Every night of the week I cook for my husband and children. Every. Single. Night. Some of my meals are fancy and organic and slowly crafted to perfection. Other nights, my family dinners are simple, packed with way too many carbs and messy, as they are thrown together in a last minute panic. Dinner comes and goes; we clean up the kitchen and do it again the next night. It’s routine. It’s also necessity.
Here is an example of a fairly recent meal. This happens to fall under the fancy, organic and slowly crafted to perfection category. A good old northern staple – meat and potatoes, says the girl born and raised in Ohio. The minute I put it down on the table, I heard complaints from my 4 and 7 year old sons. “Mom, this steak looks gross!” “Yuck, I don’t want my cucumbers and tomatoes touching the gravy!” “Mom, you know I don’t like mashed potatoes.” “We just had mushrooms last week!.” “I’m not eating this dinner!”
Deep breath, Nicole. Deep breath. “Okay, you don’t have to eat it boys, life is about choices – but I am not fixing you a separate meal and you are going to be very hungry by bedtime.” Just like the cucumbers staring back at me, I was cool and calm on the outside. But inside, I felt defeated. I worked all day, then made a special trip to the farmers market to get my produce, took extra time picking out just the right cucumbers, paid extra for organic tomatoes, spent more time and energy in the kitchen preparing this meal, hurt my finger peeling the potatoes, and missed an important phone call because I didn’t want to burn my steak. Ohhh, and used extra water in a drought just so I could triple wash my mushrooms! I was proud of my work. I invested so much of my heart into this meal. I wanted my family to be just as excited to receive it, as I was to give it.
As I sat there for a minute staring at my own plate, somewhere in between my deep breaths and their complaints, I thought about something. I bet this is exactly how God must feel sometimes, too. He works so hard for all of us, his children, and we fight him tooth and nail when what he dishes up isn’t exactly what we want or expect. In other words, perhaps His menu doesn’t always line up with our taste buds.
Protein. Vegetables. I try to explain to my kids they need these things to grow and flourish. But my pleas go in one ear and out the other. Yep, I bet this is how God must feel sometimes, too. How many times did you hear the universe whisper to you, and you ignored it? You tuned out the whispers because you know it all already, right? I’m not judging. I have done the same.
How many times do you think God works all day for someone else, but in the evening, still makes time for us? Time to listen to our prayers. Time to help heal our wounds. Time to lift our worries. And do we ever think, wow, that was so nice of him to give me his undivided love and attention, especially when he must be exhausted. And no matter how grueling our day at the office is, lets be honest … the problems we solve at work can’t even compare to the problems he handles every minute of every day.
How many times do you think God “makes a special trip” on our behalf … and we don’t even realize it? It’s not an intentional slight, we are unaware perhaps of the work it took for Him to grant our wish. What about the extra time and energy it takes for Him to keep us safe on a particular day, or healthy on another? How would we know the hours or days it takes Him to prepare something great for us? Do you think our kids truly think about the time it takes us to grocery shop and cook dinner? Yep, I bet this is how God must feel sometimes, too.
Continuing on, how many times does God patiently pick out something for us, and when He sits it in our lap, we disregard it? Even complain about it! Or worse yet, we refuse it. How many times does He “pay extra” for something, more than we deserve? You know, giving up His own life to save ours. I consider that paying extra. Think about it. Do adults just expect God’s blessings – even simple ones like walking and talking- because they just become routine? Like dinner. Yep, I bet this is how God feels sometimes, too.
When I hurt my finger peeling the potatoes, I should have thought of Him immediately. How many times does He hurt – knowing we are struggling, knowing we are hurting, and yet he pushes on. He continues to craft his creation to perfection, even while in pain. He keeps trying to feed us.
How many times has God “missed an important call” because he was tending to something or someone else? It doesn’t mean he didn’t hear our prayers. It just means he will “answer the phone” on His timeline. Not ours.
And how many times has He had to tap into extra resources to “feed us?” Mentally. Spiritually. Physically. How many times has He had to use extra water to cleanse us of our sins? And you know what … it doesn’t faze him, because He’s back in the kitchen the next night. And the next. And the next. He keeps showing up. When life is fancy and perfectly plated, He is there. When life is unhealthy and messy, He is still there.
God, like you and me, is so proud of his work. He invests so much of His heart into all of us. And I bet He wants us to be just as excited to receive “His food” as He is to give it. We may not always want what He dishes up, but He is always there with a hot plate. Even when we ignore it. Even when we complain about it. Even when we don’t have an appetite, He is always ready to feed us.