I put the potatoes in a large to pot to boil on the stove for dinner. Then I pulled out all the necessary items to make peanut butter cookies. Aspen helped me measure, pour, and stir. We dropped the dough onto the cookie sheet and put it in the oven. An hour later I was still baking cookies and glanced over at the pot of potatoes. They should have been done, but I was wrapped up in baking the cookies without burning them and my half-hearted glanced told me steam was still escaping from the lid of the pot.
I left the kitchen for a few minutes to run downstairs. When I came back upstairs I smelled the undeniable aroma of scorched food. I quickly checked the oven to make sure it wasn’t the cookies. Relief flooded me when I confirmed the cookies weren’t even brown yet. I winced a little at my absent-mindedness allowing me to ignore the potatoes while I worked on baking the cookies to perfection. I turned off the burner and removed the pan from the burner. What had appeared to be steam escaping from the lid of the pot had actually been smoke. Once all the water had evaporated from the pot, the potatoes had succumbed to the natural consequences and begun to scorch.
It crossed my mind that just like the pot appeared to be boiling while steam escaped from the lid, it wasn’t steam, but smoke. In the same way I can look at my spiritual life and think it is cooking just fine, when in reality i’m just blowing smoke. Just like I was completely involved in making cookies and perceived the smoke to be steam I can just as easily mistake all my good works for a real relationship with God. Don’t get me wrong. Good works are great and God needs them to grow His kingdom. But it is easy to get caught up in what I think I should be doing rather than taking time to seek God and His plan for my life.
This morning I got up early and took my son to work at just after 7am. I generally don’t bother getting dressed, I just run a brush through my hair and wear my pajamas figuring that nobody else on the freeway cares what I look like. As luck would have it while I was driving this morning I noticed the gas light come on. I did not look forward to putting gas in while wearing my pj’s at the gas station. After dropping my son off at work, I chose the smaller of the two closest gas stations, hedging my bets that it would have fewer people putting gas in at 7am. When I pulled up about half a dozen others were already pumping gas. I took mental note that everyone else had managed to get dressed and probably showered before leaving their houses. I can be pretty sure that none of those half a dozen people at the gas station even noticed my presence, let alone stopped to think any thoughts about my wearing my pj’s with my hair somewhat disheveled. But I felt vulnerable and conspicuous at appearing in public looking like I usually only look in private.
When I stand before God and leave my plan behind while I wait on His plan, I can feel vulnerable like that. It is not a pleasant feeling and I want to scramble to fix it. In fact, while I am waiting on God’s plan I feel better if I just go ahead and fill in the empty space with busy work. But, the problem with that plan is I can get so busy and so involved in my own plan, as well as comfortable with my own leading that when God tries to get my attention I brush Him aside and continue blowing the smoke of my own good works.
God created us. God has a plan for us. God wants the absolute best for us. But, in order to know His plan for me I need to give up my plan and stand in His presence. I need to live in His presence. In His presence is the path of life. In His presence is fullness of joy. At His right hand are pleasure forever more. (Psalm 16:11) Every moment is a new opportunity to breathe in the presence of God and allow Him to transform our lives into a beautiful symphony for Him.