Lately, an incredible number of “God events” have been occurring in my life. Standing over the kitchen stove, I was replaying all these events in my head. The process of cooking brought this thought to my mind: Does God mix and stir us and wait for the perfect flavor before opening the doors for us to walk through?
The fish chowder recipe was simple enough, but my experience told me I needed to be careful. This is a dish that can be easily ruined by too much starch, the wrong fish, cooking at too high a temperature, etc. The available fish in the freezer was sole, a thin, flavorless fish that cooks quickly and breaks apart easily. Wanting to make sure I didn’t mess this up, I checked through my thousands of recipes to select something that would resemble my idea of the perfect chowder. (I rarely follow recipes anymore, but they do serve as useful guidelines when I’m unsure of myself.)
I gathered my ingredients: potatoes, bacon, onions, chicken broth, milk, herbs, and fish. I planned carefully. I prepared the broth and the vegetables separately, choosing the exact time to add the partially cooked veggies to the thickened broth. Near the end of the cooking process, I added my fish, slowly poaching the fish in the broth with the veggies. The final touch was cream. Since cream has a tendency to curdle, I added it to the end of the cooking process in a very slow steady stream, and then reheated the soup to the optimal temperature, just below the boiling point.
The end result was perfect. But how could I be sure? Of course someone had to taste it. My very honest husband not only raved about it, but had a second bowl. Two days later he asked for the leftovers. Not surprising, the leftovers actually tasted better than the first day! How could that be? The soup had mellowed, allowing all the flavours of the various ingredients to mix and mingle to produce one very smooth soup.
Good cooking is all about the perfect timing, the perfect blend of ingredients, and the proper temperature. Just like life. We are who we are because of the things we have gone through. Each experience in itself may be meaningless, or may raise emotions. But once done, that experience passes and we are on to the next phase of our life. Sometimes the temperature of events is raised to an uncomfortable level, to the point where we are screaming in pain. We have reached our boiling point. But then God mixes in a cooling agent, and life settles down again. Eventually we get to the point where a new experience changes our interpretation of past events and life takes another twist. Our flavors change. As we mature, we mellow. Our past experiences, be they good or bad, have changed us. Now we can reflect back and see the soup that God made, and wonder in the miracle of it all.
Unfortunately, the process of getting to this stage is painful. God shapes us, molds us, mixes us, and cooks us. If we rebel, we get stuck. Like the thickened broth, it is in itself almost inedible; we are of little use in God’s kingdom if we don’t allow him to move us into the next phase. We find ourselves trying to control the process, somehow thinking that we are God, we know what is supposed to happen next. We can fix our life ourselves. We can handle the situation. We know when to “throw the fish into the soup.” DA! No we don’t. Seriously, how many times have you messed up your life? I’ve done lots of messing up. It’s the old story: if I could do my life differently, I would do…… !
But in the end, does it matter? God sees our messes. If we allow him, he knows what to do with them. Like a dirty kitchen, he cleans us up, throws the good ingredients back in the pot, raises the temperature and continues to stir. Eventually he comes up with a product that he is happy with. More importantly, it’s a product he can use in his kingdom, for his purpose.
God’s timing is always perfect. I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind thinking of my life as a “God Soup.”
Passages: Matthew 6:8 Your father knows what you need before you ask him (ESV); Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (ESV)
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the messes of my life. So many times I have found myself in the pit of despair, not knowing how I got there, or why I am there. I have cried to you from the depth of my bowels, and my tears have rained endlessly. My body has screamed in pain, demanding a release from this life. Still, you have given me the strength and courage to go on. My loneliness has controlled my mind and haunted me with life destroying thoughts. I have at times argued with you and blamed you. Still you have sent your angels to bring me messages of encouragement. I thank you for those messengers of hope. At times you remind me of how fortunate I am, as there is always someone who has more difficulties, more sorrows, more pain. When I have messed up, you have reminded me that although I am a product of my past, I don’t have to live there. I can ask for forgiveness and move on, knowing that my guilt and shame are covered by your blood.
You have given us a future and a hope. You are our father, mother, sister, brother, healer, provider, counsellor and savior. Everything we go through, everything that happens to us, is for your use and for your glory. For this, I thank you.