Finding God in a Burnt Turkey

By Martha Bolton:

We can end up finding God in all kinds of strange things…even a burnt turkey.


Turkey memorial

Turkey Memorial

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best cook in the world. You’ll never see my recipes on the Food Network (although, Home Depot might be moved to display a few of them in their lumber aisle).

My biggest problem is with my timing. I put the food on the stove or in the oven, and then I get distracted. A TV show catches my eye, I need to finish something on the computer, I go on vacation…

What happened one Christmas some years ago was not the result of any of that, though. It was an innocent mistake.

Mark Lowry had given my family and I a smoked turkey for Christmas. Now, I don’t recall ever serving anything “smoked” before, other than maybe brownies (smoked, smoldering, what’s the difference?)

So I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare the gifted holiday bird. I had no idea that the term “smoked” meant that it had already been cooked.  Remembering that my mother always placed the turkey into the oven at night and then cooked it until the next day, I decided to do the same. I laid the bird in a pan, wrapped aluminum foil over it, and then baked it at 350-degrees until I served it the next day for the Christmas meal. It smelled delicious. That smokey aroma filled the entire house.  My dinner guests, which included a professional chef, were sure to be impressed.

But when I pulled back the aluminum foil, I was aghast to see that the turkey was as black as coal, and the meat of its drumsticks had shrunken down, exposing several inches of bone.  If you stood the poor thing up on its legs, it would’ve looked like a Cornish hen on stilts.

Mark almost cried, citing that it was the best tasting turkey in the country and I had turned it into turkey jerkey.

Luckily, I had also prepared a ham which I had only baked a few hours, so the dinner wasn’t a total disaster.

But I learned something that day about the importance of timing, the futility of trying to impress others, and how God can turn our mishaps into opportunity.

God has his perfect timing.  It was in his perfect timing that the first Christmas happened in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago.

That babe, who left heaven to sleep on a bed of hay, didn’t worry about impressing others, either.  The one who humbly and obediently traded a throne for a manger of wood didn’t think about what others would say about him.

And God can turn even burnt turkey into opportunities:  The opportunity to learn from my mishap—I now read the instructions on food gifts before incinerating them.  I also know that watching someone’s actions at a particular moment does not always give the whole story.  Mom put the turkey in the oven at night, but what I didn’t realize is that she got up in the middle of the night to take it out of the oven when it was done and then put it in the refrigerator.  She was simply reheating it in the morning.

So look for God to show up at your Christmas gathering this year.  He’ll be there.  In ways you might not even realize.  Even in a burnt turkey.

©Martha Bolton. Martha has written for many well-known comedians including Bob Hope, and also is a musical screenplay writer and book author  and parody lyric writer. Find out more about Martha at According to Martha, “Life’s tough. God’s good. And laughter’s calorie-free!”

We are excited to welcome Martha to our Finding God Daily team, to inject more humor and wisdom into our blog! In the video below, meet Martha as she shares her recent works on Amish musicals and fiction, including Josiah for President, and describes what it was like working closely with comedian Bob Hope for over fifteen years:

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