I had never baked chicken before.
If you wanted your chicken stir-fried or marinaded tender in a soup, no sweat. I’ve paid my dues learning to cook as sous chef under my Chinese mom growing up. I can tackle a whole chicken with cleaver, giblets and all. But, I had never put a bird in the oven before.
I was a newly married wife to a husband who loved barbecue chicken. I wanted to surprise my less-than-one-week-old groom and greet him at the door — with a hug and the smell of a favorite meal cooking up close behind me.
I read the recipe. Brush olive oil on the chicken breast… Stick them in the oven. Easy enough.
What threw me off wasn’t the prep.
Bake 40 minutes.
My husband was due home in 20 minutes.
There was no way I could shorten time. Wait a minute… Maybe I could!
The directions called for an oven temperature of 325 degrees. I solved the problem by cutting my baking time in half — by turning up the temperature to 500 degrees.
I sighed with relief, set my egg timer and hurried off to jump in the shower and tidy up the place. I hadn’t gotten far into the process when I was interrupted by the ear-piercing shrill of the smoke alarm.
I jolted from one end of our apartment to the kitchen in my towel and flung the oven door open. Black smoke fumed out.
Oh. My. Gosh.
The chicken was definitely done.
The In-Between Time
Cooking isn’t the only area in my life I’ve tried to hurry up time.
Waiting for an answered prayer — for God’s plans to come to fruition — has given me plenty of In-Between Time.
I try to help God out by making things happen faster. I turn up the heat and double up on commitment, passion and planning.
I end up getting burned. To a crisp.
Joy and peace go up in flames. Relationships get scorched.
It’s hard to see the value of the In-Between time from our everyday perspective.
The world says if we’re not living our dreams, we’re wasting time.
What did I do today… this week, month or year?
Honestly, I’ve simply been trying to survive.
How inspiring is that? I struggled to see God’s purpose in the menial and monotony of the daily grind.
Then, I stumbled on something that changed my mind.
The world celebrates people who go out and make things happen. In the world of ideas, unless you’re working towards measurable results, you’re not very influential.
Funny thing is, most of life is lived in the In-Between time.
Jesus sees significance in our In-Between time. Jesus takes what we think is of little use and builds a life of fruitfulness.
“Abide in me and I in you and you will bear fruit.” John 15:5
Abiding doesn’t sound impressive. I doubt it’d make a good marketing slogan or create much buzz in today’s speaking circuit. Kinda archaic compared to our self-made headlines.
Yet, it is the one action Jesus reveals in His secret to living a fruitful life. What does it actually mean? I wondered?
The Greek word for “abide” is Meno
1. to survive
2. to be held
3. to wait
I was stunned. Simply surviving makes a difference to God. The optimal conditions for soul work kicks in. We’re led rather than leading, held by God rather than grasping for success.
It is not easy, because I drift. But, Jesus doesn’t expect perfection. He treasures my faith.
Right now matters, because Jesus works in our everyday moments.Whether we’re weak or strong, worried or doubtful, drawing close to God changes who we are. And that does inspire me.
Jesus tells us things that are different from the world. We’re no longer trapped by our need to be useful, important or gifted.
We were made to be loved. That love produces a beautiful garden within you and me.
What Matters More
It’s during the In-Between time, God’s love bears fruit. The seeds God plants in us eventually nurture love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. It may not attract a lot of attention, but it’s what makes a difference to me, my family, friends and to God.
I used to obsess over what God’s plan was for me. I worried about the significance of what I was doing. I still wonder. But now, I’m more focused on who I am becoming.
What matters more is my faith and allowing God to cultivate His garden in me.
Right now matters. So do you.
As for my 500 degree chicken? I cut off the black char and smothered it with BBQ sauce. I got the fan blaring, opened the windows and blasted lemon-scent Lysol everywhere.
When we sat down for dinner, my sweet husband vigorously and quietly chewed on dried out, cardboard-like chicken. Finally, mid-way through, he spoke.
“Just curious, Honey… What did you put in the chicken?”
“It’s uh… my secret sauce,” I quickly changed the subject.
Later that night, I confessed. I promised never to use my secret sauce again.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for he who comes to God must believe that He is
and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
Please share — How are you walking through an In-Between time?
By Bonnie Gray, Faith Barista
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