It was a fall day, much like the ones we have been having lately, when I sat at her kitchen counter. I had been there before... drank her sweet tea before... talked about school and boys and life before... but on this day, it was different.
You see, I met the Leslie family six years ago during a difficult time in my life. One major chapter of my life had ended and I was completely unsure of the next. I knew that God was in control (thank you Jeremiah 29:11 among the others) but I like holding onto the map and at this moment, I didn't have a map.
So, at her kitchen counter I sat and witnessed the most amazing thing. Mary Leslie made her middle child chocolate chip cookies to take to school. Not break-and-bake cookies but actual, honest to goodness, homemade, with Crisco and all, chocolate chip cookies.
This may not seem like a big deal but in the house I grew up in, I never saw cookies made from scratch. Much less that much time and effort put into a school snack. My house was different. But this house... this mom... well, I liked this kind of different.
There was more to it than just the chocolate chip cookies. There was an openness and a sense of understanding and peace that prevailed. There wasn't any judgment to be found. Only love... and cookies and sweet tea.
Throughout the years these cookies have been a symbol to me of the love that Jesus has for me. He doesn't take the easy way out. He puts in the time and effort and energy and most importantly, the love, that is required for homemade goodness. He gives me this love when I don't deserve it and haven't done anything to earn it. He gives me His best because He loves me. That's it. No strings. No frills. No buts. He loves me and because of His love, I love Him.
So... what do you do with chocolate chip cookies?
One thing I know about Mary Leslie's cookies is that they don't go to waste! You better be there when they come out of the oven or you may miss out! I've never seen (or heard of) Mary hoarding her cookies for herself but rather she gives them away. All of them.
Jesus's love for me is the same way. Now that I know the love that can only come from our perfect Father in heaven, I have to give it away. I can't keep it to myself and store it up like cookies from a kid. It is so amazing and life changing that it must be given away if it is to be worth anything!
How do you do this? How do I do this? Well, I think the answer to this question is just as perplexing as asking it in the first place. Are you at a place where you actually want to step out of your comfort zone and give away what is most dear to you? If so, then I would suggest reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker and Radical by David Platt and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. All of these books answer this question... Jesus loves me, this I know... now what do I do with it?
For me, this means standing up for my convictions. It means talking about what Jesus has done in my life when it's not necessarily trendy. It means inviting people in to my home and beginning relationships. It means telling my girl over and over and over again that Jesus does love her and He calls us to love others. It means writing scripture on my wall, literally, as a reminder of His homemade goodness and mercy and grace.
Now, what will you do with chocolate chip cookies? My prayer is that you will give them away. And give away the love Jesus has given you at the same time!
"let us not love in words or speech but with actions and in truth." ~ 1 john 3:18