Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
My husband, Danny, and I enjoy watching cooking shows on Food Network, especially those involving competition. One of our favorites is Chopped.
For those of you unfamiliar with this program, four chefs compete against one another in three rounds - appetizer, entree and dessert - to see who will be declared the Chopped Champion. The judges' criteria are taste, creativity and presentation of the completed meal.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? It's anything but! As if the time constraints for preparing a dish aren't enough, each chef is given a mystery basket with identical, and always eclectic, ingredients, all of which must be incorporated into the recipe. Some items are so far-fetched, they often leave Danny, a seasoned chef in his own right, shaking his head in disbelief.
It is downright miraculous to watch these chefs transform such incongruous food items into five-star wonders in a matter of minutes. Each creation reflects the knowledge, skills and background of the chefs. But no matter how fancy the presentation or savory the taste, one contestant will be chopped at the end of each round, until only the Chopped Champion is left standing.
For the losers, there are no do-overs. No second chances.
They are simply chopped.
As we traverse this road called life, each new day presents its own mystery basket. We may open it and be delighted by what we find inside: love; laughter; a child's smile, a warm touch. We know just what to do with these ingredients, and rarely fail to turn our day into a five-star one.
But what about those mystery baskets that, when opened, reveal less than palatable contents? An ailing parent, a troubled child, problems with the boss, financial woes, and the list goes on and on. What then? How will we ever address the mess?
Sadly, when faced with tough situations, even we, as Christians, often plunge forward, declaring, "I've got this, God. I can handle this." But we delude ourselves. If we leave God out of the equation, we are leaving the most important ingredient in our mystery basket out of the mix. That should get us chopped, for sure!
But it doesn't.
We need to repent, gather up our rag-tag attempts to fix our problems, and surrender them to the the Lord, our God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.
With God, none of us are losers. He allows do-overs. Repeatedly.
The Lord, our God, is a God of Second Chances.
Was there a time in your life when you thought you could handle your mystery boxes without God's help?
Prayer: Father, help us to remember when we are facing overwhelming problems or situations in our lives to turn first to You for wisdom, strength and guidance. Forgive us those times when we have taken matters into our own hands and taken You out of the mix. Thank You for Your great, endless and abiding love for us, Your wayward children. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.