The Parable of the Pies
by Annmarie Williams
It was a cool, crisp morning. My list of things to do was long and varied. Suddenly I heard a loud knock. Answering the door, I found the most amazing Man I had ever met. Never having been much of a follower, I was surprised to find that I wanted to please this Stranger. He explained that there was to be a dinner and He needed me to make a few pies to bring. I readily agreed to do it. You would have too; this Man was amazing.
He handed me a detailed recipe and I hesitantly headed toward my kitchen. I had made pies before, even a few good ones, but this recipe called for many ingredients that I was unsure of. As I got to work I found the task more difficult than I had first thought. I was forced to make many substitutions as I went, for I simply didn’t have what the recipe called for. Finally they were all ready. Though I had struggled somewhat in the process, I looked at the end result with pride. The golden, fluted edges of the crust hinted at the delectable filling underneath.
When I arrived at the dinner I was surprised to see others entering with pies. It seemed that it was to be an old fashioned pie social. The tables were loaded with sumptuous looking pies. I was pleased to see that my pies looked to be some of the best. With great eagerness I stepped in line and took a plate and fork. I bypassed the other pies for a taste of my own. As I cut the first slice I was greeted with an odd, unpleasant smell. It was an odor associated with rottenness. I sat down hesitantly to taste what I was now very unsure of. The first bite brought tears to my eyes. The fruit was rotten, the spices were all wrong, and I had used salt instead of sugar. In utter agony I watched as some of my closest friends took slices of my rotten pie.
Then I heard a voice next to me. To my great shame it was The Amazing Man. Without a word of explanation He seemed to know the cause of my tears.”Did you read the instructions at the top of the recipe?” He asked.
My heart plunged as I reached into my purse for the forgotten slip of paper. Across the top of the paper, in bold letters it said: Do not bake this in your own kitchen! Please come to my house. My kitchen is stocked with all the special ingredients, they can be found no where else. There will be a helper to assist with the directions!
No wonder my pies were so hideous! How did I not see these directions when they were of vital importance? Then I vaguely recalled reading them once but remembered that I had concluded that I would manage just fine in my own comfortable kitchen.
Graciously the Man led me from the table. We threw away the pies and headed toward His house. I am still making these pies. It is difficult sometimes because I learned some bad habits when I made those first pies. However, the Helper is grand! He is always quick to point me in the right direction. The Man’s cupboards are always stocked with the freshest ingredients. There are times when I head back to my kitchen, but I read the recipe often now. When I start to put one of my own pies in the oven, those bold directions come rushing back to mind and the Man is always there to take me back.
This story may sound silly, but it is a picture of my spiritual journey.
I had always looked upon the Bible as my “recipe” for the Christian life. Love, peace, patience, goodness, self-control, and kindness were the ingredients. My life was the symbolic pie. When it came time to eat my pie, I found it full of rotten self righteousness, not the fruit of the Spirit (Isaiah 64:6).
For years I had attempted to live the Christian life using my resources; it almost killed me. The harder I tried to be loving, patient and kind, the more difficult it came. I expected it to become easier, but–to my dismay–each act became increasingly painful. No longer was there a thrill in reading God’s Word because it seemed powerless to enable me to accomplish even the smallest thing for the Lord John 15:5b).
I felt in bondage to anything and everything. No longer could I cling to the high opinion I had of myself and my spiritual disciplines. They were rapidly becoming a thing of the past. My spiritual life seemed as dry as Death Valley; I was hopeless, or so I thought. I had the concrete knowledge that I was saved by the blood of my Savior, but how I longed to be one of those running to the altar to rise with joy on their face. If this was the Christian life then I longed for death as an escape from my prison–the prison of pretending that being a Christian was desirable.
But God is gracious. He saw my heart yearning for more. (More of what, I knew not at the time). But He knew. In the midst of my agony He gently showed me those bold directions: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The abundant life is the exchanged life; my life for His. I died and He now lives in me. The love, patience, goodness, etc., are HIS! When I allow Him to live through me by daily reckoning the old me as crucified, the result is a pleasant aroma and a life–Christ’s life–abundantly full of good fruit.
Annmarie, her husband, Mark, and their two children live in Tennessee. She is a student in the GFI Counseling Institute. MAARWILLIAMS@peoplepc.com