I’m obsessed with cookbooks. Beautiful cookbooks. Set me loose in a bookstore for even twenty minutes and you will find me directly in front of the table of best selling cookbooks – carefully turning the glossy pages. I especially adore the ones that have fabulous photos of exquisitely coiffed celebrity chefs smiling over steaming plates piled high with pasta slathered in cream sauce. The recipes detail directions with exact measurements for each and every ingredient. No worries about messing things up. Instead, specific instructions mixed with quality ingredients assuring certain success.
Wouldn’t it be great if life was like a recipe in a cookbook? Step by step instructions for a successful marriage. Perfected formulas for raising healthy kids. But the reality is that there are no measurable, perfected recipes for getting through life. Real life is often much more like my kitchen while bread making: messy and sometimes disappointing. In carefully measuring yeast, I discover I am a smidge short. Flour floats carelessly to the floor leaving a spray paint pattern on my bare feet. As I yank and pull while kneading the bread, a forlorn salt clump is found hiding. And then finally when all should be nearing summation, I peek in to check on the dough resting quietly under the kitchen towel and realize the air is too dry to accommodate the rise before dinner. Not exactly what you’d see in the glossy cookbooks.
Honestly, I don’t think God ever meant for life to be as simple and neat as those pages I adore. In fact, if you think about the examples of real people God set forth in the Bible, none are as fabulously slick as the glossy cookbooks. Take Adam and Eve, for example. There they are in the Garden, traipsing around in the ideal setting with the ideal relationship and they still manage to make a mess of things. Why, even their kids develop the kind of relational issues that would have landed them on the front page of The National Enquirer. The bible is fraught with muddled stories of messy, unkempt characters. People like me – and maybe like you. Not exactly glossy perfection.
Gratefully, God’s relationship with us is not about carefully measured ingredients. Instead, He pours out His love endlessly on our behalf, regardless of how we measure up. And that is something I love deeply about God. He cares so much about my life and yours that He gives us grace. And with the truth of that amazing gift comes joy. Joy in being loved for who I am, where I am. It is that love that perfects me. Transforming my very real, often messy life – into something unbelievably beautiful.