Last Sunday afternoon, however, I was at a loss at what to take. I didn't have the time or energy to fix a soup. I didn't have the supplies for sandwiches. Scrounging through my pantry, I emerged with a pack of seasoned rice. My thought was to cut up the leftover pork chops, toss them, along with the flavored rice, into the crock pot, add some water and broth and create a soup of sorts. When Jason saw my plan, he immediately began to help, adding his own offerings to the mix. All afternoon, the two of us added little things to the soup--a can of black beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a few seasonings here and there. After a while, it began to smell good. . .really good!!!!
But as we tasted our hodgepodge concoction, we both agreed that something was missing. Unfortunately, neither of us could figure out what. Jason perused the various seasonings on the rack as I once again scrounged through the pantry and then the refrigerator. After several minutes, Jason decided to add a splash of lemon juice to the mix, and you know what? That was it! That was the missing ingredient! Who would have thought that a tiny splash of lemon juice would turn an okay soup into a culinary masterpiece? (Okay, maybe it wasn't that good, but it was very tasty. The worst part was trying to answer the question, "Hey, what kind of soup is that?" Um, well. . .)
Some days I take a big bite out of life and realize that something's missing. Everything is okay, but something is not quite right. And as it was with the soup, it is often tricky to figure out what the missing ingredient is. But, I've been doing a lot of praying and soul-searching lately, and God has revealed to me an ingredient that is often missed in various parts of my life. No, it's not lemon juice. It's something much sweeter. My missing ingredient is grace.
Understand that I'm not saying grace is missing from my life because I haven't received any. That's not it at all. It's not the receiving that is lacking, but rather the extending of grace. In my Gung ho approach to conquer each day and its many tasks, I often fail to take the time to step outside of my own little zone and look for opportunities to extend grace to others. Then, of course, there are times when the opportunities are right in front of me, but my selfishness and pride talk me into offering sarcasm, bitterness or moodiness instead. And suddenly, life doesn't taste just right. Things aren't what I know they should be. And I have no one to blame but myself.
Now that I've finally figured out the missing ingredient, I have begun paying attention to what's going on outside my own little world. I have started looking for opportunities to extend grace to others. When that little voice within me begins to grumble about someone else's actions or attitudes, I am learning to silence it by remembering how many times I've received grace and by realizing that God would have me to pass on what I've received. And you know what? Life is tasting sweeter each day. Do I still have problems? You bet I do. Are some days still difficult? Absolutely. But as odd as it sounds, it seems that the more grace I give out the more I have for myself. And each day seems to taste a little better than the day before.
All that from a simple dash of grace! Who would have thought?
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. - Colossians 4:6