Baked Alaska is one of those desserts that seems like it will end in disaster.
This dessert involves covering a core of ice cream and cake with meringue and baking it at 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. Really.
Who puts ice cream in a hot oven anyway?
Surely it will result in a melted mess, and you’ll be spending the next hour resentfully scrubbing out your oven.
But Baked Alaska will surprise and amaze you.
When you take this dessert out of the oven after a few minutes, you find that the meringue has cooked and slightly browned, but the ice cream underneath it is still cold and has retained its firm shape. The ice cream inside the “igloo” has remained untouched by the intense heat.
It seems miraculous, because you’d think that ice cream would melt when it came anywhere near temperatures that high. It’s not actually a miracle, however, but rather a clever application of physics. The dessert was invented in the 1800s by American physicist Benjamin Thompson, who was investigating the insulating properties of whipped egg whites.
If you want a genuine example of miraculous protection from a hot oven, you need to go the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.
If you were paying attention during physics class in high school, you’ll know that there are certain laws that the natural world abides by.
The Law of Gravity, for instance. Legend has it that this principle was discovered by a young Isaac Newton when he was hit on the head by an apple which fell from the tree he was sitting under.
Or the Law of Inertia, which states that an object at rest or in motion will continue in that state unless acted upon by an external force. So when I’m sitting in my easy chair and don’t want to get up to do any housework, I’m not being lazy. I’m simply obeying the law of inertia.
I recently heard a wag rephrase Newton’s Third Law of Motion (“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”). He dubbed it the Law of Emotion: for every male action there is a female overreaction!
Then there’s the Law of Conservation of Energy, which says that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but can be altered from one form to another. For instance, our bodies transform the chemical energy in food into kinetic energy to help us move around.
I think sin has a principle attached to it which is similar to the Law of Conservation of Energy.
Sin can’t just disappear. It has to be dealt with in some way.
But it can be transformed.
As author Dorothy Sayers said, “There is only one real law—the law of the universe. It may be fulfilled either by way of judgement or by the way of grace, but it must be fulfilled one way or the other.”
Multi-tasking has been described as the art of messing up several things at once.
Like trying to apply makeup and drive on the freeway at the same time. Or using power tools while texting.
Much of the time when we try to do several things at once, we wind up doing each of them poorly.
God, on the other hand, is a master at multi-tasking, and He does everything perfectly.
When we think God is doing one thing in our lives, He’s actually doing many things at once. And much of what God is accomplishing is completely off our radar screens.
As theologian John Piper says, “In EVERY situation and EVERY circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.” And, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them.” (I invite you to read Piper’s excellent post on this topic.)
It’s a truism that it’s easier to destroy than to create.
I saw this in action recently in my own neighbourhood.
A two-storey house had been damaged internally by fire, although it looked salvageable from the outside. Nonetheless, the owners and insurers agreed that it should be demolished and a new house built in its stead.
I imagine the original house had taken months to build. It probably involved scores of people in its construction: contractors, carpenters, bricklayers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, and the like.
But it only took one man with one large backhoe a few hours to raze that building to the ground.
It was shocking how quickly the structure was destroyed. What could have lasted for decades was levelled in the space of a morning.
A cautionary tale, don’t you think?
If we’re not careful, we can see the same thing happen in our own lives.
These flowers are among those from which we can easily extract essential oils. These substances can then be used in products ranging from perfumes to scented soaps. If you love the smell of these flowers, you have all manner of ways to experience the scent. You can do so directly, by smelling the flower, or secondhand, as it were, through items made from their oils.
But some flowers don’t produce enough usable essential oils.
My favourite floral scent, lilac, is one of them.
Unfortunately for me, the aromatic compounds in lilacs are nearly impossible to acquire. Trying to extract the fragrance through steam distillation can end up destroying the scent profile. And the tiny amount of essential oils that may result are so expensive to produce that it’s not economically worthwhile to bother.
The end result is that you can’t buy true lilac essential oil. Perfumers may be able to mimic the scent of lilacs through synthesis, but the resulting fragrance hasn’t been distilled solely from the actual flower itself; it’s merely an approximation, a blend of other floral notes. No chemist can authentically capture the unique scent of the lilac.
If you want to experience the true fragrance of lilacs, there’s only one way to do it. You have to experience it “live,” by smelling an actual cluster of flowers.
Likewise, if we want to experience Jesus, it has to be “live.”
Weeding the garden, like forgiving, is a task that’s never-ending.
We can’t simply say, “I weeded last week, so I’m done now. I won’t need to weed for the rest of the season.”
Every gardener know that the weeds will keep cropping up. The job of weeding is one that lasts for as long as you have a garden.
So it is with forgiving those who have offended or hurt us. Forgiving is not optional for believers: we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
But sometimes we think that it’s a “one-and-done” effort. We grudgingly forgive someone once, and assume we’re done with it.
Inevitably, though, we learn that it doesn’t work that way. The next week, we might ruminate about what they did to us and get mad all over again. We find there’s still a root of bitterness in our heart, and we have to forgive them once more.
Like weeding, the duty to forgive is ongoing. It may require more “rinse and repeat” cycles than you might imagine.