I made a pot of beef stew this weekend and it got me thinking about crock-pots and microwaves.
I could have made the stew in the microwave, I suppose.
I mean, it is perfectly capable of cooking the beef, carrots and potatoes.
And it would have been ready much, much faster.
Minutes versus hours.
But I am glad I did not do it that way.
Because beef stew needs to be cooked slowly, over a low, consistent heat to be really good stuff.
(And it was really good stuff, if I do say so myself!)
The microwave could have technically achieved the mission.
But the crock-pot made the flavors meld.
It brought out the spices.
Tenderized the meat.
And melded the juices into a thick gravy.
All this made me think the life of faith.
And how often I choose microwave faith over crock-pot faith.
I have all the ingredients I need for a successful life of faith.
In fact, Peter says that, “His divine power has bestowed on us absolutely everything necessary for a dynamic spiritual life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
And I long for a great end product – a life that glorifies God, and the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” when I see Him face to face one day.
I have all the ingredients:
The Holy Spirit inside me to help illuminate those words
The ability to “come boldly to the throne of grace to find help in time of need”.
The gift of prayer, being able to talk to God anytime, anywhere, about anything.
Godly counsel of the “great cloud of witnesses” – men and women who have gone before me in this faith journey, who willingly share what they have learned, how they have seen God work, and even areas where I can improve.
So I have the ingredients.
But I rebel against the cooking method.
I want microwave faith to be in effect all the time.
In prayer, I want it to be that I ask and God instantly answers.
In a way I understand.
In a way I like.
To my satisfaction.
In learning, I want it to be that I read the Bible briefly, casually, in a few spare moments and become a spiritual giant.
Understanding it all clearly.
Applying it all perfectly.
Completely transformed in an instant.
In relationships, I want it to be that I do things God’s way and instantly have no conflict.
I forgive or am forgiven and everything is instantly restored.
I have a tough conversation and everyone ends up on the same page after a few moments.
I choose love and they choose love and we all live happily ever after.
In spiritual growth, I want it to be that I pop in a few great quotes from other godly people – or even a great book on the Christian life – and I am suddenly transformed.
All better now.
Beep! The stew is done!
Without an extended period of heat.
Without it taking half of forever.
Just a few moments, a little bit of effort, a pinch of faith and a sprinkle of prayer and I am a spiritual success!
Which is incredibly rare in the Bible.
Yes, there are moments of great grace and glory where a prayer is answered instantly.
There are times when God moves quickly, rectifying a situation.
Times when the wait is small and the answer is huge.
But most of what I read in the Bible involves crock-pot faith.
• God promised Abraham a son and then waited until his body and Sarah’s were “as good as dead” to get them pregnant.
• Goliath mocked the people of God and had them cowering in fear for 40 days before God sent David to his brothers with a message from Dad – and unshakable faith that led to the giant’s death.
• Daniel was kidnapped from his home, taken as a slave to a pagan, godless kingdom, threatened by death numerous times because of his faith and died in that same pagan place, without ever seeing Israel restored.
• Even Mary and Martha, two of Jesus’ closest friends, lived through their brother’s illness, the return of the messenger they had sent to Jesus to ask for help, their brother’s funeral and four days of mourning before Jesus showed up.
And so many more examples! Even the times where we have the record of the miracle – the man born blind, the woman with the bleeding, the little girl who died before Jesus physically got there – there is a backstory of pain, of waiting, of loss, of despair that leads to the miracle.
Because God can do anything in an instant.
But, as Rick Warren has said, ““God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.”
God knows that microwaved beef stew ingredients do not lead to same result, the yumminess that hours of heat and waiting will bring.
Not fun in the process.
Not fun at all.
But comforting to know these things:
The Master Chef of your life never leaves the kitchen while He is creating His masterpiece.
He is in complete control of the temperature, the time and every ingredient that goes in the pot of your life.
And He has promised to make every ingredient work together for your good and His glory if you know Him personally.
You cannot control the ingredients, the timing or the heat level – but you can take that “cooking time” and choose to spend it with Him. Wrestling in prayer. Giving thanks in all circumstances. Soaking in His Word. Asking His Spirit to illuminate His message for You. Resting in His goodness, regardless of what is happening around you.
Or you can fight the process. Decide The Chef is not good. Ditch His Word, prayer and any application to your life. Doing that won’t magically move you from crock-pot to microwave. In fact, it has a way of making the process longer. Less flavorful in the end. With an aftertaste of regret. Don’t worry – the Chef can redeem any stew. However, I would much rather follow His recipe in the first place for the very best results.
I wrestle with wanting some microwave-timed results in my life and in the lives of those I love. And I love when I see them happen. But my word to you today – and to myself – is to trust the Master Chef for the recipe of your life. The ingredients. The circumstances. The time. And the temperature. You can trust Him. He knows what He is doing!