“So this is what they meant when they said this is a ‘rigorous endeavor not for the faint of heart.’"
One aspect of the Fellows program is living with a host family from the church at which you serve. It’s an amazing opportunity to be a firsthand witness to an established Christian marriage and to experience another family’s dynamics. I lucked out with the coolest couple who have so generously opened their swanky home to me.
Another aspect of the program is that every Thursday night the Fellows gather for dinner and roundtable discussion. The Fellows rotate cooking duties each week.
A couple weeks ago I was on duty, and the dish I chose contained chicken. I decided to cook the chicken the night before so as to save preparation time the day of.
I didn’t get around to putting the chicken in the oven until about 10:30 pm, which was probably my first questionable decision of the evening. But the chicken was safely in the oven, and I took the opportunity to FaceTime my sister.
Just a couple minutes into the baking process, I became aware of smoke beginning to seep out of the oven. I opened the oven doors, and I was met with a face-full of smoke pouring out of the oven into the house.
I’m convinced nothing can strike fear into the hearts of men like the possibility of scaring awake their parents who aren’t really their parents at 11:00 pm with the smoke alarm because of their sketchy decision to do some late-night cooking.
My first thought, of course: ANYTHING BUT THE SMOKE ALARM. My loving host parents had gone to bed about two hours ago. I needed to find the smoke alarm STAT or there would be tears.
Sorry in advance for all the poor similes, but I started throwing open the windows and sashes like ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas and waving towels in the air like a Pittsburgh Steelers home game. Only one thing became important, became all-consuming, became my entire life’s goal and passion in that moment, and that was to prevent the smoke alarm from going off. At that point, I had probably started bargaining with God in prayer.
In classic adulthood fashion (adulthood: see “nothing goes as planned”), the smoke alarm ended up going off, my host dad rushed out because the house might be on fire, and we figured out that the oven was unclean and something had been burning in the bottom.
That’s something I usually check for, but this time I had forgotten, and now my host parents probably think I’m an incompetent twenty-something who cannot cook. But forgetting has been a recurring theme for me lately.
All of our sin comes from forgetting.
From not remembering what God has done.
From not remembering His faithfulness in the past.
From not remembering who He is.
From not remembering who I am, what my identity is in Him.
In the past when I’ve read the Old Testament, I always thought the Israelites were just a bumbling group of thick-heads. God is constantly reminding them “Remember I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, who saved you from slavery, who delivered you to the Promised Land, who provided food and provisions for you in the desert, who provided a leader for you, who provided literally everything you’ve ever needed in life and has been obviously present with you every step of the way, fools!!!” (minus the fools part, probably). I’ve always simply scoffed at the dumb little Israelites who can’t get it through their heads that, DUH, God is God, he is faithful, and he will continue to provide!
But that’s me. I’m an Israelite.
Was not God faithful the last time I was placed in a completely foreign place and environment and surrounded by complete strangers?
Was not God faithful just a couple months ago in leading me here to Nashville?
And in the midst of forgetting, what does Israel do? The look for ways they can regain control over their lives because trust, that monster, is just too difficult. They put security in idols. They wander aimlessly. They seek things that are more tangible and controllable than God, things that will medicate the discomfort and pain immediately.
That pattern in my own life has become painfully clear during my time as a Fellow. Maybe it’s something about the rigor of this program, or something about being a newborn adult, or a combination of both, but I’m at a place where I’ve never been more aware of and overwhelmed by the entrenched sin and idolatry patterns in my life.
At the same time, maybe that’s the place we all need to reach. A place where we are so overwhelmed with our depravity that our need for the gospel is all-consuming. This has become my prayer as of late, and I hope it becomes yours as well.