Thursday, October 9, 2014

Romans 15:13 Ministry: Week #4

The shortbread crust looked bad...very bad. Not in the least bit appealing.
As I stared at that anemic shortbread bar base for my pecan pie bars I began to have a sinking feeling that these dessert bars were not baking into a delectable treat, like I had hoped. The crust had strange bubbles forming and the edges weren't crisping quite right. They had already been in the oven for their designated twenty minutes. My next step was to pour in my pecan and corn syrup mixture. But I was hesitant. I was leery of wasting precious ingredients on a disaster of a crust.
I pondered how to proceed. To pour the pecan mixture or to start over again on the crust, hold onto the mixture and hope that the second shortbread turned out looking more promising than the first. After thinking on it I decided to pop the shortbread back into the oven for another few minutes and see if they showed any sign of improvement.
Five minutes later and a glimmer of hope was found in those bars. The edges were just starting to brown and the bubbles were less pronounced. I decided to pour in the pecan mixture and hope for the best.
Thirty minutes later the pecan topping had set and the bars were a beautiful brown golden hue. I couldn't believe the transformation they had undergone in the oven. The pale bars were no longer sickly looking. Once cut they revealed a perfectly crisp yet delicate base for a decadent pecan dessert. I was relieved and beyond thrilled to see that what I pulled from the oven was just what I had hoped to create: a Starbucks look alike Pecan Bar. Perfect!
I must admit I was quite surprised at the success of this latest pastry/culinary/dessert adventure. In the midst of the baking process it looked as if failure was inevitable. I really didn't put much stock in the recipe or the future of my pecan bars. I was certain they would be a dessert disaster.
But sometimes when baking, just like in life, the desired outcome can't always been seen in the midst of the process. Sometimes the future of life and the future of our baking experiment looks bleak. We are standing alone with nothing but shortbread that isn't browning quite right and we wonder, "how can this ever turn out?"
It's the story of baking and it is the story of life. In the midst of our journey we can't see the finished product. All we know is the process isn't looking so hot. It doesn't look promising. It looks disconcerting. And we start losing hope that the end result will be anything positive or, in the case of Pecan Pie Bars, tasty.
But these little indulgent dessert bars reminded me to never lose hope in the process. God may have me alone right now, feeling as if the future doesn't hold much promise for a different tomorrow. But in just a blink of an eye God can change everything. In thirty minutes Pecan Pie Bars can go from lifeless shortbread to divine decadence. And with the snap of His fingers God can turn a life upside down and inside out. There is hope in the future. There is excitement and a thrill in the unknown of what God has up ahead. And there is a purpose in every step of the process to get there.

If you decide to bake these Pecan Pie Bars don't be discouraged if you pull the crust from the oven and find that it doesn't look appealing. It isn't done baking yet. They are still in the midst of their culinary journey to the ultimate crunchy, delicate perfection. Give them more time in the oven to complete the process of becoming your perfect base to the perfect Pecan Pie Bar. And don't give up hope on the deliciousness that is baking up in your oven. Even when you can't smell a tantalizing scent or see a golden brown forming on the edges of your crust, something magical might be happening as your bars bake in the oven. Just have patience in the process and keep your eyes set on the promise and hope of the future glory to come.

I baked these Pecan Pie Bars for the lovely ladies at the Women's Connection Ministry. I hope they enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed baking them. If you give them a try I hope you enjoy the process of baking them just as much as the process of devouring them!

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