A Toffee Miracle

by Mary

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Here’s the truth …

“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering” (Isaiah 48:10 NLT).

Christmas is upon us again!  I found myself the other day in the kitchen producing cookies, cake balls, haystacks, chocolate pretzels, and other confections that I normally wouldn’t take the time to create all at once at any other time of the year!  Watching me break my annual batch of toffee into pieces, my daughter asked why I only make that “yummy goodness” for her during the holiday season.  The short answer is because I give much of it away as gifts--it’s an easy way to show love to a large number of people through a small sack of toffee.  But the long answer has everything to do with it being a painstaking process that involves some strategic planning to pull it off. You need just the right ingredients, a watchful eye on the stovetop, and your toppings and sheet pans prepared on the counter. Once that toffee is ready, it’s ready!

Did you know that the basic ingredients in a good old batch of toffee are simply butter, margarine, sugar, water, and vanilla?  Whenever people look into the sauce pan with the first four items haphazardly piled on top of each other, they seem very skeptical that anything resembling a Heath Bar will ever emerge. And isn’t it interesting that you need one stick each of butter and margarine and that you are warned not to make substitutions?  I rarely have margarine in the house and once tried to pull off toffee with two sticks of butter instead. Didn’t work!  When put under pressure and boiled all together, the unique characteristics in each ingredient combine to make a sticky, foamy, caramelized substance that bubbles and crackles and produces dark brown veins throughout. When the veins appear, the new creation emerges like a butterfly from a cocoon!  Only the correct proportions of the correct ingredients and just the right amount of heat will make that miracle happen. It is at that precise moment that the vanilla gets added before the mixture can be poured onto the sheet pan for cooling.

A bunch of simple items dumped into a pan in a soft heap may seem of no use to a toffee lover, but when subjected to fire and given the chance to blend together into a cool chemistry experiment, the ingredients transform into something so different in color and texture that a brand-new creation appears altogether!

Even more, once the toffee is poured out into a sheet pan and given a chance to harden, it becomes much stronger than the initial soft heap of the separate ingredients in the pan at the beginning. It takes a knife and lots of strength to break the solid toffee into pieces; and it is so strong that it can even withstand the added melted chocolate and pretzels that I put on top of it!  It certainly wasn’t able to handle that prior to and even immediately after all the heat was applied. 

WE are just like toffee!  God uses the entirety of our lives to make us useful for Him, but we certainly aren’t able to do the things He wants us to do in our current state.  We are just a bunch of simple ingredients in a sauce pan. He allows us to undergo some drama at times to mold us into something different.  Sure, we become weakened from the experience at first, like the bubbly, gooey mess that gets created when heat and pressure build.  But eventually, when we have a cooling period and an ability to rest, we emerge much stronger than we ever could have been if we had stayed a stick of butter and a cup of sugar!

Similarly, God knew what He was doing when he allowed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to step into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).  He most certainly was pointing people, like the king, towards Himself by showing His power; but also He was giving the three survivors a chance to grow like they would never have been able to otherwise.  They didn’t want to bow to the gold statue but only wanted to honor God on bended knees. They took a stand; and God showed them that when you take a stand for Him, He sees and responds.

Can you imagine the next time they found themselves in a pickle? I bet if they were even a bit skeptical before the furnace incident, they certainly wouldn’t be the next time they faced a challenge. The Bible indeed tells us that the trio told King Nebuchadnezzar, “the God whom we serve is able to save us…. But even if he doesn’t … we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18 NLT). They sounded like they had faith, but they left room for God not to save them.  In the future, I bet they had zero doubt that God would appear the next time they faced a trial! They were forever changed. No one could go through something like that and not be refined. Sometimes, affliction has to happen for us to learn and grow: “not as silver is refined. Rather … in the furnace of suffering” (Isaiah 48:10 NLT).

My husband did not get a job he was hoping for, I left my own job and had to have multiple, unrelated surgeries, and we switched churches--all this year!  Although each incident proved painful in the heat of it, looking back on our year, we have been transformed. Ironically, that has been the theme this year of our new church—Transformed 2018.  The goal was to make certain that the teaching and guidance helped church members to be different in December than they were 11 months earlier in January. Mission accomplished!  We once were butter and margarine and water and sugar, but now we are quite different….

Hopefully you are inspired to whip up a batch of your own toffee (see the post for How to Make Toffee). Try not to be skeptical when you put those ingredients in the pan. They will combine to create a crunchy, tasty, pleasing dessert. But don’t forget to add the heat!

 … and that’s the truth as I know it!

Have a great day!

Mary