I’m not a cook. Food is fuel to me, not something to be fussed about. I make simple meals – grilled chicken with steamed veggies, for example – and I’m satisfied. I’ve discovered that I enjoy hosting parties, but since I’m not a cook, I usually serve appetizers and call it good. So on Ash Wednesday, when I realized that there was no one scheduled to make dinner for Messy Church on Thursday, I panicked. We were expecting 15 or so people, and they would be expecting food. What in the world was I going to do?
I didn’t have time to make a million phone calls to recruit help with dinner. I thought about just picking up pizza on the way, but we’ve been trying to offer healthy choices for our families and kids at Messy Church. I realized that I was going to have to make the meal. I was going to have to cook.
For most other people in the world, this would not have been a big deal. But for me, it was a nightmare. I anxiously perused my cookbooks (people give them to me, not knowing that they’ll never get used.) I obsessed about how many choices I would need to offer. Even after I settled on 2 types of chili (the simplest recipes I could find,) I stressed about what would happen if people didn’t like them. Then, since I’ve never made a meal for more than 4 people, I got anxious about how to serve such a large quantity of food. I had a crock pot, but it was the small version. And how was I going to keep a second pot of chili hot, driving all the way across town? Finally I took my crazy self to Target and impulsively bought a new, portable crock pot guaranteed to serve 9 people. Perfect.
Throughout the afternoon I doubted myself, alternately panicking and cursing myself for not going the pizza route. I made a mess of my kitchen, screamed at my dog who was underfoot, and just barely escaped injury from the oven (corn muffins at the last minute.) We arrived at Messy Church, crock pots in hand, and dinner was served. I said a heartfelt prayer to God that the dinner wouldn’t suck (language cleaned up for the kiddos) and then held my breath as people went through the line.
You know how the story ends. Dinner was fine. Both chilis were well received. No one got sick. No one went hungry.
But it was so hard to see that from the front end. I was trying something new. I was doing something that I wasn’t already good at. I had no idea how it would turn out. And it made me feel out of control.
But then, I realized, that’s what abundant life is all about. It’s about leaving the safety of the guaranteed outcome, and embracing new life, new possibilities, new hope.
Blessings on your risk-taking. If anyone wants some chili, I’ve got leftovers!