Last Saturday, in "Preparing the Mango, Part 2", we saw that we get
through our trials, not by focusing on them, but by surrendering them to
the God of the universe. This frees us to focus on the needs of others,
and when we do, our own troubles shrink back to a manageable size.
There is but one more lesson to be learned from my poor husband's experience with the mango and the knife.
You women out there, and perhaps a few of you men as well, are probably asking yourselves why my husband was so taken aback by the presence of a mango and a knife in his hands. After all, they are such little things, and preparing a mango isn't exactly difficult!
It is because the task pushed him outside his comfort zone. You see, although he has a wonderful heart and will do anything he is comfortable with to be helpful, the preparation of food is not and has never been something he is comfortable with. It all began as a child when his mother refused to allow him in the kitchen, and any time he asked to help her with the preparation of food, he was told that this was women's work. It didn't help either that when we were first married, I was dead set on proving to my mother-in-law that I could take care of her son (isn't it silly the things that motivate us when we are feeling insecure?). Thus, even then, he was not encouraged to be in the kitchen. So that day when I handed him the knife and the mango, he truly had no concept of what to do with it. I was pushing him completely outside his comfort zone, and even though I showed him exactly how to do what I wanted done, and even though, in the end, he produced a delicious mango salad, he was not comfortable with the task.
So why did I do it?
Because I firmly believed that he was capable of making a delicious mango salad, one that I didn't have time to make! I believed in him, I wanted to boost his self-confidence in the kitchen, and in the end, it was a help to me.
But perhaps there was yet another reason...
You see, there are many things my husband is comfortable in doing around the house, but he doesn't do very many of them in the way I would want them done. Why? Because he knows how to do the task and he doesn't see the need to ask for guidance...When I handed him the mango, I knew it was something he would have to rely 100% on me in order to accomplish--the way I wanted it to be accomplished!
So often in my walk with God, He has pushed me outside of my comfort zone. In fact, if it is a task I am 100% comfortable with, I am at risk of self-reliance, and as such, I may jeopardize the entire task by not looking to God to see how HE wants it done. But when God gives me something I am totally unequipped to do, I have no choice but to rely on Him 100% of the time, and as such, the task is done--not by my standards, but by His!
What is God asking you to do today? Is it something you are comfortable with? If so, take that extra minute to do it God's way, and not your own. Is it something you are not comfortable with? Then buckle up and prepare for an exciting ride, one where you will have to rely on Him 100% of the time, one where there is no chance of you going wrong, because you are so focused on Him.
Could this be why God allows us to go through trials? Because they take us out of our comfort zone? Because they force us to rely on God 100% of the time? Could it be that this is just the lesson He hopes for us to learn in the midst of our difficulties? 100% reliance on Him? All the time?
Remember: If I had never asked my husband to cut the mango, he would never have relied on my direction. In the same way, if God had asked me to do anything less than go through the valley of cancer, I would have never learned to rely on Him 100% of the time.
What "mangos" are you being asked to "cut" right now? In what ways are you being pushed out of your comfort zone? Don't ever forget: On your own you can do nothing, but with Christ, you can do ALL things...Simply by leaning on the strength He provides: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13)
Oh, and I have this mango that needs to be prepared for a mango salad...Any volunteers?
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire "Preparing the Mango" mini-series, please click here.)