Last Christmas, my youngest son gave all of his fifth grade teachers a loaf of homemade gingerbread. Thank you notes were sent, but one in particular really warmed my heart.
“Your mother is a wonderful cook,” it read.
Not only did I keep the note and tack it to the bulletin board inside my pantry, I underlined and highlighted the statement that sang my praises. Never mind the snorts and scoffs from certain family members--I have written proof that I’m a good cook. No wait…I’m a wonderful cook.
Truth: I’m mediocre in the kitchen. Should the teacher ever experience my homemade meatloaf, I’m sure that “wonderful” would not be the word of her choosing. Once in blue moon, though, the Lord smiles favor upon my kitchen and I do surprise everyone with a culinary creation that really pleases.
This happened recently with a roast, one that turned out so tender and tasty that nobody could believe it came from my oven. Even so, my youngest son stared at the roast, sniffed it and announced, “I don’t like it.”
“You haven’t even tried it,” I told him.
“Well, I don’t want it,” he continued. “Will you make me something else for dinner?”
“No, I will not,” I answered. “I’ve already prepared a wonderful dinner.”
As he sulked over the injustice of a mother who won’t load the supper table with Butterfinger’s and pudding, I considered his rejection of my succulent roast. It’s similar to how some people respond to Christianity. They desire feeding, but when we tell them how to receive eternal security, along with a bounty of joy, hope and guidance, they turn up their noses.
They don’t like it. They don’t want it. They ask for something else. And they’ve never even tasted what they’re turning down.
Christians, too, can harbor this heart attitude when it comes to certain things. For example, we all have dreams for our lives, but God’s plan might not line up with what we think we want. He might answer a prayer THIS way when we wanted it answered THAT way.
When we don’t like what God is serving, do we have options? Yes --we can march forward with our own menu. Life might turn out okay, but far from as blessed and satisfying as it would have been had we followed God’s leading. We might also end up in a ditch of despair. There is no way of pre-determining whether we’ll be okay or not. Only when we surrender to God’s will can we be confident in the outcome. “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’” (Psalm 32:8 NASB)
Some people insist that God’s will for our lives always transpires. Personally, I disagree. When I think about the prostitute beaten to death by a client or a drug addict overdosing in an alley, nothing can convince me that such an existence was what God meant for them when He said, “I know the plans I have for you.” God had much better plans for these people, ones of prosperity, safety, hope and a future. (See Jeremiah 29: 11). Sadly, they used their free will to make choices that took them far from what could have been.
Misuse of free will is found in all walks of life. Even successful Christians can miss out on more blessed lives that glorify God by charting their own course instead of surrendering to His will for them. I know a Christian couple who were highly successful in the corporate world. Despite all the makings of “the good life”, it wasn’t until they were obedient to God’s calling (in this case, full-time ministry) that they began experiencing real satisfaction, the kind that only comes when we allow God to define what true success is and isn’t.
What is God offering us? Whether He desires us to be in medicine, music or missions, we’ll only find out when we’re willing to receive it. Shouldn’t we be smacking our lips in anticipation of this delicious discovery? After all, whatever God is serving will be abundantly better than anything we can cook up on our own.
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17 NIV)
If He’s already prepared something wonderful, why are we asking for something different?