by Felicia Goode
God is so practical. This morning He provided me with a visual that parallels a situation I’m going through personally. You see, I know what I want. And I believe that if I hold on to what I want and do the required work to get it, the result will be well worth the wait and the work.
I woke up with oatmeal on my mind. Creamy, hot oatmeal with walnuts and a slice of whole wheat–slightly dark–toast. I got to work late, well past the time I usually eat breakfast. I keep a container of oatmeal, a small bowl, a 1/4 c measuring cup, walnuts, and a toaster in my office. I scooped one measuring cup of oatmeal into the bowl and mixed it with two and a half measuring cups of hot water, stirred well, then put it in the microwave for one minute. Since I didn’t have any more bread at work I knew I would have to go and buy a slice from the cafeteria. So the plan was to prepare the oatmeal, sprinkle the walnuts, then go buy the slice of bread and toast it. By the time the bread finishes toasting, the oatmeal will already be done but still hot. Then I could eat! YAY!
You know it didn’t happen that way, right? I put the oatmeal in the microwave, set the timer for one minute and pressed “start.” As I was clearing up the kitchen area, I decided to stir the oatmeal to check the consistency. It. Had. Only. Been. Twenty. Seconds. When I opened the microwave I discovered oatmeal bubbling over the entire edge of the bowl in a microwave mess. I growled in frustration at the sight of it
“After only 20 seconds?? REALLY?!!” That’s all I could think as I began scraping piping hot oatmeal from inside and outside of the bowl. It was such a mess that I made the decision that it was easier to just throw the bowl away, clean the microwave, and go buy my breakfast in the cafeteria–not oatmeal, though!–than start over with a clean bowl. As I angrily marched out of the office, I heard a question in my mind: “Why are you going to settle for what you don’t want AND pay for it?” Then I thought, quite defiantly, “Well, I’m going to buy the oatmeal and that’s all there is to it.” After five steps my thought was, “Yes, I will buy the oatmeal in the cafeteria when I have plenty already; all I have to do is prepare it. Such a brilliant idea.” Immediately my walk softened and I could feel the scowl leave my face. I did purchase the slice of bread and used the toaster in the cafeteria, but I did not buy oatmeal! Instead, I went back to the kitchen area and prepared my oatmeal with the last disposable bowl. It’s as if the bowl was sitting there waiting on me. It saw the first oatmeal volcanic eruption and subsequent demise of its reusable plastic kin. It heard my growl and saw me storm off in exasperation. I noticed it there during my first time in the kitchen but didn’t think much of it. Now there I was in the kitchen again preparing more oatmeal while using the tool that had been there all along.
I had tried earlier–not fully paying attention–and reaped disastrous results. I became frustrated and angry and wanted to give up. Thankfully God didn’t give up on me. And it was so plain the way He broke it down: “Why are you going to settle for what you don’t want and pay for it?” There was no booming thunderclap or quaking of the building. Just a simple question in a loving and comforting, yet puzzling, voice. The lesson I learned? Even though I didn’t get it right the first time, I had an opportunity to try again. I heard God speak to me. Me. Not the person walking past me in the hall. Me. And I listened. And I got my oatmeal. And the result was worth the wait and the work: creamy, steaming hot oatmeal with just the right amount of crunchy walnuts and a perfect slice of toast.