We're trying to eat a healthier diet around here. And that means I'm doing a lot more cooking. But you know what I've learned? Cooking...real cooking, is hard work! It takes time and planning and lots more time.
And sometimes, people don't like what you slaved over! Early last week I made a dish that included artichoke heart. I won't tell you how long I stood in the grocery store looking for artichoke heart, but it got to the point that I actually called Jon and asked him to google "substitutes for artichoke" in case I never found it! Eventually I did find it, and I made the dish. One of my children asked if it was brain on her plate. Then I made a steak and onions dish, and someone asked if the cooked, sliced onions were squid. The next night I served a soup, painstakingly made with my own homemade chicken broth. The broth I had carefully seasoned with a variety of herbs and vegetables before it slow-cooked all night in my crock-pot. Of course, the kids questioned if there was grass in the soup the minute they saw the herbs. A few days later I gave them a smoothie with kale...more grass-related questions!
Needless to say the kids did not like or appreciate much of my hard work! I gave them a long lecture about how I have never tried to feed them brain or squid or grass, and that its rude to make non-stop negative comments when someone has spent time cooking for you. Jon gave them a lecture about how they wouldn't be able to go places like Ethiopia with him if they weren't willing to try new things. They thought about that, let it soak in and replied with "its not the best meal you've ever made, but its not the worst either"! I mean, do you even say "thank you" to that?!?
But a few days ago, God impressed on me a very interesting point. Sometimes we are called to serve people who do not appreciate our work. I was studying through John 6 with a friend, and verse 64 really stuck out to me:
"For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him."
Jesus came to earth. He loved. He served. He taught. He sacrificed His time and His energy, and then He gave His very life. And very often His love, His time, His sacrifice was not (and still is not) appreciated. And I was reminded that Jesus served Judas. Jesus served one who was not only unappreciative, but would completely turn his back on Him and betray Him.
Jesus knew what Judas would do, and yet he spent three years of His life in intimate friendship, patiently teaching and leading him. Jesus gently chastised Judas in John 12:7, and He lovingly washed Judas' feet along with the other disciples in John 13. When Jesus revealed that one of these twelve disciples would betray Him (John 13:22), those men had NO IDEA who He meant. Jesus had never treated Judas any different from the others. There was no clue in His demeanor, His attitude or His actions that He knew one of them was secretly plotting against Him.
And I realized that I am also called to wash the feet of others (John 13:15). Not just serving those who appreciate and thank me, those who really want to learn and grow, or those who are easy to love. But Judas. I'm called to serve people who may be difficult. People who may not appreciate or want my service. People who may even turn against me.
After considering the weightiness of Jesus' ministry, betrayal and sacrifice -- all the way to the Cross -- it seems silly to return to a conversation about cooking. But sometimes its the little, seemingly silly circumstances in which it is most difficult to submit to the example of Christ. I must realize I'm not cooking for my family so that they'll love it or thank me or think I'm great at something. I'm cooking for my family because I'm called to follow the example of Christ; to love Him, bring Him glory, and model His character in every aspect of my life.
And so, this weekend, when my kids asked if my whole-wheat, homemade pie crust was mud rolled out flat on the counter, I was able to smile, and think about Jesus...patiently serving even Judas.
Lord, help me to serve others today. Those I interact with in my home, neighborhood, work and community. Help me to love them with Christ's love, even if they're difficult, even if they complain, even if they seem like a Judas to me. Thank you that You loved, served and died EVEN FOR A SINNER LIKE ME! Help me to live like You.
"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13:14-17)