I despise soggy cereal! When I was a kid, there was a grandmotherly woman named Mrs. Shelton who would sometimes care for us if my parents were out of town. She had a very effective way of getting us out of bed in the morning. She would turn on the bedroom light and sweetly say, “I just poured the milk in your cereal.” About three and a half seconds later we were at the table eating breakfast!
My own children now hate soggy cereal as much as I did back then. But recently we had a “soggy cereal” incident which taught me a very important spiritual truth.
We were sitting at the table eating breakfast when suddenly one of the younger children (who had still been asleep when we started eating) came walking into the kitchen looking for a bowl, a spoon, and the milk from the refrigerator. My oldest daughter, Candace, said, “I’ll get it.” I replied, “Why don’t you let mommy or me get it. You just poured your milk, and if you don’t start eating right away, your cereal is going to get soggy.” “That’s okay,” she said, “I’ll do it. I don’t mind if my cereal gets soggy.”
Now I know for a fact that she hates soggy cereal, but in that moment, serving her younger sibling became more important to her than whether or not her cereal was crunchy or soggy. Immediately a voice in my mind asked, “Have you ever been willing to let your cereal get soggy in order to serve someone else?” Of course, in my mind I was not thinking of literal cereal, but of the many goals, dreams, ambitions, desires, hobbies, and self-serving interests that so often are the driving force behind our lives.
What about you? Have you ever been willing to set aside something that you really wanted in order to meet someone else’s need? Have you ever been willing to put some dream on hold because God led in a different direction? You may say, “But if I don’t do this right now, I will never have the chance to do it again!” That may be true. The moment might pass you by. The cereal may be soggy by the time you get back to it. But what an opportunity to prove your love!
The Apostle Paul urged the Corinthian Christians to prove the sincerity of their love in second Corinthians chapter eight. And then, to nail the point home with them, he said, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
In no way whatsoever do I intend to cheapen or trivialize the great sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross, but I do see a parallel. Jesus had all the riches of Heaven. He needed nothing. Yet for our sakes He became poor. True sacrifice is when a person is willing to set aside his own desires to meet someone else’s needs. True love is when a person is willing to give up something of value in order for someone else to gain something of great value.
Sadly, many of us often fail to follow the example of Christ in this area. We have our habits and our hobbies. We have our ambitions and our aspirations. We have our plans and our possessions. But sometimes the greatest proof of our love is just a bowl of soggy cereal.