She took her daily position in front of the stove conscientiously preparing food for her family. Three times per day, seven days, a week. Fall, winter, spring. And summer? She never complained when the heat from the stove bounced off the walls and radiated on her small frame in the fanless, air-condition-less house. She just padded the beads of perspiration and continued with her cooking.
I recognized the aromas of ingredients, especially on Fridays, a blend of hand-chopped, green peppers, onions, thyme, black pepper. I heard familiar sizzling sounds and knew that fresh porgies from the fish market had found a resting place in her black iron pan and would finally land in my plate alongside some string beans and rice. I thanked God for the meal she provided.
My mother was always in the kitchen on a mission to prepare something for the family. During the process, she may have accidentally nicked a finger, or lifted a hot pot without a mitt. She used her meager knife, bowl, spoon, stove to make meals to perfection. I had a list of my favorites: cod fish cakes, pone, coconut bread and fruit cake. But since she was a solitary chef, I would never learn the recipes for these dishes that I loved and enjoyed, and so I could never prepare them for myself or someone else.
Over the years I had become familiar with a chef of another kind, a Master Chef. This time I would not let the opportunity to learn pass me by. I read that when his mother was looking for him, He pretty much told her He was in the kitchen, -- but not one defined by stoves, pantries and pans. Whenever He was taking care of His father’s business, He was in a kitchen, the place of preparing
“. . .food that endures to eternal life.” (John 6:27). And He invited everyone to join Him there.
Sometimes He was in the kitchen performing miracles, other times He was teaching. Sometimes He was just praying. He showed us how to love our enemies, feed the hungry, draw water for the thirsty. This was kitchen-work for the Master Chef.
As apprentice chefs, we must do as He does. We must spend some time in the kitchen where we mix the ingredients of our faith with the heat of our lives to produce the fruit of His spirit. The living room, bedrooms and dens have their place, but the kitchen is that special place of faith-work. Like Jesus, our Glorious Chef, we must spend some time in the kitchen.
The heat from the kitchen did get to Him, “Let this cup pass from me. . .“ --but He never recoiled from the kitchen. Neither must we. We must have a “ not my will, but thine be done“ attitude.
And when He asks, “Do you love me.”
Our response? “Yes, Chef.”
When He says, “Take care of my sheep.”
We say, “Yes, chef.”
When he says,
“Feed my lambs.”
We say, “Yes, Master Chef.”
When He says, “Follow me.”
We say, “Yes, Chef; yes, Chef; yes, Chef”
For the apprentice chef, there is no better place to be than in the kitchen with the Master.
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