I have a big confession to make. I’m afraid of crock pots.
When Dale and I were first married we were given a crock pot. I made a meal in it – stew, I think. All I remember was at the end of the day it was still nearly raw and it was AWFUL. We were very poor college students, and to lose a whole dinner was a big deal, so I never used it again, and finally sold it at a garage sale. I knew – Crock pots were SCARY.
I also can’t swim! Yet I love watching others swim, just as I love seeing other ladies sharing crock pot recipes and enjoying their delicious results!
But I DO appreciate crock pots for the same reason I like gardening: they are wonderful, practical pictures of our spiritual life.
You and I – we’re the ingredients. You may be a carrot – a deep, unshakable root. You may be an onion, scary and make people cry, but when people get brave enough to come close, they find you intriguingly deep, layer after layer. Maybe you are a fluffy thing like a cauliflower, or maybe you are a garlic – a little of you goes a long way! But God has chosen each of us; He prepared us, cleaned us, cut off bad spots perhaps, then He put us in this crockpot called DAILY LIFE, plugged into His Power Source, and turned on the heat. Not too high, though it often feels like it. Just below a simmer. Just hot enough to change us slowly to be better and better!
Sometimes God puts us under the broiler, or on the grill, and it’s painful and we come away with scars – those black criss-cross sear-marks – but they are accompanied by a deep beauty and great flavor! Sometimes we long for immediate answers to our prayers, for Instant Spiritual Growth (“Lord, please help me have the gift of patience; I need it right NOW!”) or for Him to bring change in OTHERS. We want God to use the microwave! He can! And sometimes He does!
But for the most part we – you and I – live in a crock pot.
Now, during the day, we lift the lid, look at each other in our half-cooked state and notice harsh flavors, sharp edges, pungent odors perhaps, and we judge each other, sadly unaware of our own undone state. Or we look at ourselves and get discouraged at our lack of wisdom and spiritual victory and growth. “After 13 years as a believer I can’t believe I did that again!”
But God is not finished with us yet! Now, that’s easy to say about ourselves. After all, we like to make excuses for our own failures and sin. It’s harder to say about someone else.
Here in the crock pot, we rub shoulders with each other, smoosh one another a bit, knock off each other’s sharp edges, and as the heat is turned up, our flavors blend, get richer, gain depth and fullness. Hopefully we learn from and benefit from the flavor of our neighbor, our children, our co-workers, our friends, our enemies! In this crock pot we can soften. We can mellow. We can ooze grace juice! We can gain the AROMA OF CHRIST.
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 New International Version (NIV)
15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.”
Take heart, Dear Ones! God is not finished with us yet!
He is not FINISHED and we are not DONE!
So let’s go on to embrace the heat of the Refiner’s fire, the troubles and troublesome people, the storms and the diagnosis and the spilled milk. Let us love one another and show grace to each other, knowing that God is not finished with them yet, just as He is not finished with ME.
He is not finished, no, but one thing I can guarantee: He is working! In me, in you, in that loved one, in that unloved one.
“Whenever trouble comes your way,” James says, “let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4
And at the end of our lives, when our day in the crockpot comes to a grand finale, at the right time, the appointed time, when the timer of our lives rings, God will lift the lid, savor our sweet, fully-cooked aroma and declare us “DONE”. And then say “It is good.” … “It is very good.” (Genesis)
and: “Well done, good and faithful servant… Let’s celebrate together!” Mt. 25:23
I hope that every time you see or use your crockpot you will take heart, remember that God is not finished with you yet. But He is working!