January 17th 2014 No comments yet
I am a perfectly capable cook, but I am usually just too lazy to put forth the effort. I am a simple man with simple tastes and sticking a turkey sandwich in the panini maker is usually more than enough to keep me happy for dinner. When I do cook, my go-to is the crock-pot. Throw some food in, flip it on, and forget about it for a few hours. If there is a more bachelor way to cook outside of roasting meat on a stick above an open flame in the kitchen, I have not found it.
Last night, my roommate and I decided to make a meal to cook overnight, and I got stuck chopping an onion. Lacking a dicing device, I chopped away with a knife.
My eyes took the full brunt of what felt like Freddy Krueger in gas form assaulting my retinas. Tears flowed like the mighty Mississippi, and I cursed the onion’s family and forefathers. When I finally made it to the crock-pot through a veil of tears and screaming eyelids to add them to the rest of the ingredients, I was so thankful to be done with them.
However, I woke up this morning, and my kitchen smelled like happiness after all the contents had been left to cook overnight. Among the many wonderful smells was the distinct, lovely scent of cooked onion. A few hours of heat had turned it from a curb stomping of my sinuses to a warm blanket for my sense of smell.
Chopping those onions reminded me of Romans 8:28.
Chuck delivered a message recently titled “Don’t Miss the Treasure!” in which he preached on the providence of God based in part on Romans 8:28. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (NLT)
We often see the phrase “for the good of those who love Him” and think it means that He will work our life out for us in ways we think He should. We forget what God deems good for us is sometimes like that onion: It’s not very fun and is, in fact, quite painful in the preparation stage.
To cite a personal example, I battled a nasty bout of clinical depression for about a year in college. It was an awful, painful time that I never want to experience again. At the same time, I’m immensely thankful for it now that it’s over. It transformed how I live my life.
As well as my situation turned out, it is far from the standard result of hardships Christians endure. A lot of sad stories don’t have happy endings, and we have all had our share of those moments (or soon will). In the narrow scope of our immediate attention and situation, it’s easy to wonder why individual happenings don’t fit into the narrative of Romans 8:28.
And that’s where we hit a second key concept: “together”. Remember, I did not just cook the onions last night. The crock-pot also had turkey, rice, beans, bell peppers, and more spices than an East India Company ship could hold (including bay leaves, which I’m told taste like a kick in the teeth, but somehow they make food taste better?).
There were many ingredients in the crock-pot, all with separate processes and preparation challenges. On their own, the individual tastes range from pretty good to pretty awful. Your experiences and struggles are the ingredients of your life. You can’t have a final product that’s worth eating without everything present in the crock-pot.
Once you have gathered all the ingredients, you introduce the third and most critical concept of cooking a crock-pot meal: lots of time.
God’s timing isn’t a microwave; it’s a slow cooker. I have found that His purpose does not usually constitute a quick turnaround. Sometimes we do not recognize the purpose of an event or hardship God introduced into our lives for years, if we ever recognize it.
Even if you do not understand some of your life’s happenings, Chuck also mentioned something that was comforting to me personally, “Nothing touches us that has not first flowed through the fingers of our God. Every bit of it. He directs, he permits, he allows, he releases.”
God does not introduce an ingredient into our crock-pot on accident. Everything is added for a reason. The good, the seemingly insignificant, and the extremely painful all have a place in the recipe of what God is cooking up for you.
Give him the time to make it into something special. He knows his way around the kitchen.
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