I have volunteered to test out recipes for a friend, and finding the whole experience pretty fun. This is for the nearly-ready-for-publishing 7th Revive cookbook. I am using ingredients I haven’t used a lot before, and I am thoroughly enjoying the change and challenge. The recipes are vegan, beautiful and fresh, and most importantly, wholesome. In our day to day life, I do usually cook from scratch, and use whole foods, but we are not vegan, not even vegetarian. And so I take hold of this opportunity to learn, taste, and experiment with tastes like I haven’t really before. Some of the ingredients I haven’t had a lot of experience with are tofu, red curry paste (I am a very very very mild girl…my husband was delighted to see the jar of red curry paste!), coconut sugar, coconut oil, almond butter, jackfruit (had to search for that one..thank you Bin Inn), almond milk, tempeh, miso and so forth. I am totally comfortable with the other things on my list…coconut milk, peanut base sauces, smoothies, and all the raw foods, but to try things with new flavours has been fantastic.
One thing about testing the recipes and being a bit of a critique, is that I have to follow the recipe exactly. Using exact measurements, cutting things exactly how the recipe instructs, mixing in the exact same way…all so that it can be determined how reliable the recipe is, and what tweaking needs to happen.
Once again, in the kitchen I found myself musing about how this was all an object lesson for life. This happens quite often when I am either cooking, gardening doing the dishes, feeding the chooks etc. It is usually in these sometimes mundane, routine activities I find object lessons or parallels to my Christian walk. So it went something like this…
Hmmm so I am cutting this carrot Julienne style. It would be easier to just chop up, but it says to Julienne it. Ok, I’ll cut it into fine strips (despite my knife skills!). Hmmmm it says to blend the sauce with a hand blender…I have a fork right here, but I suppose the blender will blend it better. Ok, I’ll blend with the hand blender. Hmmm I wonder if I should add more coriander to that…no, the recipe says 1/4 Cup, so I’ll stick with that just in case it would take over the flavour of the dish. And on it went. The dish was amazing, so how on earth did I manage to get life lessons out of that??
In life God asks us to simply follow his instructions. He knows best. He knows how the flavours go together in just the precise way, and he knows how the different textures can compliment each other to bring culinary joy. People (and I would like to argue…pets) in our life are like the flavours and textures of a dish. The people that God brings together in our life-time are there to compliment us, shape us, sharpen us, challenge us, teach us. We do need to be careful of the flavours we add, so not to spoil the overall taste. So it is with people who constantly bring us down…we may need to step aside from them, and surround ourselves with people who are like-minded in overall purpose, who give us constructive and not destructive feedback, and who build us up positively. But we need to do that with God’s leading – as sometimes we are led to help heal another hurting soul. Sometimes we are the one to complement a flavour, to bring about a new taste – like sweet and sour. And sometimes others are there to do the same for us.
The story of Naaman is one of many I think of, when it comes to following God’s instructions. The story is found in 2 Kings Chapter 5…
2 Kings 5:13-15
Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”
So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
Naaman must have wondered what good it would do to wash seven times. He might have even thought it was a little silly. But, he trusted the prophet Elisha’s word from God. He followed through with the exact instruction, and his leprosy was healed.
God knows just how long to ‘cook’ something, He knows the recipe. He knows the outcome. He already knows the finished product. We need to trust in God’s timing.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (NIV)
Too much cooking and the food is dry, burnt and loses it goodness. Not enough cooking, and the food may be raw and unpalatable. But it depends on the ingredients and the overall dish…it depends on the season we are in as to how long we will be there. We need to trust HIS timing. He alone knows how long we are to be in a season so that the ‘skewer’ comes out beautifully clean. He know how long to sauté, how long to boil, how long to bake…he knows how long we are to be in a situation, depending on the situation and depending on God’s desired outcome. We are to trust his timing, (as hard as that can be) as the season will pass and we will come out of it shaped and moulded a little different than before, all for God’s purpose.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)
His purpose for shaping you right now, might be for a totally different recipe, years down the track. His purpose for shaping you now, might be so that you can help shape someone else in a totally different context, in a different ‘dish’. So lets keep our perspective open, for we never know why things happen, or why we go through certain experiences.
Isa 64:8 “Still God, you are our Father. We’re the clay and you’re our potter” (The Message)
Then there is the joy in sharing a meal with someone else. When we have been in a ‘season’, and can look back and see God’s leading, what a joy it is to be able to share with someone else the delights of the flavours of the experience. We are called to share with one another, to encourage one another with our experience.
Psalm 71:15 “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.” (ESV)
Psalm 66:16 “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” (ESV)
Often, God will place us in people’s paths, when they are currently in a season we have been in before. It is then that we can help restore sight to the person, sight of God’s purpose, sight of the goal, sight of the finish line. We can encourage them with how God has led us and worked in us, in the past. Sometimes we need others to help reshape our own perspective, and that is exactly why God puts us into different experiences…all so we can learn, and be of encouragement to someone else down the road.
1 These 5:11 “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.” (The Message)
We were not made to share our meals alone, we were created to have relationship with each other, to carry each other’s burden, to rejoice with each other’s victories. To share in the different textures of life, and to learn through each opportunity. So I invite you to my table, to share the flavours in my dish, a recipe that God has put together. Be encouraged, be delighted, be blessed.