One of the TV shows my family enjoys watching is called “Chopped.” This cooking competition features four chefs who each must prepare an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. At the beginning of each course, the chefs are presented with a basket of three "mystery ingredients" that must be included. The additional twist in the show is that while the ingredients are indeed edible, they are not obviously complementary.
My favorite moment in the show is when the chefs open their baskets. Reactions run the gamut of excitement to disgust and confidence to befuddlement. There are often smiles, grimaces, head nods, and deep sighs.
The show then chronicles how the chefs work through the challenge of creating amazing dishes incorporating what has been placed before them. At the end of the each course, guest judges “chop” the chef who presented the least appetizing dish. The last chef standing wins $10,000.
While watching a recent episode, it occurred to me that sometimes, we are the ones handed "mystery ingredients." This basket of positive and negative circumstances in our faith journey can evoke the same breadth of responses as the chefs: excitement to disgust and confidence to befuddlement. And, yes, there are smiles, grimaces, head nods, and deep sighs… and tears. Under our breath is simple prayer, "What am I supposed to do with that?"
As I reflected on some of the “mystery ingredients” in my life (and in the lives of those around me), I began to sink into a sea of questions. Before I was completely submerged, the Holy Spirit threw me a life preserver in the form of a Scripture: Romans 8:28. In the Amplified Translation it reads, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” I grabbed onto the phrase, “All things.” “ALL things,” I thought. “That means even the 'mystery ingredients' in our lives." Hope rescued me and carried me to shore.
Be encouraged. If a basket of “mystery ingredients” is before you, know that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (MSG). Receive His peace and rest in His embrace at this moment, “…confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” (VOICE). Amen.