I’ll admit it. I didn’t learn to cook as I grew up. Not because my mother wasn’t a magnificent cook, but my neighborhood and my windy city had so many more options that interested me. When I went away to college, I could scramble eggs, make a mean grilled cheese (government style, of course) and the best kool aid ever (I still hold the title). No worries though, because I was going to be on a meal plan. Fast forward a couple of years and my mother permitted me to move off campus. Finally, I had a kitchen! I was uber excited about it, although I’m not sure why, because I didn’t know how to cook. At any rate, on Saturday evening, I phoned my mom and asked her how to bake chicken. She explained the procedure, told me what seasonings she used and off I went. It turned out pretty good; not as good as my mom’s but for a first try is was edible and tasty! When I went to my work study job on Monday, I shared my good news with my mentor, Virginia Rinella, who worked in the Career Counseling center. Clearly she was tickled by my excitement. I expressed that the only concern I had while cooking was how to know when the chicken was done. She inquired, “Well, how did you know?” I responded, “Well, you cook it till you smell it!” She bursted with laughter. And, that simple statement became a staple around the office, and something she teased me about for years.
Twenty five years later during one of the worst snowstorms, my daughter stuck inside of her apartment away at college, texted me (notice the difference) to inquire how to bake chicken. She is her mother’s daughter. She never learned to cook either, although her repertoire was a bit deeper than mine when she went away to college. I responded via text the procedure, the seasonings, the temperature, etc. A couple of hours later, she sent me a photo of the chicken and I told her that it looked yummy! I didn’t ask how she knew when it was done – but I realized how often I ask that of God.
A few summers ago, while writing my first book, “Later Never Came Until Now,” I shared with my sister in Christ, Kim, that I was experiencing difficulty writing the chapter on chemistry. She asked, “What do you remember about Chemistry?” I responded, “Well, I am afraid of fire, and chemistry required us to manipulate those bunsen burners.” Her response, “Oh, much like we are afraid of God’s purification process!” Okay, so you know I was through with her….and I hate to admit, I had no trouble writing that chapter following our conversation. However, I still don’t like it and I occasionally (not as often as before), ask God, “When will this be done?”
We are twenty-five short days into 2014 and the Lord has presented much for us to pray about. Some situations are so dire that many of you like me, may have asked, “When will this be done?” You have what we view as the “right ingredients.” You read the Word, you do your best to follow it. You go to church, regularly (not just on the holidays). You are involved in your church, on several ministries. You clearly know more than one person to call from the sick list to check on. You spend time fellowshipping during “pass the peace” and in the parking lot after church. You belong to a prayer group. You dial in and remain on the line the entire time. You fast. You lay out prostrate before the Lord and await the Holy Spirit to speak to you. You journal your prayer requests and you review and update them often. You cut a mean step in the house of the Lord. You comfort those who are hurting. You volunteer in your community. You share the goodness of the Lord and you try to win souls for Christ. And yet, we somehow assume that these “things” will exempt us from trouble.
In case you haven’t yet figured it out. It does not. When we gave our life to Christ we registered for a life long battle; but its up to us to either go a-wall or allow God to determine the assignments, deployments, leaves, through the amount of time he enables the purification process. Recently speaking with two of my sisters in Christ we discussed our frustration when “going through.” Its as if God doesn’t know. Like he places his omnipresence on pause. He created us. He knows how many hairs we have on our head (synthetic or otherwise). Like the chicken, he knows whether we are committed to being organic and deeply rooted in him, with no artificial additives, or if we desire to be fried and unbeknownst to us, quickly consumed. He knows what ingredients are deposited in us – the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control or the deadly sins, wrath, greed, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. God’s process of purification involves creating the conditions that will bring out the good and necessary attributes to endure, and burn away those that can hinder us from becoming more like him, fulfilling our purpose and bringing others to Christ.
Its not easy. And like baking, no matter how many times you elect to open up the oven and peak in, it won’t quicken the process; if anything it slows it down. Asking God, “When will this be over?” and reminding him of your spiritual resume doesn’t move him to lower the temperature. In fact, it may just urge him to turnt up! (I know, couldn’t resist).
When will (insert whatever you are asking) be over? When God says so. Find something else to do while you wait. How about giving God a praise?! When I’m cooking and the food begins to sizzle, it makes me pay attention, it prompts me to go check. Turn up your praise! Give God a reason to do a check in on you. Make your praise glorious! Sing a song! Do a dance! Turn up your music and shout to the Lord with a voice of triumph even when you don’t feel triumphant! He will take notice! He will lean in. And he will know that its well with your soul even though you are still being cooked. Let’s not forget that after this trial, something else is hanging on the horizon. Yet, what we take from this victory will enhance the next one. We will be more seasoned and prepped for what is sent our way. You ask, “How will you know its done?” When we are cooked till he smells our praise as a sweet, smelling fragrance and says, “Well done!”