When Safe Means Sorry

My earliest cooking experience resulted in pancakes that were three and a half inches in diameter and as hard as a rock. I don’t want to tell you about that time.

My next cooking experience was bound to be better. At least I convinced my dad that it would be. It turned out to be one of the most memorable evenings our family talks about.

My mom was out (probably grocery shopping for supper), and my dad was working upstairs on the addition he was adding on to our home.

I climbed the wooden stairs and stuck my head through the opening. There was my dad, framing in the rooms with the two Bible college students he had hired to help him.

I went over and asked him if I could please make muffins for supper. I convinced him that yes, I knew how to follow the recipe (I had watched Mom do it lots of times), and no, I wouldn’t burn the house down. With permission secured, I eagerly returned to the kitchen to begin my masterpiece.

I don’t remember most of the ingredients in those bran muffins, but two stand out in my memory.

First, there was the “4 c bran.” It was easy to figure out that “c” stood for “cups.” Now, to find the bran. I found an unlabeled plastic bag from the co-op, and I was almost positive this was bran—like 98 percent sure.

I deliberated for a moment. Should I take the risk?

Nah, I decided to err on the side of caution. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

I moved on without the bran.

A few ingredients later, I came to “2 T oil.” I knew where the oil was. But what did the “T” stand for? Tablespoons or teaspoons?

Once again, I decided it would be better to be safe than sorry. I pressed on—without the bran and without the oil.

My mom returned home while the muffins were in the oven. As I remember, while she hurried to get supper on, she commended me for trying the muffins. She also confirmed that yes, that unmarked bag was the bran, and “T” did stand for tablespoon.

As fate would have it, my dad invited his construction helpers to join us for supper. When my mom served the muffins—the small, flat muffins without any bran or any oil—she was careful to give credit to whom credit was due!

But the muffins aren’t the only reason my family remembers that evening.

A few bites into one of my muffins, one of the college guys looked across the kitchen to the plywood crate near the door where our dog was lying.

You could hear the uneasiness in his voice. “Mr. Bass, is your dog…okay?”

“Sure she is.” My dad didn’t turn from his piece of chicken to see what he was talking about.

A few minutes later, “Umm…Mr. Bass, are you sure your dog is okay?”

Actually, she was having puppies. (And if you’ve never seen the entrance of puppies into this world, well, it might be a bit unsettling for you. Especially when you’re choking down hard, flat, branless bran muffins at the same time.)

The good outcome from that evening (besides five new puppies) was that I learned that bran is essential to bran muffins. And I learned that sometimes being safe makes us sorry.

Faith in the Christian life is what bran is to bran muffins. It is the Christian life.

It is real.

It is substantive.

It is essential.

But here’s the catch. It’s not always safe.

Sometimes, when faced with a faith-choice, I would rather be safe than sorry. If I can’t fully see the outcome, if the outcome looks potentially uncomfortable or scary, I would rather defer the decision.

Sometimes walking by faith is exhilarating. Sometimes it’s humbling.

Sometimes a leap of faith is exciting. Sometimes it’s unsettling.

Sometimes a decision of faith is obvious. Sometimes it requires trust that God is moving in ways I cannot see and that He is leading me down paths that appear different than I expected.

But in whatever case we find ourselves needing to exercise faith, it’s worth the risk.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.—Hebrews 11:1, 6

For we walk by faith, not by sight—2 Corinthians 5:7

We all come to points when we’d rather be safe than sorry. But sometimes safe is sorry.

Ask those two Bible college students.