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A noodle lesson

It was Voltaire who reminded us, "Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time," but I'd have to say that perfection requires more than the hand of time. It requires the hand of God in our lives. Voltaire was right in his supposition that perfection is something that is attained in very slow progress at times, quicker at others. It is in the passage of time that we begin to see things change. I made macaroni and cheese last night, something I don't treat myself to very often, but I just had a hankering for it. If you have cooked pasta, you know that it requires the water to boil a while in order to soften the hard outer shell of the noodle, then in time the inner portion becomes affected by the heated water. If you leave it too long, you get mush. It is somewhere slightly between 'hard inside' and 'mush' that you reach 'perfection' with the noodle. If you want the best texture and taste to your pasta, you watch and wait, then remove it from the heat at just the right time. God is kind of like that in our lives - he watches and waits, then he removes us from the heat at just the right time so that what is produced in our lives is 'perfection' - coming by slow degrees!

I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. (Philippians 1:6)

God's work within us might seem to be coming in fits and starts, but let me assure that his work of bringing our lives into alignment with his comes in slow degrees. He could just wave some "Holy Wand" of magical spiritual power, making us all not only all cleaned up on the inside, but feeling like we are cleaned up, as well. He could wave that magic wand again and we'd never sin again, but how would that be the right thing to do? If you have ever seen someone raised with a silver spoon in their hand, receiving every want or wish on a silver platter, never having to work for anything, you might have observed them to be a little too self-centered and even a little unappreciative of what they have received. They never had to put in any effort to get whatever it was, so their appreciation of the thing they possess is not the same as that of someone who has had to save up for the exact same thing. I had to save for my first car, being able to afford not only the car, but the insurance, as well. I remember driving away from the place I bought it, busting at the seams because I owned this ugly brownish gold Dodge. It took me months and months to save up, making the right connection with a mechanic who rebuilt engines and who was willing to cut me a good deal. Now, it was mine.

The work that went into owning the car was on my part. The saving up was on my part. The long hours put in to earn the wages was on my part. The search for affordable insurance was on my part. I believe the connection made with the Sargent Major who owned the mechanic shop as a side business was on God's part. I would have been too timid to make that connection in those days, but God opened those doors for me. This man and his wife saw something in me they wanted to bless and I believe God created that relationship. That opportunity was a God-thing. Yes, I did my part, but God had a huge part in it! The growth we experience spiritually is not without our own effort, even though it begins with a 'God-thing' and often ends with a 'God-thing', the 'in-between' requires some slow progress on our part! The hard part for us is being patient in the 'heat' of the process - we see the effect of the 'heat' affecting us, much like the outside of the noodle in the boiling water. The thing we forget is that the 'work' of perfecting that thing within our character isn't done until the 'hardness' inside is also made soft in the process. When we reach that point, be confident God will remove us from the heat. Just sayin!

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