When I was a single young man, I lacked one important ingredient for survival. I didn’t know how to cook. I spent most of my life before I got married hanging out with other families that were nice enough to take me in after moms died. So every Sunday after church, or during the holidays, some kind family, would let me roll through, blend into the fabric of their domestic narrative, and get my grub on.
If the family had a cute daughter, that would make the cranberry sauce all the sweeter!
The only problem with those brief highlights of my single life is — you guessed it — all the other days of the year trying to figure out how to cook for myself. Until I discovered… the microwave.
The microwave allowed every bachelor to run inside of the grocery store, go to the frozen food section, run back to his manhole, and heat up a delicious meal for a brother on a budget. And what was so dope about the microwave is that you could have this meal in minutes!
As simple and satisfying as that process appears to sound, there was always a dilemma: how do you make the middle of the microwaved chicken pot pie I purchased on sale at Kroger as hot as the outer part?
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the ice out of the middle. If I tried to cook too much longer, fire alarms would start ringing through the apartment complex.
Gertrude, the angel that raised me as a kid, never had this problem. Sundays after church, we’d go home to a wonderful, delicious Sunday dinner that filled the whole house with the smell of food cooked from her soul. But one thing that stood out most about that Sunday meal is that she didn’t wait until Sunday morning to start cooking… see, Gertrude started cooking Sunday dinner Saturday night. She’d let it simmer all night long. She’d let the juices marinate and let the pot roast swim in the sauce late in the midnight hour. On Sunday evening, I reaped the benefits of work that started Saturday night. The difference between my nasty microwavable pot pie and her roast was simple: time.
Like microwavable meals, there are microwavable lives. Hot on the outside, but cold in the middle. Today, everybody wants their gifts, talents, and blessings in a hurry. No process, no leadership, no accountability. We believe our own hype, of how good we are, that we’re better than the guy who got promoted first or drafted first. Of course, we assume our gifts are ready to take us where our character may not be strong enough yet to keep us. Give it to me now.
But guess where character is created? In the marinating. Just ask the pot roast.
Nobody wants to go through the process of the old fashioned word called “work”. We come out of the womb being told we’re good. But good is the enemy of great. And greatness comes with… time. Time, my friend, is not your enemy. What God has for you will not expire like milk. But, fruit – out of season – can kill you. Time, develops a maturity so when “the coach” puts you in the game, you have some wisdom to go with the speed. And God, our coach, knows how much marinating we need so we don’t act a fool with whatever gift he’s prepared for us.
Time gives us the opportunity to live out what’s been put in. See, if all we do is hear sermons and read scriptures, how do we know it really works until we get in the game? Only after our faith has been tested (with doors slammed in our face and prayers seemingly not answered) will we fight to give thanks in everything. Only then, do we know what we believe.
If we think we’re ready before it’s time, we could fumble the ball so bad it could take generations to recover. When you walk with God – instead of running with Him — you don’t lose your temper as fast, walk out on your girl as quick, fall into sin as easy.
The last thing a hungry world needs is to keep cutting into cold Christians.