Despite all that, however, I don't love the devotional time during ladies meetings. I am probably the only "good Christian" in the world like that, but sadly, it's true. When the chosen lady stands behind the podium and arranges her papers, inwardly I sigh and tentatively reach toward my "Topics to Daydream About" book in my mind, just in case the devotional is boring.
It is so crazy that I do that, still, because after close to 30 months of devotionals at ladies' meetings, only one was boring. One! (Sorry, whoever it was. I have forgotten. Hey, you want me to be honest, right? I didn't say I didn't learn anything from it...) You would think I would anticipate the devotional time and be excited to see what I will learn this time. I guess that old sinful self likes to forget (on purpose?) what a special time being in the Bible is, and every month I fall for it.
Well, this past month (like, last year, since this post sat in my drafts for WAY too long) was so not boring. It was just for me. Literally. Normally we have about 40 ladies in attendance, but for some strange reason, there were only 12 or 15 there this time. So I know that this devotional was just for me.
There was an illustration in the devotional that plucked me off my chair and set me on a smile cloud. Not like a proud, look-at-me smile cloud, but an I'm-so-glad-I've-let-God-work-in-my-heart smile cloud.
An egg, a carrot, and some coffee beans were all put in their own pot of water. (Sounds like the start of a really strange joke, huh?) After boiling for 20 or so minutes, the pots were removed from the heat and the contents examined.
When the egg was first put in the water, it had a hard shell protecting some very weak guts. After going through some fiery trials, the hard shell did its job by not letting any guts out, but the water changed the inside from soft and gushy to hard and callused. Now you could say that you can still eat hard-boiled eggs and they are good, but really, how much trouble is that? First, the shell comes off in tiny little pieces, and there's that film that either sticks to the white or takes chunks with it when you peel it off. Then you have to remove the inner yellow and mix it with something else (when I take the trouble, I use ranch dressing) for it to taste good. Edible, but not until a lot more work is done on it. I don't think I want to be like an egg!
When the carrot was first put in the water, it was hard, inside and out. After its trials, it is mushy, through and through. If you aren't careful when you pick it up, it will go blah and plop back into the water. But again, cooked carrots are edible, too. Cooked carrots are actually healthier for you than raw ones, because their outer walls have been broken down (sound like something that we might need to do?). So maybe I need to be more like the carrot.
Now for the beans. You know what they did in the water. After boiling for a while, it wasn't beans in water anymore. The beans not only changed themselves, but they changed the water. Yes, some people like to add sugar and milk to coffee, but for this illustration, that's neither here nor there. (I am writing the blog post. I make the rules. If you want the sugar and milk to matter, go write your own post.)
Here's the application: there are three types of people in this world, those who can count, and those who can't. Just kidding. Three types of people: eggs, carrots, and coffee beans. Egg people let their circumstances dictate their attitude. As long as things are hunky dory, and they can just chill out in the fridge of life, their outer shell protects them just fine. But the moment a problem comes along when the Cook took them out of the fridge and left them on the counter, they will spoil. Or the Cook puts them in hot water, they harden their insides and let their heart become bitter.
Carrot people start off dirty and crusty. Sometimes they've been fridged, and sometimes not. Either way, they think that life has dealt them such a bad hand they feel like their cards are all jokers. But the Master Chef gets in there, and dunks them in some tribulations, and carrot people let God and His Word soften them right up so all their nutrients come flooding to the top and can benefit anyone who wants to be their friend. But if they don't take the time they need to shore up their defenses against the world, they become wishy-washy and a mat that everyone can walk over. No one likes a mat, especially the mat!
Coffee bean people change the world. They let their circumstances change them, true, but that's not all. They make sure that everyone can see what good God brought about.
When I was a teenager, I was an egg. My family went through a traumatic move, and instead of letting God work in me, I became hard and self-focused. Then I see-sawed to carrot--to the extreme. I didn't stand up for myself and I just let people push me around. The coffee bean is the delicate balance in the middle. I achieve this--for a moment as I swing back and forth between egg and carrot! The goal is to have the pendulum swings as small as possible, but that's looking like it will take me until I get to Heaven. Until then, will you join me in striving to be a coffee bean?