The excitement is giggly. The secret is cool. Right here at your fingertips are four of the most delectable, oozing, warm, fully rounded, huge chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever seen in all your years. True to your anticipation, the first bite is awe inspiring. A cold glass of milk would make this experience perfect. It’s just you, the silence, the lack of witnesses, the satisfaction of a long time yearning and then this moment. Aaaahh….
Intrusively it happens, out of nowhere, like the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard that voice chases away any pleasure to be found here. The familiarity of this voice is like ice water on sun baked skin, the screeching before the impact, the sound of the flat line on the heart monitor….
“Sarah?”, and a pause that hangs in the air for moments longer than you thought possible…”did you take some of the cookies I made for the banquet tonight”? Busted! That moment the entire world stops-all motion, all breathing, all joy, all satisfaction, and those cookies….those symbols of pleasure and total fulfillment suddenly look dry and crumbly and stale and tasteless. What were you thinking? How did you get here?
Cookie thieving might be a small incident in the scope of all life’s temptations, and its pain momentary against the sands of time, but the avoidance, the ignoring, the turning away from the familiar voice, that is what really causes unending, eternal pain. I’ve experienced that moment with such a familiar voice. Have you?
There was a time when the baking of my life seemed all in order:
Dishes put away-check
Sustenance provided to family daily-check
Bitterness hidden behind closed cupboards-check
Christianity tucked neatly into pantry but easily accessible if needed-check
Expiration dates current on friendships-check
Music loud enough to drown out uncomfortable voices, reminders etc.-check
Good. Have a glass or two of wine to cover over your thoughts of “what abouts” and call it a day-check!
So life goes, and so did mine. I was fully consumed by the immediate ingredients of a career and child rearing and marriage and supposed friendships. Figuring out how to replace those things I needed with the least amount of cost, I was cooking away! Flipping patties of perfection, baking morsels of management, sautéing secrets and raising children like bread dough, I was living. Living. And then one day after a series of “you gotta be kidding me” moments, it happened. That familiar voice. I heard it. It cut through my world like a flame through a stick of butter: “Jan, have you seen the grace I made for your banquet of salvation?” As quickly as the voice, His voice, penetrated the air everything around me turned cold, grey, burned, and ashy. I began to see things for what they truly were.
The flour of my relationships suddenly had bugs in it. The eggs were rotted, the milk soured, the brown sugar hardened and rendered all but useless, my kitchen covered with roaches, my life was dark and moldy. Suddenly it wasn’t what it seemed and my reality was not a slow death by chocolate, but a sudden poisoning.
“How did this happen?” I cried in horror at the life I had baked all around me. As I watched it crumble and crash to the floor I realized what had taken years to perfect, to build, to masquerade crumbled apart in 30 seconds.
Expecting condemnation and judgment I stubbornly stood tall in the middle of my coordinated catastrophe and heard the familiar voice again. “Jan?” softly, gently my name almost drifted through the air, “are you ok?” Am I ok? I thought. Seriously, look around at the total wreckage, the stench, the messes, the shortfalls, and the filth of my kitchen!” ” I know”, said the gentlest voice ever imaginable, but I’m here now. Hand me that dish rag would you?”
Now, nearly every morning I wake up, I am amazed that the King of Kings, the Lord of Hosts, the creator of this very universe where my life dwells, creates masterful entrees and deserts with me in my kitchen. We’ve learned about manna and the living word. We’ve worked with living water as a main ingredient. We’ve discussed not only learning the recipes for good living, but how to share those secrets with other life chefs. I’ve met those who could sauté up good thoughts in thirty seconds and those who can slow bake a prayer like nobody’s business. I’ve met some who dwell on the sweetness of His presence and those hungry for all the meat they can get. I’ve even sat at the table with those only having milk, but lapping up every drop as if their lives depended upon it. Maybe that’s because they did!
But the most amazing thing I’ve learned in this newly remodeled life kitchen of mine is that no mess is too much for Him to take care of. Together we just attack the cleanup one step at a time and before I know it, we are moving on to another. And do you know what? Not only can He make delectable cookies out of a seemingly empty cupboard, but He even helps me do the dishes! WHO’S in YOUR kitchen?