World-class Cooking with Leftovers

It might have been last night when we had this conversation:

“Let’s make a salad for supper.”

“Ugh! This lettuce is gooey!”

“Okay, well then how about soup from the vegetable drawer?”

“Well, the carrots are limp and the celery is streaked with brown, the cucumbers are soft and the leftover peas are lifeless.”

“What now? What can you make from a refrigerator stocked with wilted veggies?”

“Not much, but we better get this sorted and cleaned out before we go shopping.”

Have you noticed that all the great cooking shows on TV these days are stocked with the freshest, best-looking food? There is not one brown streak to be found anywhere ― and even the mushrooms were picked that morning. The chef comes in and voila, the perfect dish is presented to the judges who gush over it, exclaiming they have never had something so delicious. It is great competition, but I wonder if it has any practical value for me in my kitchen.

I think we should start lobbying for a show called World-class Cooking with Leftovers.” The host would say to the contestants, “Your challenge today is to cook something good from these ingredients – the stuff we’ve raided from your friend’s refrigerators down and around the block.”

The contestants would then receive inferior veggies and discounted meats to work with. The winner of that competition would certainly be welcome in my house, anytime, because he or she would have proven that a good, editable meal can be created using imperfect ingredients. It might not be as perfect as a dish prepared from perfect food, but we would have to say that chef can do wonders with even the leftovers.

My friends and I are a lot like the inferior food leftover in my icebox. You might say we’ve been in the frig too long and may even be getting close to being thrown out.  I am imperfect in body, soul, and mind; living in an imperfect house in an imperfect town with family and friends who are imperfect; attending a church that is imperfect and picking up job after job that just doesn’t seem to fit who I’d like to be and what I’d like to do with my life.

I have to admit that after all this time I sometimes still long to do something exactly right, say something exactly right, and look exactly right – in other words, to make a perfect life. In those moments I want a job that fits me, energy that is boundless, and love and accomplishment oozing out of everything I do. But what can anyone do with imperfect ingredients in an imperfect kitchen with imperfect utensils? I’ve tried making something that tastes good out of my life, and many times have ended up pining away precious moments wishing I were a better man and life made more sense.

The really cool thing about all this here and now is that we have someone other than ourselves that we can invite into our lives and homes and jobs, to take what is imperfect and make something good out of it.

That someone is the Lord Jesus Christ. He takes leftovers and makes masterpieces that some day the world will marvel over and praise – “contest winning recipes” if you please, that taste really good and are the best we could hope for from what is leftover from our self-effort yesterday.

God has only imperfect ingredients with which to work. Yet, miracle of miracles, He is a master at doing the best and most loving thing that can be done with those ingredients.

“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (MSG)

Perhaps you’ve been praying, expecting God to do the perfect thing in an imperfect world. Why be surprised when result of our praying isn’t the perfect solution we were salivating over in our imagination? Could we have done any better? Is there any other so-called god that can do better, given the leftovers of our lives? NO!

God will have perfect people in a perfect world to work with one day.  Imagine that! Yes, imagine what God will do with us when everything is once again perfect, but in the meantime, we must trust Him to do the best with us, as we are, in the leftover world we have created.

“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:41-44 (NASB)

“I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea. I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband. 3-5 I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: ‘Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.’ The Enthroned continued, ‘Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.’” Revelation 21:1-5 (MSG)

David Ewert

Saturday, November 11, 2017

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