Macaroni Masterpieces

It finally happened to me.

I've been speaking fulltime for ten years, and pastors usually ask me to talk about stress, relationships, or habits. All of the things "shrinks" like me are supposed to know about. One of my messages is about habits and how our spirit has been redeemed, but our body still comes from Grandpa Adam. I tell a funny story about a church giving me a welcome basket filled with Snickers. At 10 p.m., in a lonely hotel room, a man of God like me cannot handle the temptation of Snickers. I pray, but my prayer soon devolves into a blessing for the Snickers — or sometimes many Snickers. Given my "Adam suit," the Snickers always win. Almost every week I try to help people understand the power of the Adam suit. However, last week, I was reminded that it's even more powerful than I thought.

I speak at the FBC Dallas "Power Lunch" the first Thursday of each month. I'm scheduled to do it for a year, and I'm about halfway through the year. So you would think that the Adam suit that I call mine would show up for that. Well, I didn't.

On Thursday, around noon, the church called, in a panic, and asked where I was. My wife had to tell them that I was out in the yard watering our new trees. I thought my first missed speaking engagement would be because the plane was delayed or maybe a flat tire. But I was in my own yard, fifty minutes down the road. Now how could a grown man with a doctor's degree, who has shown up to speak at gatherings at least a thousand times before, not show up? It's the great illustration of our Adam suit.

This is how it happened.

I play in a church golf tournament close to my house every year. My son-in-law's father and I play together, and we've been playing together for many years. This week, we had dinner with a staff member from that church, and he invited us to play in a different tournament this week. So I went to the golf tournament and discovered many of the same people were playing in this tournament, at the same course, at the same time, and even with the same lunch as the other tournament. Everything was the same, except this tournament was on Wednesday and the other tournament is always on Monday.

This old habit caused my body to tell my brain that I was playing golf on Monday although it was Wednesday. When I got up on Thursday, my body told me it was Tuesday. I immediately began watering my new trees. There was no computer or cell phone to remind me what day it was. I didn't need a calendar because my body told me it was Tuesday. Unfortunately, hundreds of people were waiting on me to do Power Lunch. The pastor, Robert Jeffress, covered for me and talked about forgiveness — so he had to forgive me. I will show up next month because my wife, Penny, has now resorted to old technology and put a large whiteboard calendar over my desk with my speaking engagements in Sharpie black. There are also alarms on the calendar to ensure that I have the right week and alarms on my phone to yell at me. So, what is the life lesson?

It has taught me the power of my Adam suit in making day-to-day decisions. It has also made me think of other areas in which my Adam suit has caused me to miss God's best.

One day I'll have a new body, but, today, I have to give the Snickers away, keep the Sharpie calendar on my wall, and depend on a few other things to keep my Adam suit on schedule and on track. What do you need to do?

I don't want to be too simplistic. Our greatest problem is not environmental or mental — it is spiritual. God understands that your redeemed spirit lives in an earth suit. He knows that you are dirt. So don't beat yourself up over eating a Snickers. The guilt will make you want another one. Ultimately, it will not matter so much how well you guard your heart, but to Whom your heart belongs. Then, even your mistakes and mess-ups won't matter that much.

As a parent, I can relate to that. When your kindergartener brings you a messy picture with painted macaroni all over it, you know that it's something, you just don't know what. You exclaim how pretty it is and ask about it. Your child tells you that it's Abraham Washington's log cabin with Jefferson's cherry tree in front. The story is messed up and the picture is awful, but you glance at the bottom, see it's addressed to you, and all of a sudden the macaroni becomes a masterpiece.

I have to admit that on that Thursday I was macaroni, but someday I'll be a masterpiece. On that day, I'm going to celebrate and have a Snickers. (They're OK for a celebration, just not for comfort.)

And speaking of celebrations, Christmas is the time we celebrate that Jesus showed up. He didn't miss His appointment on that starry Christmas night. I'm glad He isn't like me; He always shows up when He is supposed to.