Against the Tide

There are few things in this world as deceptive as an oatmeal raisin cookie.

If you’re not familiar with oatmeal raisin cookies, you are a fortunate person indeed. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against oatmeal. Oatmeal is great. In fact, oatmeal cookies are great. But raisins? No. Raisins are an accursed blight upon this world. A raisin is what happens when you take an innocent grape and suck all the life and goodness out of it.

Though you probably couldn’t tell, because I am so extremely subtle, I am not particularly fond of raisins.

The trouble with oatmeal raisin cookies, however, is not merely the fact that they are foul of taste. Many things in this world are unpleasant to the palate. But few hide their atrociously unappetizing flavor so efficiently as oatmeal raisin cookies. Simply put, oatmeal raisin cookies are ninjas. They are masters of disguise.

They look nearly identical to chocolate chip cookies.

This is of course unacceptable. Chocolate chip cookies are beautiful. They are one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon the children of man. For something so hideous as an oatmeal raisin cookie to be so deceptively similar in appearance to something so glorious as a chocolate chip cookie is clearly an abomination. Yet that is the way of the world. And so it is that many an innocent, unsuspecting soul has sought to partake of what seemed to be a chocolate chip cookie, only to find that what seemed to be a delectable and mouth-watering treat was in fact a nauseating excuse for a cookie.

In a way, I feel that this world is full of oatmeal raisin cookies. As we walk through life, we are surrounded by traps and snares; evil things that disguise themselves in attractive ways. Taking on the guise of pleasure, they bring us only pain; claiming to bring the “good life,” they slowly eat away at our souls. It can often feel like you’re navigating a minefield in life, and after making the wrong decision a few times and feeling it blow up in your face, the journey can start to feel pretty hopeless. I get it. I’ve been there. We all have. Life’s full of decisions, and we all make the wrong ones sometimes.

But in a world that is full of pain and heartache, we can be the ones that go against the tide. The sky may be dark, but when enough stars come to life, even those tiny pinpricks of light can be enough to make the darkness beautiful. Jesus Christ was the ultimate bright spot in a dark world. He, being in very nature God, took on a human life and became a servant for we who had rebelled against Him. He attracted thousands of followers who were drawn to this one sparkling light in the midst of their darkness. Now we are called to carry on His mission. We are commanded to be “salt and light” to the world around us. We are meant to be the chocolate chip cookies in a world full of oatmeal raisin.

It’s not an easy calling to fulfill. We live in the midst of a powerful current, like a swimmer caught in a riptide. Living as a beacon to others means swimming against that flow. It can be exhausting. At times, it can seem impossible. It’s tempting to follow the old saying and “go with the flow.” That’s what worldly wisdom would have us do. In the words of television writer Diane Frolov, “A person has three choices in life. You can swim against the tide and get exhausted, or you can tread water and let the tide sweep you away, or you can swim with the tide, and let it take you where it wants you to go.”

“A person has three choices in life. You can swim against the tide and get exhausted, or you can tread water and let the tide sweep you away, or you can swim with the tide, and let it take you where it wants you to go.”

The advice of those around us is to follow the crowd, let life take us where it will. But that path does not bring joy, either. When we allow ourselves to let go of purpose and follow the current around us, we quickly begin to feel empty. Hopelessness sets in. We grow tired of chasing pain disguised as pleasure, so we give up searching all together. We stop eating the cookies of life because we know most of them are oatmeal raisin. It’s a very different suffering; instead of the sharp pain of making the wrong decisions, we slowly suffocate from making no decisions. We were made for more than that. A life of “going with the flow” is hardly a life at all.

The great Christian writer G.K. Chesterton once observed, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

Perhaps that is why it is so easy to feel dead when we simply drift through life. When I look at the world around me, I see a lot of this kind of deadness. People simply follow the path society sets before them, like a train moving inexorably down the track. This path has no true purpose; no real adventure; no deeper meaning. It is trapped in its own forward motion. People deceive themselves with a false sense of “progress” that is only the meaningless drifting of a hopeless soul. It never fills you; it only empties your spirit.

But the plight of man is not hopeless. We were not made for this life. We were formed in the image of our Creator to be unique, creative people. We were made to live an adventure. We are called to push back, to fight on, to strive through. We are world-changers, truth-tellers, story-makers. We were born to go against the tide. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

When the tides of this world push and pull, we can stand strong for what is true and noble and right. We can be the firm bulwark that stands steadfast against the lies of mainstream culture. And we don’t need to do it alone; we stand united in our quest to live a revolutionary life. Together, we love instead of hating. We fight for justice. We live for peace. We find joy in the middle of sorrow, and we magnify the name of Jesus Christ throughout the world, so that every man and woman who sees us knows that we are something different. We are the People of the Cross, the redeemed and the rejoicing, sinners made saints, and we are on a mission.

So let us stand together, brothers and sisters. On a plate of oatmeal raisin cookies…

We will be the chocolate chips.

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