A couple of weeks ago I stepped down as an associate pastor at our church to prepare for our move out of state. It’s the first time being a full-time stay-at-home mom with no meetings to attend, no sermons to prep, no ministry or work obligations whatsoever. So how do I fill up this new space in my life? I cook. Instead of prepping for Sunday services, I plan for meals. Instead of having coffee dates with people, I shop for groceries with the intent of filling my family’s bellies and our fridge to bursting. I am becoming my mother, and I can’t help it…
I’m always hungry right when I wake up. I pretty much think about food for most of the day. What should we eat for lunch? What should we do for dinner? Do we have anything to cook at home? Do we have snacks in the pantry? Where’s the chocolate?? Food is one of my love languages, but it wasn’t until recently that I started appreciating the process of cooking good food.
I grew up on boxed mac-n-cheese, McDonald’s cheeseburgers, and the usual staple Korean foods- rice + roasted seaweed, rice + kimchi, rice + anything that could add flavoring, even Kraft cheese singles (that one probably isn’t a staple). Those things stayed with me into adulthood because quick, decent food was the only standard I had when it came to eating.
But then I got married to a chef. Our stomachs come from different backgrounds. His parents and grandparents owned restaurants, so he grew up in the kitchen- eating, watching, learning. He came to appreciate the slow process of making good food early on in life, and over time cooking became his thing too.
Our different approaches to creating a meal never fails to amaze me. Even though I’ve gotten better over the years, my instinct for quick and easy is still there.
For breakfast, I usually eat over easy eggs with toast and a cup of coffee. I measure out the grinds, pour the water in, and as I hear the sweet dripping I slice my bread in half and put it into the George Foreman grill to toast (we unfortunately don’t own a toaster). I throw a chunk of butter into the pan, swirl it around, and crack two eggs into the buttery layer. I’ve learned to stay at the stove when I cook instead of wandering off so I mindlessly stare at the egg whites as they turn opaque. I flip them over as I’ve been taught by the husband and smile inside when I don’t burst the yolk. I check on the toast every once in a while, but the Foreman grill is taking its sweet old time to heat up.
The coffee’s ready, the eggs are ready, but I get bored waiting for my bread so I turn to my phone to pass the time by. Facebook. Instagram. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Like. Comment. Scroll. By the time I remember the bread, it’s beyond toasted. Darn it. I never get that part right.
Regardless, I eat my breakfast, charred bread and all, and I’m OK with it. It’s decent, my hunger is no longer there, and I’m satisfied.
When James makes his breakfast later in the morning, it’s a totally different approach. He is in love with food, in love with the making of it, and it’s a wonder to watch it.
He gets out the bacon, eggs, cheese, ham, lettuce, and his homemade spread. He slice his bread, smears butter on either side, and puts it into the Foreman grill. He gets the bacon going in one pan, and starts the eggs in another. Everything is cooked to the right crispiness, the right toastiness, the right taste. He proceeds to assemble the perfect breakfast sandwich with all his ingredients. It takes him 10 minutes longer to make his, but I know his probably tastes 100 times better.
As I watched him eat his delicious meal while my mediocre one sat in my stomach, I understood a bit more about the slow work of God.
James’s breakfast reminded me how we’re too easily satisfied with average, quick results. We’re too impatient for God to handle, to weave, to work His plans out, so we step in, we take shortcuts, we take things into our own hands. But our efforts are always mediocre compared to His. His is bacon. His is homemade spread. His is slow, wisely planned, perfectly timed, and beautiful in its final form.
It may feel unnecessarily slow or roundabout, but His priorities are unlike ours. We can only see the short view of what may be good for us, but He takes the long view of eternity to filter through what’s really best for us. He cares about the inner work of honing our character and takes His time to build our spiritual strength, our soul strength. He disciplines us, He lets us wander, He brings us back with grace and gentleness. He knows our natural pull to resist, to be reluctant, so He woos us, He draws us near with kindness and reminders of His past faithfulness and goodness.
The slow work of God is so deeply good. Lean into it. Let it lead you to levels of intimacy with Him you couldn’t have experienced otherwise. Let it test your impatience, your distrust, and prove that you can rest on the Rock of Ages.
It may feel slow to you, but His pace, just like His timing, is always perfect. Stay with Him.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.