For many years, I made chocolate chip cookies every Saturday night to take to church the following morning. I baked pans of cookies to take to musical practices when I was choreographing. I baked for extended family gatherings. I baked for school auctions, potlucks, and meetings.
Baking is relaxing to me, and people seem to enjoy my chocolate chip cookies, so it’s a win-win. Sometimes I’ll ask my daughter if she’s willing to take cookies somewhere so I have an excuse to bake. But our family doesn’t eat the cookies. Oh, we might have a couple when they’re fresh (in other words, if they’re still warm), but that’s it. They’re not special to us. We can have them any time we want.
Others think they’re something special.
I got the recipe when I was in grad school. I was in a study group at Debbie’s house, and she made them. They were delicious, and I had to have the recipe. I still have her handwritten recipe card, one of the first recipes I collected. I tweaked it a bit as I began to bake, and I’ve shared my adjusted recipe with others, but I often hear their cookies don’t end up the same as mine.
It might be that I don’t exactly follow a recipe. I haven’t measured the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies for…as long as I can remember. I’m not sure I ever measured. My mom didn’t measure much when she baked and cooked, and I adopted the “throw it in until it’s the right consistency and taste” approach.
I’ve tried to write down a close representation of what I include in the chocolate chip cookies, and I include the “secrets” I’ve found make the difference between an okay cookie and a “gotta have more” cookie. It thrills me when someone is able to replicate the cookies. A friend recently posted a comment about my cookies on Facebook, which started a thread of comments about chocolate chip cookies and baking. I included the recipe in a comment, and several tried (and succeeded!) in baking the ooey, gooey, chocolatey goodness in the following days. I hope they savored every bite…as I savor baking, throwing together a variety of ingredients to create something scrumptious.
I was thinking about the way I bake the other day when I was chatting with a friend about God’s Word. Everything we need to know how to live is in there, but I don’t know it all. I don’t understand it all and how it blends together. I could read it day in and day out for the rest of my life and still be surprised by it. I’d still have questions. But it’s all in there – everything I need.
If knowing what to do – determining God’s will – was always easy, I think the Bible would look different. It would be Step 1, Step 2, Step 3….It would say, “If _____, then _____.” And it does both of these things in different places, but…it also tells me to speak up and be silent, act boldly and be humble. Confront, forgive. Follow, lead.
There are no contradictions in the Bible. God is consistent and unchanging. He’s not into situational ethics. He’s into a relationship that draws me to continually interact with him. If I could read the Bible like a recipe, I could follow it to every ounce and teaspoon, mix and blend with precise timing, and have a predictable result every time. But I wouldn’t have to rely on my relationship with God. I’d become legalistic. Instead, I must be obedient to God through the process. I interact with him through his Word. I get instruction, and I try to apply it, checking results along the way.
I read A, so I choose B, which results in C. What does God say about what C is supposed to look like? Am I matching up? So far, so good? What adjustments do I need to make? I need to dig in more. I tweak direction and focus. Okay, that’s better. Right, God?
Faith is a relationship, which means I need to be involved. I can’t replicate without a recipe, but I also need to know how to adjust the recipe along the way because (1) only God knows the specifics, and (2) baking without him is like replacing the margarine for butter, white sugar for brown sugar, whole wheat flour for white flour, almond for vanilla, baking powder for baking soda, and mint chips for chocolate chips. You might like what you end up with, but it’s nothing like the masterful creation you were intended to have.
Want to try some yummy chocolate chip cookies?
2 cups butter-flavored Crisco shortening
3/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
16 ounce bag of chocolate chips
Use mixer to cream together the shortening and both kinds of sugar. Then beat in vanilla and eggs. This is the “secret” step. Be sure the mixture is fluffy before you stop. Add flour, baking soda, and salt to the creamy dough and mix. Add chocolate chips by stirring with a large spoon. Drop by tea-spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 360 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Cookies will be soft. Let them stand on the cookie sheet for a minute or so and then place them on waxed paper to cool completely.
In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1