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Posts Tagged ‘Joseph’

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s nothing quite like a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. The best recipes (and a decent oven!) create a buttery crunch on the outside and a chewy, chocolate-and-walnut infused center.

Of course, every ingredient of the recipe is necessary—not just the chips and nuts. You have to include the flour, butter, eggs, and more. Leave one out, and the results will be hugely disappointing.

Take vanilla extract, for example. A batch of chocolate chip cookies is quite bland without that one teaspoon of flavoring. But have you ever tasted vanilla extract all by itself?  Whew!  It is shockingly strong and bitter.

Now try this idea on for size: Our lives are a bit like chocolate chips cookies!

(Stay with me–the simile will be clear in a moment!)

Just as it takes a variety of ingredients to make delectable cookies, it takes a variety of people and circumstances to make our lives into “the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Some ingredients, like chips and walnuts, can be enjoyed all on their own. Similarly, God’s recipe for each of us also includes blessings, provided solely for our pleasure—all on their own.

But then there’s that vanilla. So awful by itself; so transforming when combined with the rest of the ingredients.

I see that vanilla as representative of the distasteful and bitter experiences God allows in our lives. Without them, we’d end up as bland and good-for-nothing as vanilla-less chocolate chip cookies.

Every person, every situation God allows into our lives has the potential to make us like Jesus. Even the bitter ones. No, especially the bitter ones. It’s those uncomfortable, challenging relationships and situations that transform us the most. For example:

  • Would Joseph have been as prepared to be second-in-command under Pharaoh—without being sold into slavery or thrown into prison? Probably not. He learned invaluable lessons about organization and leadership while overseeing Potiphar’s household. Those skills only increased while Joseph was incarcerated and given responsibility for all that was done in the prison.
  • Would David the shepherd boy have become the greatest king of Israel? Undoubtedly, his perseverance and faith grew strong as he struggled through fifteen years of waiting—and hiding in caves from Saul.
  • Would Paul’s ministry have been as effective to the persecuted Christians of the first century, if he himself had not been exposed to great suffering?

It’s true. Just a teaspoon of trouble can create great benefit. Trials offer us opportunities for:

  • Growing spiritually and emotionally
  • Ministering to others with understanding and empathy
  • Developing a closer relationship with God
  • Preparing for a God-ordained change-of-direction in life
  • Praising, as God engineers circumstances beyond our dreams

However.

We must be willing participants.

Perhaps our prayer could be based on Ephesians 3:20, a verse often quoted to give us hope for blessing. But this scripture also offers great hope for the good accomplished through difficulty:

“All glory to God,

who is able,

through his mighty power

at work within us,

to accomplish infinitely more

than we might ask or think.”

Just as a bit of acrid vanilla works wonders in the cookie dough,…

God uses the bitter moments to work wonders in our lives.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, I praise you for your infinite wisdom. You know exactly what to allow into my life to achieve your ultimate purpose. I thank you for the blessings but also for the trials. May I be a willing participant, like Joseph, David, and Paul. And may I become strong and resilient as they were—for your honor and glory. Amen.

(Photo credit:  www.thehealthyfoodblog.wordpress.com.)

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