The Voice in the Oatmeal


By: Barbara Colbert-Brooks

One day, while rushing to a certain destination, I was thinking about the lost art of “listening.” There was even a time when conversations were reciprocal and designed to reach a conclusion, understanding, or establish a rapport between the participants. However, in today’s world of rapid everything, even the practice of conversing has digressed into an exercise in futility. We tend to miss the point of really listening, not only to one another but even to what is whispered into our spiritual subconscious. I even included myself, ignoring the Voice that woke me up that morning two hours before I chose to listen. So what brought all this on? 

A few weeks ago, my husband, a legend in his own time, said to me that he had experienced a rough yet profound morning. Even though he didn’t say, I knew it was safe to assume that the “rough” morning was more than likely a continuation of a restless night. He said he’d had an issue that needed to be dealt with, but instead, he’d unsuccessfully tried to ignore it for the last several weeks. Then, while preparing his daily bowl of oatmeal, and because he was mentally distracted by this little issue that was nagging at his conscience when he put the oatmeal in the microwave, he turned the heat way up higher than it should have been. Then, all the while the oatmeal was dangerously boiling in the microwave, he was wrestling with the small Voice, trying to compel a “cease and desist” that just wasn’t yielding nor submitting. He admitted to me that the Voice was instructing him to do something that he flat out did not want to do, even though he knew he would have to do it sooner rather than later, whether he liked it or not. Engrossed in these mental gymnastics, he forgot about the oatmeal and engaged in a full-fledged wrestling match with the Voice.

Finally, at the “ding!” of the microwave, absent pot holder or towel, he reached in to retrieve the bowl. Understandably so, it was blistering hot, and upon picking it up, he instantly dropped it. In a crazy attempt to “catch” the bowl with his leg, it bounced off his thigh and crashed to the floor, splattering most of his body and bathing the entire kitchen with a hot mess of steaming slimy oatmeal. The Shitszu, who had perched just a few feet away intently watching this event, delightfully took advantage of the oatmeal fiasco and started lapping up the creamy lumps, apparently undeterred by the fact that they were still smoking hot. (At this point of the story, I felt it noteworthy to interject that at least the dog had a healthy breakfast, which also went ignored by my husband as he proceeded with his story). He then provided a graphic description of the festering oatmeal singe on his leg, still contemplating, though hours later, whether or not he should go to local Urgent Care. Finally, much to my relief, he concluded his story by assuring me that he had sufficiently cleaned up the Quaker Oats catastrophe. Then while nursing his stinging thigh, he’d come to a profound spiritual revelation.

The Voice had been quiet, gentle, yet provocative and familiar. It had been speaking to him for weeks. He sorely admitted that although he knew better than to ignore it, he’d still yielded to his own stubborn willfulness. He reluctantly acknowledged that what prompted the morning debacle was his blatant disregard for the Voice of God. God being God, he chose a rather unconventional yet most effective method to get his attention. He had become stuck in his own stubborn ways, and God decided to come down to his level. He’d forgotten that the buck really didn’t stop with him after all, and the last thing you want to do is provoke the Lord. With a sigh of resignation, he said that he remembered hearing that “The Lord moves in mysterious ways…” and he was a living witness that He shall not be ignored.  

My spirit smiles when I recall my husband’s experience. I would venture to say that if God is trying to tell us something, we’d better not just go about doing our own business and pooh-pooh His Voice. History tells us that God has spoken through a burning bush, the winds and the waves, and even the jawbone of an ass. God can do whatever he chooses, and when it comes to getting our attention, the tangible and the intangible are all at His divine disposal. Even something as mundanely ordinary as a bowl of oatmeal. 

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