I loved JELL-O as a young child. We didn’t have much money, so treats were a rarity. Consequently, JELL-O became an affordable luxury we looked forward to. I liked cherry flavor the best, but lime and raspberry were close seconds. I didn’t much care for lemon flavor, but strawberry was OK.
One day my mother taught me how to make JELL-O. She showed me how to measure two cups of water from the faucet and pour it into a pot that we put on the stove. We turned the burner on under the pot and waited for the water to boil. In order for the JELL-O mix to properly dissolve, the water couldn’t just be hot; it actually had to boil.
It always seemed to take forever for the water to boil. That is when my mother taught me the old saying “A watched pot never boils.” It really seemed true to me. Sometimes I would stand on a chair and watch the water in the pot as little tiny bubbles would form along the edges. Nothing seemed to happen, and then out of nowhere—usually when I looked away for just a moment—it started to boil.
We then poured the boiling water into a pan of whatever shape we wanted, where we would then stir in the JELL-O mix until it dissolved and then add a couple of cups of cold water. We then put it into the refrigerator to cool, where its very nature was changed from a runny liquid without form into a glistening, malleable yet resilient shape of the mold we had chosen. Sometimes we would even mix in some fruit, but regardless of the variations, the transformation was always fascinating. I looked forward to helping my mom make JELL-O almost as much as eating it.
Sometimes, as I watch others start to turn to Christ to solve their problems, I am reminded of these childhood experiences in my mother’s kitchen making JELL-O. All too often, I see individuals give up before their conversion occurs. On other occasions, I watch and wonder when this individual will finally get a clue, and just when I think it may never happen, he changes, just like a struggling caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly.
I empathize with those who are frustrated because they feel that they are trying to turn to God, but nothing seems to happen. I can read the struggle in their faces. They seem to be saying, “God promises that if we seek, we will find Him; yet nothing seems to change. It seems to work for others, then why not for me? Maybe I’m just worthless, and not one who He has chosen to save? Why should I even try? Nothing ever works out anyway.” These are damnable thoughts.
God wants to save all of us. We are all His children. He loves each of us. Our loving Heavenly Father wants to convert all of us into beings who can experience ultimate joy. Don’t give up and throw the hot water out of the pot just before it boils. It does work. But it may require more than you currently realize. It is well worth the effort, though. God will not let any of your anguish go to waste. Instead, he will raise you up and make something strong yet beautiful out of every tear you shed. So, hang in there.
God wants to make JELL-O, and not lukewarm water, which the Lord spews out of his mouth. (Revelations 3:15-16). Too often we give up when we start to feel the heat. It is human nature to delay our conversion by avoiding the uncomfortable heat of facing our sins, character flaws, and the emotional injuries from our childhood that often form the foundation of our wrongdoing. Instead, many of us just dabble in religion. We want the promised blessings, but we do not want to make a complete commitment. It is as if we put our water pot on low heat.
Consequently, we suffer through life, dealing with its ups and downs without God’s full help and without truly being converted. We still react to the same old buttons that people push, and, in actuality, nothing really changes that much. Maybe, over time, there will be enough accumulated effect of the simmering heat that the water may eventually boil, but usually not, and even if it does, we miss out on a lot of blessings in the meantime.
I have found that if we want water to boil, it is much better to turn the heat on the stove all the way up to its highest setting. The key to conversion is opening up and completely submitting to God. How much we suffer, how hard we work, or how long we struggle does not make a big difference. The power of conversion lies with God, not ourselves.
However, we hold the key to unlock God’s power. He will immerse us in his love and power only to the extent that we are willing to accept it. God describes His power as a refining fire that burns away all our impurities. (Isaiah 48:10). We must be willing to submit and bear enough heat that we can be converted. We need to seek Him with enough intensity and purpose that the help he gives us to change will actually stick and not just be a passing phase. God realizes that, for many of us, it is “easy come, easy go.”
Once the conditions are right and we are really willing to let God have his way with us, He will then change our nature, just as liquid water converts to steam, and a hot JELL-O solution solidifies into the shape of the mold we select. God will transform us into the person He wants us to become, the very best version of ourselves.
Because the key to conversion is our willingness to submit to God, not how long we suffer, it makes more sense to let go and submit to God’s will immediately instead of prolonging the process.
