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  • Baptist Beacon

Perplexingly paradoxical problems (How sweet they are!)

FENTON, MI – Several years ago Sabrina and I frequented a particular restaurant that served a variety of foods at a reasonable price. The service was good, but the food was good enough to make you slap your grandma.

One day the waiter, who had come to know us by our first names, told us about a brand new dessert item and suggested that we try it. On most of our dining occasions, by the time we got to the dessert portion of our meal there was no room for anything, especially dessert. But this particular time the dessert that was offered, and the unusual nature of this treat captured the attention of our curious little taste buds. The dessert that our waiter offered was fried ice cream. Just the thought of how frying ice cream could take place made you want to place the order.

How would it keep from melting? What would it taste like or for that matter what would it look like? How could two seemingly opposing tastes, textures and states of being be brought together to produce anything that tasted good or for that matter was edible? It was almost incredulous to me that one could fry that which was to be an ice cold dessert, and it remain frozen and maintain it’s cold, smooth and creamy texture. Would modern miracles never cease?

When our waiter did deliver our confectioner's crazy cold creation, it was a culinary delight. The combination of a hot flaky crust encasing a frozen center of vanilla ice cream was a gastronomical delight that sent my salivary senses into extreme agitation. In other words, I slobbered all over myself it was so good. The improbable and seemingly opposing tastes and textures had been combined to provide a most memorable dining delight. The same sort of culinary combination is accomplished with the “sweet and sour” sauces used in Chinese food.

Logic and experience would tell us that these opposing tastes and textures should not get together but the fact of the matter is that they do. I have found these diverse combinations that produce unexpectedly wonderful blends are not unique to the world of foods. These perplexing paradoxes are found in our life experiences as well.

Sabrina and I have experienced these paradoxical happenings on more than one occasion. I remember well when we moved our eldest son and his wife many hundreds of miles away in order for them to attend seminary. We were so excited and thrilled for them and their new adventure, but at the same time we were saddened and even grieved at the loss we sensed. We were fully aware that because they had been called into the ministry that the possibility of us living in the same area with them in the future was very unlikely. We knew that this meant that we would be with them on very rare occasions and with any “future” grandchildren. They now have three daughters in this foreign land.

This happened again when my youngest son and his wife moved to Colorado and took our grandgirls with him. I believe it should be a law that our children must get parental permission to move grandchildren more than 20 miles away! If you are a parent or know what it is like to be separated from the ones you love then you understand the difficulty of such an event, yet at the same time this new life in a different place is exciting and fulfilling. How can these two blend to create a wonderful life experience? How can the joy of seeing your children step out into life’s great adventure mingle together with the grief of loss? Does the one outweigh the other and thus make it just bearable?

No! The fact is that God takes the joy and the sadness, and combines them to create a brand new life experience that will be used to make us more like Him and honor His wisdom. He mixes the good and the bad, the joyful and sorrowful, the sweet and the sour, and makes something wonderful and new. Yes, it goes beyond our logic and the experiences of our past. It really doesn’t make sense, but God somehow synthesizes it for our good and His glory.

If you have not already encountered God’s special way of combining life’s experiences, you will. Just relax and enjoy the meal. The fried ice cream is a tasty treat indeed. Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I now know, that includes fried ice cream.



Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.


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