Yesterday I made chocolate brownies. They didn’t turn out as I expected. This seems to be a recurring theme.
You may be surprised to learn that it’s not the first time brownies have caused consternation. I read that when the famous cookery writer Delia Smith first tried to launch American Brownies on the unsuspecting British public her mailbag was full of letters from concerned would-be-bakers wondering why the brownies weren’t properly cooked. Her website now notes ‘they are not cakes’, I guess in the hope that people will adjust their expectations and realise that squidgy and a bit damp can actually be a good thing in a baked item.
It’s not just baking.
Sometimes life: ministry, relationships, jobs, kids, health, security… just doesn’t turn out as we expected and planned. Sometimes because of our mistakes, or someone else’s; often because we live in a broken world; and perhaps sometimes because, like the brownies, it was never supposed to be the way we imagined it.
It would be easy to live a life coloured by disappointment and recriminations over the things that are not as they might have been, either with God, with yourself or with others.
The truth is that more or less everyone I know is living a life that in some respect is different to how they had imagined it would be. Even those whose facebook profile might suggest otherwise are facing trials behind the scenes. Because life is, on the whole, neither fair nor easy. The rain falls.
However there is an alternative to disappointment, confusion and resentment. There has to be, because those things will eat you up from the inside. It’s this…
You eat the brownies.
As it happens, my brownies are actually a bit overcooked (new house, new oven). I’m not saying they ‘d break your teeth, but they’d give it a good go. Thing is, they still taste pretty good.. If you adjust your expectations and think ‘cookie’ then they’re sort of OK, the ones in the middle are edible at least.
This is hard to write friends, because I know many of you are facing situations so hard you can barely stand up. I’m not saying that everything about life is good. Sometimes it really, really stinks. Sometimes it’s so far away from what you’d hoped it would be that it makes you grieve in the depths of your soul for what might have been.
But God is good and sometimes there’s blessing hidden deep in amongst the difficult. Sometimes God has brought us this way on purpose, sometimes this is the way he is leading us out. The one thing we know for sure is that he travels with us through it, whispering encouragement and ready to catch us if we stumble.
Mostly, we don’t get a lot of choice over which life we live.
Where we do have a choice though, is in how we face our unexpected lives, and how we adjust our attitude towards them. We can perhaps choose to step away from disappointment and blame and look for what is good and enjoy it.
Perhaps today we can acknowledge that our ‘brownies’ are not we expected, not what we asked for, or what we’d hoped for; but perhaps we can pull together the courage, take a breath, reach for God’s hand, and eat them.
I hope you will find, that in some unexpected way, they are good.