Lessons from cookie dough

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My dad is the chocolate chip cookie king. I could probably count on one hand all the times my mom tried her hand at making a batch that could rival his. Even then, her baking was more a necessity due to his absence coinciding with a cookie specific craving than an attempt at dethroning his well-earned title. No one ever argued his position or sought to replace him. He ruled his cookie kingdom well and hushed any possible conspirators with a heaping tablespoon of freshly mixed dough. With 7 kids pressing in to get a share of the bounty, only half the dough ever made it to the oven.

I remember pushing up chairs, then stools, then my still-short-but-just-tall-enough-to-reach-the-counter-self next to his side as he poured and mixed just so with his strong, skilled hands. Of all the things that came out of that kitchen {and it was a kitchen producing many a delectable delight}, I wanted to remember this one. His cookies were always the perfect size and shape, texture and chewiness. They were perfect. I must have observed the process hundreds of times; so it’s no wonder why I’ll never have to look at the back of a Nestle toll house chocolate chip bag for the recipe ever again.

The ingredients, measurements, and process are permanently imprinted on my memory. But, as I discovered later on when attempting the process myself, memorization did little to help me in achieving the much sought after soft and chewy cookie. Batch after batch turned out flat, even paper thin one time. That unfortunate batch was intended for an after church function for which my mom told me I still had to bring them, regardless of horrific failure. I was mortified.

And I got so frustrated. So determined. I remember setting out my ingredients and measuring everything with the greatest of care. I would pause and observe the dough from every angle as if it were a glass ball that could tell me the future. And I would wait by the oven, full of hope those first 6 minutes as the cookies remained lumpy and round. The last 3 minutes however, you could observe me sliding down lower and lower along the counter’s edge as my perfect-cookie-dreams deflated, as did the dough.

Defeated, I would throw my hands in the air and walk away in a huff. I had followed the recipe to a T! I had obeyed all the rules. I hadn’t left anything out {this time}. I had even added the eggs one at a time even though I still didn’t understand why that was completely necessary.

And as I was mixing up a batch of cookies this past weekend, with similar techniques and hopes of success, in my own home, far away from my dad, and missing him terribly, it hit me.

Sometimes I treat God like a failed batch of cookies. 

I think we try to work really hard to memorize all the rules, abide by them, even add in a few extra for good measure but then throw up our hands in despair when we don’t get the thing we feel we deserve.

“God, I’ve remained pure my whole life. Why haven’t you given me a spouse?” 

“I’ve taught my children everything you told me to. Why did they forsake you?” 

“I lost my job God, even though I tithed on every paycheck and gave money to the poor.” 

“I worked really hard in school Father. How come you didn’t allow me to get into medical school?” 

“I’m always on time to work, finish all my tasks {and everyone else’s even}. Why would you give the promotion I’ve been after to someone else who didn’t even deserve it?”

I went to the park with my child this morning, taught her about you, Jesus, fed her lunch, and kissed her boo-boos. I made sure to get her good and tired. Why won’t she just take her stupid nap?!” 

“I’ve memorized all the verses on joy, tried to smile at everyone I meet, and sing all the hymns I can remember, but I’m still depressed God.” 

‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ {Luke 15, ESV}. 

Rule keeping is good, but if that’s all we ever do, we miss the object entirely and we’ll become frustrated when we feel we’re not rewarded properly.

We’ll be like the Rich Young Ruler who came to Christ and offered all his goodness in exchange for eternal life but went away very sad because he wasn’t willing to offer his heart, to have everything taken away for the sake of gaining something much more valuable.

Because when I exalt the means of grace {rule keeping, commandment-abiding, Scripture reading, prayer, church attendance, etc} above the Person of grace, Jesus, I lose sight of where true joy is found.

True joy is not measured in tablespoons or pyrex measuring cups, in perfect church attendance, flawless Scripture recitation, or a perfectly executed congregational hymn number. It’s wrapped up in the One for whom we come together to worship, the Word itself, the One who has put a “new song in our hearts, even praise unto our God.”

When we begin seeing Jesus as the object of our worship {because that is what following his commands is}, we find joy in unlikely places.

Like middle of the night infant feedings when you reflect on the milk of the Word being poured out for you. 

Such as week-long migraines where you remember his sufferings for you. 

In the middle of thwarted dreams and plans when you grow in gratefulness for Christ having abandoned his throne to work as a carpenter and live life among his creation. 

As you watch others’ advancements and promotions take place all around you and rejoice that Jesus was made in the form of a servant for your sake. 

And in so doing, we find “more joy in our heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” {Psalm 4}. Because the object of our joy is not in the getting of things we feel entitled to, but in the getting the One whom we could never deserve.

It’s not that we’re never disappointed, tired, or weary, but that we worship Jesus through those emotions, not in spite of them. He’s invited us to pour out our hearts to him, even the parts we’d like to keep hidden from view. Psalm 88 is a beautiful example of this.

Dear friend, if your heart is heavy from reading this, hear the words of the father {who is a picture of our Father} spoken to the prodigal’s older brother: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours” {Luke 15, ESV}. He does not chide us for our weariness, roll his eyes at our frustration, heave a sigh at our short-sightedness. He gently instructs, firmly re-establishes truth in our hearts, and offers himself to us all over again.

“All that is mine is yours.”

Linking up to Pencilled Daydream, Forever Faithful, and Casey Leigh Wiegand

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8 comments

  1. Yes..I am the cookie queen of the family, but cannot reproduce the mouth watering fragrant melt in your mouth fudge of my father’s. I know the pain of following every pain staking minute by minute watchful eye of “just the right temperature” only to be defeated yet again with the finished product. It serves as a reminder to me that we always are at the corner of humbleness and try again. God is never “done” with us either!

    1. Why do you think that is?! It should run in the family don’t you think? haha! So grateful God never leaves us “half-baked!”

  2. Loved reading this!!!

    1. Aww! Thanks girl. That means so much.

  3. marykatbpcsc45 · · Reply

    Wow, great analogy. We can follow a recipe exactly and it not come out. I once heard that you can train a computer to be moral. Joy from righteous living is the secret ingredient that makes life wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. And thank you for commenting! I’m glad it encouraged you!

  4. Never knew you could learn such an incredible lesson from cookie dough! How beautiful that the Lord whispers to your heart in the midst of such a simple thing as baking cookies. I loved hearing this! I often feel that God will not be pleased with me if I miss a day of reading His Word. Thank you for reminding me that its not perfection that Jesus wants, but He wants our hearts and our affection! Thank you so much for sharing and linking up!

    1. That is tough for me too Kasey! Like I have to make up for the time I missed before I can be “good enough” to approach God again. It’s funny the things God uses to speak to me. Sometimes I feel I’m being overly dramatic about things, but really that’s just how I learn, and God knows that. He visits me in the midst of my hurry and speaks peace and truth. Love him for that. Thanks for the positive words friend.

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