Working All Things Together For Good

I am learning to cook. 
 
One of the rules Cheryl laid down before we came to Wales was that she was only preparing a meal every third night. If we were to eat the other two nights, Nicola and I would have to figure our way around a kitchen. Slowly, clumsily, with growing daring, we're managing.
 
It's more pleasure than I imagined. There is an artistry to cooking that I've long admired but feared to attempt. A tasty dish from raw ingredients is like a poem from a pile of words, or a sculpture from a lump of clay, or music from a violin, something that in less skilled hands can be wince-inducing, but with a master's touch can evoke heaven. 
 
I haven't made anything yet that would rank as a culinary masterpiece, and I'm almost slavishly bound to recipes (though learning to be adaptive since I can't always get the listed ingredients), but so far I've not food poisoned anyone, or even made them crumple their napkin on their untouched mound of food and push their plate away. Sometimes, they even have seconds.
 
I've made jambalaya, and pear-pancakes (with homemade syrup), and Cajun haddock, and roasted parsnips tossed in olive oil and fresh garlic, and apple muffins, and a dozen things besides.
 
It amazes me, cooking: the alchemy of it, the way flour and baking powder and raw eggs – things inedible or unpalatable by themselves – combine to make something tasty and nourishing. Every time I go into the kitchen now, I'm newly excited by the possibilities (please keep this to yourself – I don't want Cheryl finding out and expecting the Wales ruling to apply to Canada). 
 
I think this is how God works. He takes things in our lives that, by themselves, are hard or impossible to swallow. And he mixes them in such a way, and puts them in intense heat for just the right amount of time, that what comes out bears no resemblance to what went in. What goes in can be revolting. What comes out might be delectable. And yet, it wouldn't be this way without all the ingredients, even or especially the ones we'd never consume by themselves. 
 
Are you going through an ordeal right now, or a time of deep loneliness, or the sting of a loss or a failure? On its own, it's disgusting, and hard to swallow. But see what God does with it, what he mixes it with, what fire he refines it with. 
 
It may turn out to be your best meal yet.
 

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10 thoughts on “Working All Things Together For Good

  1. You're havin' far to much fun! That chicken's lookin' pretty good and now that Cheryl knows you're likin' the kitchen, she'll not want to hold you back once you return to Canada. Betcha she'll even offer to go to the office for you. You've cooked your own goose now man.
    Keep on havin' fun!

    • Hi, Nancy
      I'm still safe as long as Cheryl doesn't find out how much I enjoy it – that way I'll be able to have my goose and eat it =, too, or something like that.
      shalom
      Mark

  2. At one point I thought those were casts on your hands. I think I heard Vishal Mangalwadi describe God's grace in a similar way: his analogy was a painting where errors were painted over. Made all the more real with the slowcooker behind me here at home simmering my wife's excellent creation (I hope my strokes were corrective and not otherwise).

  3. Now you know why John enjoys baking…it is satisfying! Mind you he hasn't baked since you left but he cooks most meals here now! Kidless in our home and now it is easy for him.  He surprises me with how good it tastes!!

  4. You are looking so happy and relaxed – I guess the sabbatical is working. But now that the secret is out I guess I know what we will be having in September for our staff lunch – something prepared by the big boss himself.

  5. Amazing how many every day analogies you can find that apply to the Truths of God's Word… I'm reminded of one of the story I once heard (maybe it was from one of your books or sermons) where it was stated that in your kitchen today you have a Chocolate Pie… or rather, you have everything you need to make a Chocolate Pie – but in order to make a chocolate pie, you will have to put those ingredients together… and putting those together can get a bit messy. It was a reminder that we have everything in Christ that we need for Godliness… but if we are going to put it to use both to change our lives and impact those around us, we'll have to spend some time and energy putting the ingredients together and be willing to get a bit messy..
    Hope you have a great time in the kitchen and maybe a matching apron to go with those oven mits would be nice 🙂

    • Thanks, Wade. I remember using an illustration like that in a sermon. But good to be reminded. I have always admired the great revival preacher and theologian, Jonathan Edwards, who found evidence of God's genius, grace & providence in every dust mote, thunder cloud, and spider web. I pray for eyes like that.
      shalom
      Mark