Did Anyone Actually Make the Brownies?

We were all sitting in the break room at work the other day.  On the counter under the microwave was a stack of baked goods. There were several decent choices, but the crown jewel was a plate of inch thick chocolate brownies. A sign was hanging behind the baked goods—“$1 each, proceeds to help Sue (medical bills). Please help, Nick-Store Manager.” One guy on my crew, Steve, (not a good worker but charming and generally well-liked) said, “I want a brownie.” He walked over and grabbed a brownie. We all waited for him to drop a dollar in the box, but he just sat back down and started eating the brownie. When I asked why he didn’t pay, he looked at me like I was an idiot. “Nick didn’t make those brownies.“

I had no idea what he meant. I just stared at him. He laughed gently as he took another bite. “The brownies just appeared over the weekend.” I gaped. “No one made the brownies. They amalgamated out of a mixture of dust, moisture in the air, and chocolatey goodness. Then, someone with a bleeding heart came along, saw an opportunity, wrote the note and is using the situation for his own twisted cause. I know the truth.” Another bite of the brownie. I blurted, “What exactly is chocolatey goodness?” He sighed, and mumbled something about having to explain everything to "some people" as he covered the brownies. “I guess I’m the only that will enjoy the brownies,” he said as he left the room.  Steve’s schtick was so ridiculous it almost made me laugh. I mean, Nick’s name was on the sign. Still, Steve was so bold it was unnerving.

The next day I was finishing a project right before break time and got to the break room late. As I walked in, I saw Steve eating another brownie and explaining “chocolatey goodness” to the guys. Two of the guys on my crew laughed and headed over to the counter. One said, “I don’t really care about how the brownies got here. I just want to eat ‘em.“ The plate of brownies got a little smaller. Me and Dave were both squirming. I couldn’t believe the guys were eating all the brownies without paying…Nick’s note was right there…Steve glanced at me and smiled. “Still think Nick made the brownies?” I didn’t answer.

The next day I headed to work with a sick feeling in my stomach. I really did want a brownie. They looked great. I knew I could just pay for one, but then Steve would laugh, and well…maybe he was right. He seemed so sure. Maybe the brownies had just amalgamated. I mean, I had never seen brownies just come into being, but, well I wasn’t a baker. It had been a long weekend. The extra dust and wind from the air conditioning mixed with the chocolatey goodness (whatever that was) could have caused brownies randomly to appear in neat stacks on the decorative plate. Steve didn’t wait for break time. He joined me as I stocked shelves. “You eating a brownie tonight?” I squirmed, “I don’t know. The note says…” He cut me off. “I told you that note was a fake. Honestly, I don’t even think Nick exists. I think there are some department heads that try to scare us by talking about Nick, but I never see him.” I muttered incoherently. He continued , “When was the last time you saw Nick?” I totally blanked. “Well, we work at night, after hours. We don’t see anyone.” He smirked. “Pretty convenient. They wield Nick like a hammer. Look, if Nick really existed, and he made the brownies, then of course he could decide to sell them to help what’s-her-name. But if Nick is a figment of the department heads’ collective imaginations, and the brownies did randomly amalgamate, you’re going to feel really dumb when they are all gone and you never ate one.” I felt my resistance flow out like water down a storm drain.

 At break time I didn’t waste any time. I just walked over, grabbed a brownie and flopped into my usual chair. Steve and the others joined me (in both brownies and chairs). Dave shot me a sad look as he opened his customary box of Cracker Jacks he had brought from home. He mouthed “Don’t do it.” I felt a kind of pity for him. Poor guy, he still thought Nick existed and had made the brownies. It was so obvious to me that they had randomly amalgamated. The brownie was fantastic. Since no one had made them, no one could tell us what to do with them. I marveled at my former naiveté.

Then, Nick walked in. I choked on my brownie. He smiled and said, “Hey, glad to see you guys enjoying my brownies. I had to work late tonight and was hoping to snag a pick-me-up.” The brownie was seriously clogged in my throat. Nick walked over to the little money box, picked it up, and slipped in a single. He stopped, shook the box, and then opened it. It was, of course, empty except for his dollar bill. He looked at us with surprise. “Guys, what’s going on?” We looked at Steve. He laughed, and walked out of the room. “I was going to quit tonight, anyway” he tossed back casually over his shoulder. I finally spit the piece of brownie into a napkin since my traitorous throat wouldn’t swallow it. Nick looked at me for an explanation. I froze. He continued to stare. Finally, I managed, “Steve told us you were just made up by the department heads, and he explained how the brownies had amalgamated from dust and chocolatey goodness…” my words began to flow like water from a hydrant “…he told us that we were idiots if we let those perfectly good brownies be used to manipulate us. We should take them. No one made them, so we could just eat them.” Nick cut me off by a raised hand, “I left a note. I made the brownies for a specific purpose.” “Steve said it was a fake.” I felt like a fool. I was a fool. I glanced at Dave. He was crestfallen. He had tried to warn me. Suddenly I realized the stupidity of the whole thing. Of course Nick existed. I had seen him at store meetings before. Plus, brownies don’t just come from nowhere. Neither do cookies or doughnuts. The thing is, I had just wanted free brownies so badly that I let myself be distracted from the fact that they belonged to someone, and he had the right to decide what to do with them. My racing thoughts had briefly distracted me, but I snapped back to the moment as I heard Nick’s voice. It had a hard edge to it. “Guys, clean out your lockers. You are done here.” I was getting fired over a brownie. I couldn’t believe it. I had a great job with a strong company, and I blew it over a brownie. A long and productive career, over a piece of dessert. There was no comparison…but I had done it…for a “free” brownie.

 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.                                                                     Romans 1:18-25



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