Banana Pudding Discipleship

Banana+puddingOccasionally I am brought up short by the realization that some people have never had real banana pudding. If you are wondering what I’m talking about, you are one of those people.

My heart breaks for you.

Real banana pudding is made following the recipe on the Nilla Vanilla Wafers box. As a public service, I present it here:


3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash salt
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
45 NILLA Wafers, divided
5 ripe bananas, sliced (about 3 1/2 cups), divided
Additional NILLA Wafers and banana slices, for garnish


1. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Blend in 3 egg yolks and milk. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
2. Reserve 10 wafers for garnish. Spread small amount of custard on bottom of 1 1/2-quart casserole; cover with a layer of wafers and a layer of sliced bananas. Pour about 1/3 of custard over bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard to make a total of 3 layers of each, ending with custard.
3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Spoon on top of pudding, spreading evenly to cover entire surface and sealing well to edges.
4. Bake at 350°F in top half of oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned. Cool slightly or refrigerate. Garnish with additional wafers and banana slices just before serving.

There are other banana pudding recipes that require less time, less preparation, and less love to prepare, but they are pale imitations of the real thing. One gets out of a banana pudding what one (or, in my case, one’s Good Wife) is willing to put into it. Quality ingredients, dedicated effort, use of a double boiler and an oven, and meringue make for a wonderful banana pudding-eating experience.

Oh, you can take short-cuts, even to the point of using a boxed pudding mix, in making “banana pudding” (I use quotation marks in the sense of “so-called”), but you will not have the full and true banana pudding experience.

When it comes to discipleship, to our following of Jesus, we have choices as to what recipe we will use. We can settle for short-cuts and pre-packaged approaches and the result will be, so far as it goes, “discipleship.” But we also have the option of going all in; we can take the time, make the effort, and use the quality ingredients (prayer, silence, Bible study, worship, and service) that will result in real deal discipleship.

I’ve had all kinds of banana pudding and I’ve seen all kinds of discipleship.

In both cases, once you’ve experienced the real thing, you won’t want the other stuff

This post originally appeared at On Jericho Road.

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra; father of Joshua and Sara. He pastors First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, GA and a graduate of Mercer University (1978) & Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1982 & 1986). He is the former Pastor of First Baptist Church, Adel, GA, former Associate Professor in the School of Religion at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, and former pastor of The Hill Baptist Church in Augusta, GA.

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