Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
That’s what Jesus wants for us: that we may see the goodness of the Lord, that we may have no lack and that He may fill us with good things.
There are several cooking shows on television which depict a well-respected chef arriving at a struggling restaurant with significant problems to see if it can be turned around, rescued. Usually, there are problems with the appearance; like build up of dirt and grime and ages of deferred maintenance that barely scratch the surface of the full extent of the issues within the restaurant’s inner workings; chaos, conflict, complacency. All of these are manifested in the food the restaurant serves to the customers it still manages to attract.
The rescue chef takes a tour of the place to get an overview of where the most work is needed. After getting a general idea of the challenges that face him, the rescue chef orders a variety of menu items to sample. And it’s not at all out of the ordinary to see that look of disgust on their face when they spit something out and verbally attack the restaurant owner, “Did you taste that?!”
I’d like to take a leap from the transformation taking place on tv to the condition of the heart.
It is a mess, just like those restaurants and their owners. Plagued with issues that are often neglected far too long, desperately in need of a new lease on life and some major adjustments. We are people walking around on this earth producing proverbial dishes we have served to others that we didn’t even taste for ourselves.
The unrecognized issues inside our hearts that we neglect to resolve will ultimately flow out from us and season our lives: our relationship with Christ and our relationship with others. Every encounter we have is an opportunity to serve something from within us. We either fill others with good things, or we fill them with things that are not nourishing and will not sustain life in a healthful way.
There is hope though, if we’re willing to make the difficult and uncomfortable adjustments needed in order to turn our lives around, bring about positive change in our lives that then gives us a fresh opportunity to reach the lives of the people we encounter and ‘serve’. This hope starts demolition and gets to work on renovations. It’s hope that says if God fills His children with good things; I want to do the same for others and I’m willing to do the work it takes to get there.
When it comes to rethinking what we’ve been serving and how we can build self-awareness in the future, I think there are two things we might practice in life as you do in cooking.
1) Season as you go: It’s much easier to know how much salt should go on an onion sautéing in a pan than it is to know how much salt to put in an 8 quart pot of soup and 2) practice tasting while you cook; a way of cooking in which you taste and adjust seasoning as you add layers to your dish. If you taste frequently, you can easily tell if something needs to be adjusted in a recipe. So, in other words, if you start dishing out anger or bitterness or unfair judgement, it’s much easier to fix now than to ignore the problems and let them compound and try to fix a whole lot of issues at one time.
The type of commitment required in one of these restaurant makeovers is an all-or-nothing type of commitment. One that says I recognize now how I’ve been wrong, how much I need change, whether I am willing to ask for help when needed and repent to make things right with those I’ve wronged in order to turn it all around.
In Luke 14, Jesus told the Parable of the Wedding Feast.
I think that whenever you see the words in Scripture, “Jesus told a parable”, you can exchange it for this phrase, “Jesus saw a teaching opportunity” and then challenge yourself to understand what he’s teaching. In this parable, Jesus warned the people against placing themselves in a place of honor in order to avoid the shame of being reminded how unworthy you really are. In verse 11, it says For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then Jesus also suggested etiquette for the guest list: Verse 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, because they cannot repay you.
He continues the parable telling of a master who planned a great banquet and invited many. At the time for the banquet he sent his servant to signal the dinner was ready. But all the people began to make excuses to explain why they couldn’t or wouldn’t keep their commitment to attend. When the servant reported this to his master, he sent the servant to the city streets to bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.
After this, there was still room. So the master sent the servant again, this time to search farther, in the highways and hedges to compel people to come in, so that the master’s house would be filled.
In these parables Christ shares who is welcome to feast with Him, and what He will stop at to see His banquet tables filled. Everyone. And Nothing.
You are invited.
The invitation to His table is not extended with the intent to be repaid. Christ invites us to His table to freely give of himself to nourish us, to satisfy us and to give us strength. We are the poor, crippled, lame and blind. Yet He welcomes us to a place of honor.
You are compelled to Christ’s table.
If when you are invited, you make excuses or find other “more important” things to do than to sit in fellowship at the feet of Jesus, even though it costs us nothing, He will continue the search for people until His table is filled.
When Christ sends word for us to “Come”. He expects us to bring only ourselves, with our humility in tow. Likewise, when we invite others to our table, we must be willing to bring those who have nothing, those who can do nothing for us in return, those who do nothing to lift our station.
If we don’t accept the invitation, we cannot taste and see that the Lord is good. We cannot be filled and satisfied unless we “Come”. But it’s God’s great desire that we do come and sit at his feet, filled with His good things and with his living water so that we’ll never thirst again.
The best restaurants are those that have embedded themselves in the community: they take care of their customers as though they were family. They feed into the lives of their people, supporting fundraisers and local activities, they are central in mobilizing to serve the hungry when there are crises in their hometown; like natural disasters and they also step up to an unseen plate on a daily basis to quietly care for their people, covering meals of first responders, veterans and taking care of their workers. In summary, the best restaurants are those that know the most important thing about feeding people, is the people.
In Zechariah 7, the town sent a delegation to confer with the priests. (They held a board meeting) to pose this question: “Should we plan for a day of mourning and abstinence, as we have been doing all these years?”
Zechariah prophesied God’s retort to all the people and the priests: “When you held days of fasting and feasting all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? While the people were interested in rule-bound religion, God was interested in people. He told the people: There’s nothing new to say on the subject. Don’t you still have the message of the earlier prophets? The message hasn’t changed. God said:
“Treat one another justly.
Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other.
Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor.”
One of the things the Restaurant Rescue Chef always focuses on is the story of the restaurant owner. What made them open a restaurant? What is their story? What is it that feeds their passion to continue trying their best to serve people even in the face of a failing restaurant? Who are there customers and how do they treat them? Perhaps for all of us, what got us to the point we are is very different from each other’s stories. But our future is the same because we have hope.
Hope that we do not have to stay as we are. Hope that we are never past the point of redemption. Hope that we will be called to “Come”. Hope for the day we will sit at the feet of Jesus, undistracted. Hope that when we do come to the table, we are trailing an army of friends and family we have found, invited and filled with the love Jesus poured into us.
Now, go and share: Whenever someone asks me for my recipe, I’m always willing to share it. Good recipes are worth remembering, worth sharing, worth tasting. In Judges 2:10, the people forgot the Lord because no one was sharing or passing down their knowledge. May we never neglect to share the goodness of God.