Sunday, April 26, 2009

Challenge: Keeping In Step with the Spirit

Despite being married 23 years, I’m not a good cook.

Recently I overheard my husband, George, claim that living with me has been a life-long exercise in “faith-based eating.” Oh, that husband of mine, he’s so funny.

But he’s oh so right.

For example, once it was my turn to cook for a group of friends. Playing it safe, I prepared a stew which mainly required opening lots of cans. Imagine my horror when one friend ladled up a deadly-sharp can lid!

Now that you know the extent of my culinary deficits, you might be surprised to learn that I recently entered my church’s chili cook-off to benefit ALS.

Perhaps no one was more surprised than George.

But I did enter, a move not unlike a tone-deaf person auditioning for American Idol.

For weeks I tested several recipes until I finally concocted an original—which won the competition!

As Kelly Clarkson sang, “Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.” Or at least 23 years.

I’ve been so elated that I’ve been wearing my first-prize apron embroidered, “Grand Champion Chili Chef 2009” to school functions, church services, funerals, gynecology appointments, etc.

Oh, I kid. But I just can’t get over succeeding in a challenge I never dreamed possible.

George and I recently began hosting an Alpha group, where people come to wrestle with the big questions of life pertaining to faith. We were excited to begin, but for the first few weeks, we felt uncomfortable and a little incompetent, like I do in a kitchen.

Soon, we forged true friendships, sharing moments of spiritual growth that we never would have if we hadn’t said yes to the risky opportunity.

And last year, George began meeting weekly with an elementary student as part of the Kids’ Hope USA Program. At first he felt awkward and ineffective, but the student’s enthusiasm for their weekly meetings has affirmed George’s sense of purpose and fulfilled his desire to positively influence a student.

So maybe old dogs can learn new tricks. Because we were willing to feel uncomfortable for a little while, we’re leading a small group; George now has a precious new friend, and the world has a brand new chili recipe that totally rocks!

If we’re willing to find the places where God is at work and step into the game, we can shake off routine and make a difference. A little bit of discomfort can do a body and spirit good.

Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Is God calling you to take a step somewhere out of your comfort zone today? What will you miss if you don’t? What might you gain if you do?
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