Coffee Stains: Coconut Cream PieAuthor: David Porter
When I get to heaven I may ask the Lord why He made coconut cream pie so good, and broccoli only good for you? Why didn’t he make coconut cream pie good and good for you, too? That way He could have skipped the broccoli. As it is, you have to eat broccoli and all its buddies to stay healthy. Eat all you want, it’s good for you! (Thank the Lord for ranch-style dressing). Now if I choose, I can eat all the coconut cream pie I want (and throw in a pound of chocolate chip cookies), but at the end I’ll look like a Christian sumo wrestler and my cholesterol count will be higher than it already is.
When you get right down to it, our life is basically the result of choices like these that we make each day. Now, I know that sometimes a disabling illness strikes, or we’re in a terrible accident, or someone does something to us that we have no control over. But a great part of the quality of my life results from my choices. Who I marry impacts my whole life (I did well there). The kind of work I do, the place I live, the people I associate with—my choices. It’s so important to love the Lord with your whole heart when you’re young because that’s when you make so many decisions that determine your whole course of life. It’s a bit scary because our experience as young people is often limited. One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken:’
‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.’
That less-traveled road is often the one that God asks us to take. It’s easy to make choices for right now based on if it makes me feel good, or if I will make more money, or if I think I’ll be happier if I do that, or –But the most important question to ask before you make a decision is: ‘Is this God’s will for my life? Is this in line with His Word?’ His way is not always the easiest way, the most fulfilling way seldom is. But at the end do we want to look back on a life of ‘me first” choices, or do we want to see a lifetime of making a difference in the lives of others, and obeying the Lord?
You may mumble, ‘But I messed up David, a long time ago. There’s no way I can undo that.’ That may be right but the good thing is that God can still redeem our mess-ups. He may not have ordained what we did, but He wasn’t surprised. He never gave up on us. We can make a good start by asking God’s forgiveness and beginning to act differently. That’s called repentance. Go back to where you messed up, at least in your heart, and do it right.
Nearly 25 years ago I heard a teaching series on audiotape by a certain pastor that really impacted me. Later I read his book and the man became one of my heroes. Then, I heard that he had a moral failure. He handled it with more ‘grace’ than many. If bothered him so much that he couldn’t sleep at night and he finally confessed it to his wife. He then began a long period of being restored in his relationship with God, his wife, his family, and finally, after quite a while, into the ministry. He wrote a book about his experiences, but I have to confess, I didn’t want to read it. ‘I’m tired of people messing up, seeing the light, and writing a book about it to make money,’ was my cynical thought. For nearly 20 years I refused to read any of this man’s books. Then last year a friend sent me his newest work and I thought, ‘Why not?’ That book impacted me as much as any I have read in the last several years. It also taught me something about forgiveness and judging others. From his brokenness, God raised up a man who could show others how to grow. He’s honest about his own failings and it hurts him that he’s hurt others. But even though he made a bad choice, God didn’t throw him away. When we choose repentance God can redeem our bad choices. It doesn’t necessarily make the pain go away, and we’ll hurt to the grave for some of our errors, but repentance does make something beautiful out of something ugly. God’s healing in us makes us into someone who can heal others.
‘O Israel, come back! Return to your God! You’re down but you’re not out. Prepare your confession and come back to God- I will heal their waywardness. I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out. I will make a fresh start with Israel–He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring. He’ll put down deep oak tree roots, he’ll become a forest of oaks! He’ll become splendid, like a giant sequoia, his fragrance like a grove of cedars! Those who live near him will be blessed by him, be blessed and prosper like golden grain.’ (from Hosea 14, The Message)
Choose right and be blessed, and you’ll bless others in the process.