Before They Hatch? (Another Serving of Egg Wisdom)

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Eggs tend to get mixed into just about everything: cakes, cookies, and pies; quiches, puddings, and soufflés; meatloaf and meatballs; and even protein shakes.

And of course, the biggest egg mashups occur at breakfast (or brunch), when various ingredients are mixed to create an omelette. Most people think of these as a simple blend of eggs and milk (or a little cream), salt and pepper, and maybe some shredded cheese. But when the omelette gets fancy, and the eggs go cavorting with onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and other ingredients, cooks and restaurants love to call the resultant concoction a Spanish omelette. Sorry, but this, however, is incorrect.

Perhaps these confused cooks are simply paying homage to the dish that inspired this culinary creation, but more likely they’ve mixed up two similar but distinct egg dishes. What’s actually being served by these cooks is a Western-style or Mexican omelette. We write this with a good bit of authority, and can safely state that a true Spanish omelette resembles a quiche and has potatoes baked inside of it. It’s called a Tortilla Española. To further the confusion, in the U.S. a “tortilla” is a piece of Mexican flat bread used to wrap meats, cheese, and veggies.

A Spanish omelette.

In the same way we love to mash, mix, and blend our eggs — as well as our egg recipes — many of us have a habit of mashing, mixing and blending famous expressions or figures of speech. These “word omelettes” are called malaphors.

A malaphor is a mashup of two idioms, which results when someone confuses two similar figures of speech. The resultant expression usually makes no sense at all. For instance, we once overheard an old friend describing the good fortune of one of his coworkers, by commenting “He came out smelling like a bandit.” Hm. Is that good or bad? We’re not sure if bandits bathe or even bother with deodorant. But we’re reasonably certain our friend had mixed two similar expressions, intending to say his coworker either “came out smelling like a rose” or “made out like a bandit.”

Speaking of mixing up eggs and egg recipes, here’s a mixing of two well-known egg idioms. “Don’t count your eggs before they hatch.” This is an omelette — er, malaphor — blending two eggs-pressions! One we discussed yesterday, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.” The other is “Don’t count your chickens….” But unlike many malaphors, this one is used frequently (if erroneously) and it still makes perfect sense.

Have you ever seen a bird protecting its nest? Each time the momma bird has to briefly fly away, upon returning, she appears to be examining and counting her eggs. If one’s missing the mother will put up a squawk. Partly because she has potentially lost a baby bird, but also because … well, that’s generally the sound birds make.

One, two, three! One, two, three!
One, two, three! One, two, three! One, two, three!

But it’s a sad fact of life: not all those eggs are guaranteed to hatch! Having seven eggs is no guarantee of getting seven baby birds. Likewise, having a job offer is no guarantee you’ll be able to pay the bills at the end of the month. So don’t stop sending out resumes and going on job interviews.

And if you get a letter from Publisher’s Clearing House stating you’ve potentially won some big prizes, don’t run out to spend the money until it’s safely in the bank! In fact, wait till the check has cleared! Because in life, where people and institutions are concerned, you cannot “count” on something — and depend upon it — until it comes to pass. The same can be said of all our intricate planning, also, because the future is uncertain.

It’s totally human, of course, to be “hatching a scheme” at any given moment, whether it’s in the pursuit of a goal or a dream, or in trying to achieve great things in a business, a ministry, or an avocation. But as the great poet Robert Burns once wrote, the best “laid” plans of mice and men often fail.

So we should never count our eggs before they hatch. But what happens when we do count on something and it falls through? Well, instead of benefitting from something that takes flight, we’ve just (as the saying goes) laid an egg! (Wow, it’s really hard to get away from the egg analogy.)

Sigh! Isn’t there anything in life we can count on?

When it comes to Spiritual matters, it’s okay to count on God’s blessings and promises. In fact, our Heavenly Father wants us to count each and every one of these “eggs” as though they’ve already hatched, taken flight, and even flown the coop!

God wants us to have faith (complete trust) in Him, His Word, His promises, and His ability to answer prayer. “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].” (Hebrews 11:1 AMP) Faith, is the spiritual, supernatural, God-approved version of counting your chickens BEFORE they hatch!

When it comes to prayer and God’s promises, our Heavenly Father wants us to view life with our “spiritual eyes” seeing by faith and counting on the results and benefits (our spiritual eggs) before such things come to fruition (hatch). Faith is having confidence in God to deliver what He’s promised, no matter how long the process takes, or how difficult the situation.

Things may look (or sound) pretty bad, according to our human senses, but the Apostle Paul admonishes all believers to “walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV)

Spiritual mumbo-jumbo? Hardly. Even motivational experts, speaking to corporate employees in regards to success, support the ideas behind this ancient Biblical principle. Writers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson state, “One of the secrets to success is to start acting like a success before you are one.” (Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living Your Dreams, p. 38)

The two men go on to ask, “If you had already achieved your dream…. How would you act?”

As believers we are to act according to how we “see” ourselves through the eyes of faith. We may not look it, but we are loved, accepted, welcomed, and saved. And we are a complete success in Jesus Christ. Even when things don’t go as planned, even when we make mistakes, we can have confidence that God will see us through! (Correction: He already has seen us through!)

So, by faith you can — and should — count your Spiritual eggs before they hatch. You’ll be doing eggs-actly as God desires. (No eggs-aggeration.)

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