I will never forget that day in Mrs. Brown’s third and fourth grade class (our school was so small, they combined classes). It was Dennis Stuart’s turn to bring class refreshments.
That’s the hallowed day when I was introduced to Mrs. Stuart’s No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies.
All I could think as I was relishing every divine morsel and washing it down with ice-cold milk from my half-pint carton was Where have you been all my life? All ten long years of it.
To this day—if I even smell these mouth-watering goodies—I’m a goner. Any sense of self-control is just an illusion.
That’s when I try to rationalize my decision to indulge: Oatmeal is in one of the four major food groups, right?
Can you relate?
I’ve spent lots of years trying to make No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies as delicious as Mrs. Stuart’s, but I think she will always be the “No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Queen” in my eyes.
Here’s one recipe I got out of my bright pink Perryton Full Gospel Church cookbook almost twenty years ago (Thanks, Edna Lee Grimmer for the wedding present and Alice Pingleton for the recipe!):
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1 stick oleo
1/2 c. milk
3 c. quick-cooking rolled oats, uncooked
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. nuts
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine sugar, cocoa, oleo and milk and bring to a boil. Mix in other ingredients, drop on foil and let cool.
I guess I have a lot of my mom in me when it comes to cooking and baking. I like to tweak recipes just to see if I can make them even tastier.
So, what follows is my tweaking:
Start with a medium-sized sauce pan on medium-high heat.
Just like the recipe says, add your 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of cocoa (any brand will do), and whatever you do, DO NOT substitute margarine for real butter! (Butter is always better.)
Then add 1/2 cup whole milk (the creamier the better!) and stir with a wooden spoon (not sure why wooden; that’s just what I’ve always used). Hey, that reminds of the story of the inquisitive daughter watching her mom bake a ham.
Anyway … bring all of those ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat, then add 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (don’t skimp with the imitation stuff here).
Now, here comes my biggest tweak in the recipe; one that took me a few batches to figure out.
Instead of 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of nuts, add 1 heaping cup of crunchy peanut butter and stir until it’s all melted in the chocolate mixture.
Then add 3 cups of oats (I use Old-Fashioned Oats because they’re just oatier—sorry, English teachers!) and stir well. (You could also add 1 tsp of cinnamon if you like chocolate and cinnamon together.)
Finally, drop by large tablespoons full onto a sheet of aluminum foil.
I double-dog dare you to try to wait until they’re cool before you get a taste. (Insert big smiley-faced emoji here.)
Now, lest you think I’ve done a 360 and gone all Betty Crocker (instead of Bible-based blogger) on you, God taught me a major spiritual lesson when I was trying to get these cookies to turn out like Mrs. Stuart’s.
When I followed the original recipe, my cookies were too soft; they didn’t set.
So, I reasoned that adding more oatmeal should fix the problem. Makes sense, right?
It didn’t work, though. They had more oatmeal in them, but they were still gooey.
That’s when I thought about exchanging the 1/2 cup peanut butter and the 1/2 cup of nuts for 1 heaping cup of crunchy peanut butter.
Guess what? Making that exchange made all the difference! Mrs. Francis’ No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies ended up turning out pretty good. (Still not as good as Mrs. Stuart’s.)
Now, for the spiritual parallel:
When life stops working the way we want it to, what we usually do is add more “TRY” to the mix, thinking that should do the trick.
Instead, what we end up with is one big WEARY mess.
The thing is, God doesn’t want us to crank out our self-sufficient, natural strength and “try harder” when life gets especially hard. (He doesn’t even want us to live from our natural strength in the not-so-hard times.)
Rather, He wants us to acknowledge that the God of the universe lives in us 24/7/365 and exchange our “do it ourselves” attitudes with “God, I’m going to trust in Your supernatural strength within me to do it all through me!”
“God, instead of living my life for You, I choose to live from Your all-sufficient life that is inseparably fused to mine!”
What do you say? Are you up for the challenge?
Are you willing to exchange your 1/2 c. peanut butter + 1/2 c. nuts (your self-sufficiency) for 1 heaping cup of crunchy peanut butter (God’s All-Sufficiency)?
All it takes is a little mental tweaking and a lot of practice. When you learn this way of living, I think you will find a skip in your step and a smile on your face a lot more often.
Dear reader, I hope you enjoyed my somewhat silly illustration today. I’m wondering, has God ever taught you spiritual lessons through your day-in and day-out activities?
Everything’s spiritual when we are depending on the Spirit of Christ to live His life through us!
Until next time,
Live Christ—Live Happy!
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