Ignoring the Recipe
Malachi 3:10 “’Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.’”
As I type these words, the aroma of freshly baked banana bread fills my house. I don’t profess to be an expert baker, but I did grow up in a house where every meal was home-cooked. Mother was not a gourmet chef, but a culinary master of comfort food and large quantity casseroles served piping hot from Corning Ware dishes.
I never recall seeing my mother use a measuring cup nor measuring spoon. Innately, she knew how much of each ingredient was needed. So, with this as my example, I learned to cook using a pinch, a sprinkle, a smidgen, a dab, and a dash, just like my mother. Today, a cutie named Rachel Ray has made this style of cooking famous, but I want you to know I was birthed by its real inventor.
Many years ago at our sons’ end of season baseball picnic, a Grandmother brought her famous poppy seed bread. Every crumb was devoured and her recipe coveted by everyone. When several asked for her recipe, she graciously agreed to share it. Now, I really did not want the recipe because my life was spent chasing two wild little boys and nursing a baby, so the very thought of baking something totally unnerved me. However, feeling compelled to request the recipe just because everyone else did, I piped up and asked for her recipe, too. This grandmother looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, honey. I can’t give you the recipe. You will not follow it exactly as written and it will not turn out right.”
Have you ever had every audible word escape your mind rendering you mute? Yep, that was me. Truly, I can’t recall my reply, if indeed I had one. But, her comment stayed with me the rest of the day and evening. In fact, now that I think about it, that was 30 years ago, and I still recall her words almost verbatim.
But, you know what else? She was right. Indeed, I would not have measured any of the ingredients and I would have added too much of one and too little of the next and the bread would not have been her recipe. But, I am still puzzled how she knew my habits.
Then, many years later, I was gifted a redemption day when I realized that my method of cooking was biblical. Yes, even God, likes the “Rachel Ray” approach of non-measurement. Luke 6:38 tells us that if we extend generosity, God will give back to us without measuring. He will give back a “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” No need for an exact measuring cup here!
Psalm 23 tells us that God is so liberal in his love towards us, instead of measuring out our blessings, he overflows our cup. James 1:6 tells us that if we ask for wisdom, he gives us wisdom generously and without measure. And in Matthew 18, the original recipe for forgiveness is seven times. But Jesus said, forget that recipe and forgive seventy times that number. That’s way more forgiveness than the recipe called for.
Yes, these images of God cooking us up something really good gives me pleasure and a bit of redemption for those words long ago. Did I change the way I cook? Absolutely not. So, a word of advice. Never ask me for a recipe unless you understand the amounts of a pinch, a dab, and a smidgen, because it’s the only kind of cooking that I do. And, it’s biblical! (And, yes, I watch Rachel Ray every chance I get.)
Father God, may we take our example from you, spreading your love and care generously and without measure.