When I was a child, nothing tasted better than a soft sugar cookie, warm from the oven. My mother’s cookies melted in my mouth and satisfied my need for something sweet after a day of school. Passing on our faith is like baking cookies. And just as gratifying to the soul. Here’s why I say that:
Baking cookies takes time. Ingredients must be mixed, dropped onto a cookie sheet and baked before the finished product is ready to eat. Passing on our faith also takes time. We serve as daily role models to family members so others see what the “finished product” looks like. We talk about faith and life in daily conversation with children and grandchildren: “Look at that beautiful flower.” “Feel that breeze.” “What a view!” We return excess change because honesty is not just the best policy, it’s what God expects. When we go through fiery trials and disappointments, such as our confinement during this coronavirus, we trust God to see us through and even bless us in the process. All the while, others watch and listen, learning from our example how to handle the vagaries of life with faith intact.
Baking cookies requires a variety of ingredients. Flour provides texture; sugar, sweetness; peanut butter, a distinctive taste. Salt enhances the flavor, and egg binds ingredients together. We, of course, must develop our own faith before we can pass it on, and faith development in our own lives also requires a variety of ingredients--that is, experiences. The daily discipline of Christian living include scripture reading to provide the texture of our faith; prayer, the sweetness. Our experiences create a unique, distinctive story to share, and worship enhances our lives. Like an egg, showing love demonstrates and binds all other aspects of our lives together
Baking cookies means following a recipe—and recipes differ. One calls for shortening; another, for butter. One suggests topping the cookie with chocolate candy; another, rolling the unbaked cookie in sugar. Likewise, the “recipe” of passing on a legacy of faith may differ according to individuals. We encourage someone who enjoys art to draw a picture of what they pray for. We take a prayer walk with a youth who has trouble sitting. For those in tune with music, we suggest they draw close to God as they listen, sing, or even play songs of worship on an instrument. God did not make us using one cookie-cutter. We all have personalities and preferences that affect how we learn, and we can best pass on our faith if we respect those aspects of human development.
Baking cookies leaves a mess. No matter how careful we are, we spill sugar and flour on the counter or even drop an egg on the floor. And even though we follow the recipe, our cookies never look like the picture in the cookbook. So with sharing our faith. Sometimes we stumble over words. We sometimes say the “wrong” thing. And the person with whom we share, may not react as we expect. What we can count on is that God will use even our awkward attempts to work in people’s hearts.
Like nibbling on a cookie dipped in milk, the end result of sharing our faith is amazingly satisfying. Hearing a child pray warms my heart more than a warm cookie tickles my taste buds. Seeing a child stop to pick up someone who tripped, delights my spirit just as a perfectly baked cookie delights my eyes. I get excited when I hear that my grandchildren attend youth groups and go on mission trips. Proverbs 22:6 challenges parents to “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” We shape a life as we share our faith.
Are you feeding the faith of your family or just satisfying their appetites? Have a cup of coffee and a cookie as you pray about who might benefit from hearing your story of faith and seeing your faith in action.