Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Essential ingredients

The store yesterday was packed with harried shoppers gathering ingredients for their Thanksgiving dinner, carefully examining the produce, weighing each item, and crossing off items on their shopping lists, one by one with great intention.  A sense of purpose and a bit of urgency pervaded the aisles.  My shopping cart was pushed aside several times as I tried to navigate the shopping turmoil while reading my own list, a task almost as dangerous as texting while driving.

The recipe called for one-quarter cup safflower oil.  No big deal.  With such a small amount, I decided to skip that item.  I have oil at home.  "It is not going to make a difference," I determined.

One of our daughters is "chef" this year.  Yesterday, I was the lowly concierge, purchasing the ingredients that she had designated.  She is an incredible cook.  I have tremendous respect for her efforts and the amazing results she produces.  I can follow the same recipe, and it doesn't look or even taste the same.

The difference lies in the details and in the very careful following of the recipe.  There is a reason for every ingredient, even if it doesn't make sense to me and even if I don't think it makes a difference.  Exhibit #1:  my cooking versus hers.

This week I was reading in the book of Ezekiel the careful dimensions of the altar, precisely measured.  It is always easy to skip over those allotments, measurements and restrictions.  Did it really matter then?  Does it matter to me now?

But in Scripture, there is always a reason for details.  In the margin of Ezekiel 48, I had written years ago:

In each of our lives, there are lines and boundaries, not to restrict or limit us, but that we may focus on and maximize what we have been given.  And yet, in our natures, it always seems greener elsewhere.

I may think that I know better than Julia Child or James Beard, but I don't know better than God.  Following Him, obeying what He says, makes a significant difference in my life and in the lives of everyone God places on my path.

Needless to say, rather ashamed by my arrogance, I am running to the store to get that little bottle of oil today.    Consider it submission, obedience, or just following the instructions. But in our lives, somehow even in the willingness to follow, God makes a difference in us.

You shall walk in all the way
which the LORD your God has commanded you,
that you may live,
and that it may go well with you,
and that you may live long in the land
which you shall possess.
                           Deuteronomy 5.33

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