I do feel it is important to point out, however, that even though our nature may not change all at once, if we look for it, we can see God’s influence in our life, giving us hope and encouragement along the way. I can personally testify to the veracity of the Savior’s promise: “Seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you; for everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matt 7:7–8).
Faith is the key. Even if we only have enough faith to desire to believe, that is enough to start, and the Lord will do the rest if we let Him. If we open up and give even just a speck of space in our heart to God, even if it is as small as a mustard seed, God will begin to expand our soul and fill us with his love. (Matthew 17:20). But we must be willing to make room for him in our heart as he fills us with his love. This requires us to let go of other things in our heart that compete with Him. In order for us to be completely converted, we must develop enough faith that eventually, we are willing to sacrifice everything. God is patient and will help us develop this faith over time if we let Him.
God is a jealous god not because He needs our adoration, but because He knows that if we love anything more than Him, He cannot fully convert us into a being capable of receiving all that He has. Consequently, we must face our core emotional issues in order to give them over to God. This usually is terrifying. In fact, facing our core emotional fears and turning them over to God is the boiling or conversion point we need to reach. We resist doing this because of the pain these memories evoke. We doubt that God will actually heal our soul and remove the pain. We let fear control us because we are unsure of the outcome and what we will turn into afterward.
However, when truly dealing in faith, we don’t have a preconceived outcome in mind. Instead, we simply decide to trust in God and do what we know is right, regardless of the outcome. Like the watched pot that never boils, sometimes we must learn to wait in faith for the promise of the Father.
In ancient times, God required his people to offer their choicest animal to Him as a sacrifice. The sacrifice consisted of killing and then burning on an altar this animal that was dear to them. Today, God asks us to offer to Him a broken heart and a contrite spirit. (Psalms 51:17). To accomplish this, we need to sacrifice on God’s alter our emotional issues that are as dear to us as the unblemished animals were to God’s ancient people. We need to identify the emotional issues that we cater to more than to the will of God, then kill them and ask the Lord to completely obliterate them and convert their very nature, just as fire destroys and converts the nature of what is burned to ash and smoke. As we make room for Him in our heart, He fills us with His love, healing our soul and casting out our fears. This is the way God heals us of the emotional black holes that pull us down.
If we are really willing to let go and completely destroy those things that hold us back from God, He will then convert our very nature, and we will discover our true self, liberated from all that holds us down. Abraham is a great example. Even though Abraham had seen and spoken with God on more than one occasion, he still had issues that he needed to deal with in order to be fully converted into the “Father of the Faithful,” the being God wanted him to become.
When Abraham was younger, his father tried to sacrifice him to a pagan god, and he escaped through the intervention of God. When Abraham was over a hundred years old, God asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to God. For decades, God worked with and prepared Abraham for this great test, which God knew he would pass. I believe Abraham needed to deal with the emotional scars from his youth, so this great test was very personal to Abraham. When Abraham was ready, God asked him to face those issues. Through faith and trusting in God, Abraham attempted to sacrifice his own son, at which point an angel stopped him.
Abraham learned something about himself that day. I believe he learned to forgive his own father for his evil attempt to sacrifice Abraham years before. Through this process, God was able to heal Abraham of the lingering emotional pains he still had not fully resolved. Abraham learned that he really loved and trusted God with all his heart. Abraham was then better able to understand and internalize God’s sacrifice of His own son because of His great love for each of us.
In order for us to truly repent and be converted, we must learn how to forgive those who have offended us. We need to internalize the reality of the infinite scope of the atonement. If we fail to forgive others, it is as if we deny God’s atonement. It reflects our own faulty opinion that Christ’s atonement is not infinite, but limited. If it is limited, then our own salvation is at risk. Hence, we still need to develop more faith so that God can convert and save us. As we accept Christ, the love he gives us empowers us to forgive. Consequently, love and faith are intertwined and build each other.
Once we totally submit to God, we reach our boiling point, and our nature begins to change. God then gives us his spirit, and just like the JELL-O mix, it makes us sweeter and adds more flavor to our life. He takes us out of the heat and gives us time for our conversion to set.
The knowledge that God accepts us brings peace to our soul and builds our faith, empowering us to endure life’s challenges. Our very nature changes. We are no longer like a liquid with no subtance, flowing from one thing to the next. God can then form us into whatever shape or thing He wants us to be.
What a wonderful blessing it is to know that God promises to convert us into His child to be a joint heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17). For our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:21).
I can hardly wait.