Pass the donutsIn honor of National Donut Day, I thought I’d post an old essay of mine, the one that inspired the name of my old blog, The Whole Box of Donuts. Enjoy!
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! ~Matthew 7:11, NIV
When I started attending my church, we had donuts every week in the adult Sunday school class. (I wonder what drew me more at first, the hunger for knowledge or the craving for sugar?) It was part of the ritual – hug a couple people, doctor our coffees, and pass around the flat white boxes of Krispy Kremes, licking the icing flakes off our fingertips. Mmm. I hoped someone would pass, leaving me an extra, but I never wanted to look like a pig by taking two right away. Forget bran flakes and yogurt; I want to start my day with donuts.
One day, not long after I began attending our church, I was talking to our pastor, Nathan. I had questions about everything. I didn’t understand the emotions, the jargon, the feelings. People talked about intense spiritual experiences that seemed crazy, delusional – just plain made up. Rather than longing for those moments, I questioned their legitimacy, and wondered how much of it I wanted for myself. I stumbled over “Christian-ese,” the confusing terminology that many Christians use in an attempt to explain complex spiritual concepts in simple words. In particular, I had questions about the “baptism of the Holy Ghost.” The term, as they were using it, refers to speaking in tongues. In my circles, everybody talked about it, but I wasn’t convinced that I wanted it. I didn’t understand it, and I thought possibly I’d be just fine without it. I believed the Holy Spirit lived inside me. I felt the changes in my life. I’d become aware of the presence of God in my daily activities. I’d learned to talk to Him throughout the day, and I thought that was enough. I was tired of feeling like I was lacking because I hadn’t experienced what someone else had. Wasn’t what I already had enough?
Pastor Nathan asked me if I’d ever watched someone being offered donuts. Sure, I said. Every Sunday morning.
“What does that person do?” he asked.
I looked at him, not sure where he was going with this.
“He just takes one. That’s all,” he said. Nathan was right. If you offer someone a donut, he’ll look through the box, carefully selecting the one he wants. He may hesitate over his choice; he may reach for the cream-filled one with chocolate icing only to nab the cinnamon twist at the last second. But he just takes one, which he eats and enjoys. Then he stops. If there’s an extra, he might go back for more – if he’s not watching his waistline, and if there’s enough to go around. But really, one is all he needs.
That’s how many Christians are about spiritual gifts, he told me. Someone finds God, and he thinks he’s only supposed to take a little bit and leave the rest for someone else. It’s easy to think that way, since even just a small bit is good, and sweet, and wonderful. Many people are satisfied with that small bit. Nathan, though, is not. He told me that day that he wants the whole box. Jelly-filled, cinnamon twists, glazed, cake, cream-filled with maple icing and sprinkles. One just isn’t enough. He doesn’t want to read the Word without living it. He doesn’t want to pray without the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t want to read about the Apostles and not practice their acts. He doesn’t believe healing and other miracles are given only to a few. If God created it, Nathan wants to experience it. If God gave it to the Disciples, He will give it to us.
We try so hard not to overstep our bounds, not to take more than we need. We don’t want to look greedy by asking for too much. We haven’t spent enough time with other believers, sharing our experiences, or we haven’t studied our Bibles closely, and we simply don’t know what spiritual gifts are available. Whatever the reason, the result is that sometimes we forget that God has the power to do anything. He is the Creator of life, and He is above all. He will not run out of gifts. It’s all freely offered to us, and no matter how much of it we accept, there’s still an unending supply for anyone else who wants more. Nathan wants it all.
Me, too. Pass the donuts.