I come from a long line of excellent cooks. Gifted, southern women who know how to make flaky dinner rolls from scratch, who know how to make chocolate pie with up-to-there meringue, who can create heavenly kitchen scents which will bring even the manliest soldier to his knees. That is my heritage.
I am the black sheep of the family.
It’s not that I can’t cook. I just don’t need to cook. After all, my mother cooks, my brother cooks, my sister-in-law cooks . . . and I don’t want to take their joy from them. So I step back and let them create their sumptuous miracles. I’m content to stand in the shadows – usually sneaking a bite of something or other.
But my dear mother, bless her heart, has not given up on me. She still instructs me in all things kitchen, revealing to me the deep family secrets in hopes that her legacy will continue on. It seems so important to her that of course, I pretend to listen to her ageless wisdom. That’s why tonight, when she instructed me in the proper way to prepare and cook asparagus, I did what any upright, God-fearing daughter would do.
I looked at her like she was nuts, wrinkled my nose, and said, “You’re kidding, right?”
She wasn’t kidding. Standing at the kitchen sink, she showed me how to wash the green stalks, then bend them in the middle until they broke in two. She told me to throw the ends in the trash. Again, I looked at her in dismay. The conversation went something like this:
Me: You’re kidding, right?
Her: No. Why would I kid about that?
Me: But you’re throwing nearly half of it in the trash.
Her: That’s the tough part. It’s not any good. You only want to keep the tender part.
I held my tongue. After all, we were talking about asparagus, for goodness’ sake. Nasty, mushy asparagus. None of it was any good.
I obediently followed her directions, drizzling the tender pieces with a little olive oil, then sprinkling them with salt. I heated them in a skillet for three minutes. Then I turned them and let them cook for three more minutes. They were still crispy, and barely seared on the edges. My mother pronounced them “done.”
Then I wrinkled my nose, closed my eyes, and took a bite.
It was heavenly. I’m not kidding. Never in my life would I have imagined asparagus could taste so good. All these years, I’ve been avoiding that particular vegetable. If only I’d known how to cook it properly. If only I’d known to bend it to the breaking point, and throw away the tough part. If only I’d known that you’re not supposed to cook it ‘til it’s mush.
Hmmmm . . .
Sometimes, I feel like God is bending me too far. Sometimes it feels like He’s trying to break me, and I don’t want to be broken. And sometimes, I’m certain He’ll turn me into mush. But now that I’ve tasted that heavenly asparagus, I wonder if God doesn’t have some delicious plans in mind for my life.
It’s not His intention to break us beyond repair. When He allows us to get to the breaking point, it’s simply because He wants to set us free from things in our lives that are useless and tough. He wants only the sweet, crisp part to remain.
He won’t cook us until we’re mush, either. He’s the Master Chef, and He wants to create a masterpiece. He knows what He’s doing, and if we let Him, He’ll make something heavenly of our lives.
Before we know it, we’ll look around and realize that the tough parts only weighed us down and kept us from realizing our full potential. But we’ll only get to that point if we trust Him completely, and allow Him to take us to the breaking point.
“I have chosen . . . to set the oppressed free and break every yoke,” Isaiah 58:6.