Wednesday was a hectic day, so it was 10:30 PM by the time I started making the cookies Sean needed for a school bake sale. It’s a recipe I’ve used dozens of times, but I’ve never memorized it. My mind, frankly, on other things, I glanced at the recipe, quickly measured and combined the ingredients, and stirred. I could tell almost immediately that the batter was too runny. I took a deep breath, looked at the recipe more carefully, and realized I had added two tablespoons of water rather than two teaspoons. The dough wasn’t going to hold its shape. I tried to think of ways to mitigate the damage, but adding anything to the batter was going to change the taste. I dumped the bowl and started again.

As I mixed up the new batch, the old tongue-twister “Betty Botter bought some butter” ran through my head. But that tale of bitter butter ruining batter soon gave way to thoughts of the recipe for our daily lives. We think we know the ingredients well, and are sure we remember the proportions, but then come the days – whether because of fatigue, hurry, or any of the countless challenges we face – when we get the recipe wrong. We throw in too much worry and not enough faith. We add stress instead of hope. We rely too much on ourselves and not enough on the Lord. When that happens, our hearts can’t hold their shape. We grasp for artificial answers to our pain, but they just take us further from God. Placed in the heat of adversity, we melt.

When we let the world mix us up the wrong way, we need to step back and start again. We need to regain our balance and place the proper ingredients, in the proper proportions, into our lives. And the only way to do this successfully is to study the recipe God has created for us, that brilliant and glorious combination of Scripture, prayer, and grace, and follow it with care and rigor. Then, we can withstand any heat, hold our shape as His children, and bring His sweetness and light into the world.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s Will is—His good, pleasing and perfect Will.”

Romans 12:2