A sticky mess

One morning, Bobby wanted waffles. I didn’t. It was early, and I was tired, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. I didn’t feel like hauling out the waffle maker and snapping in the plates for it and then having to clean up afterwards. But I also didn’t feel like trying to fight it, either, so I plugged in the waffle maker and mixed up the batter.

While my coffee brewed and the waffle slowly cooked, I let myself imagine the end result. Golden brown, steaming, beautiful squares of perfectly-cooked batter. Real butter, glistening, sticky-sweet syrup. Mmm. This sounded pretty good after all.

Until we opened the waffle maker. Oh. Not at all what we’d hoped for. Instead of a nice, neat square with a pretty little pattern, it was a mess. Parts of it stuck. Parts of it didn’t. It peeled in half, some clinging to the top, some stretching between the two plates. Ragged fragments, mutilated pieces of something that was supposed to be so good and simple and yummy. I grabbed a narrow rubber spatula and started the painstaking task of peeling the waffle off the Teflon surface. Little strips, long peely pieces, kind of like when you peel dried Elmer’s glue off an old messy bottle or when your shoulders peel after a sunburn. I finally finished and looked at the pile of scraps in disgust, prepared to throw them out.

Before I could, Bobby poured syrup over the whole heaping mess and carried the plate into the other room to eat. He didn’t care how it looked. It still tasted good to him.

You know, sometimes it gets discouraging serving God. We have this idea of what we should be and what He has in store for us, and we visualize ourselves fulfilling all those dreams and presenting ourselves and our accomplishments to Him, complete, with beauty and glory and righteousness. But in reality, we fail. We forget to pray, we neglect to study, we lower our standards. We mess up, and sometimes we don’t know why. We’re left, then, with something broken, ugly and so much less than it ought to be. In our disgust, we pull away and hide, thinking the effort was wasted, assuming God won’t be interested in us like this. What we have to realize is that, compared with the holy perfection that is our God, nothing we have to offer will ever measure up. All we have is a pile of debris. We need to try again, learn from others, improve through practice — but we don’t have to wait for perfection before we bring it before Him. Offer your efforts to God now, anyhow, no matter how messy or substandard or flawed. He will accept whatever you will give Him if you offer it out of love. He might even pour syrup all over it, and declare that it is good. What is certain is that He will redeem, and with His touch, the end result will be so much better. Delicious and delectable, all you’d imagined right from the start.