He escorts me to the banquet hall;
it’s obvious how much he loves me. – Solomon 2:4
The path to discipleship – or the path of discipleship – has much less to do with a conversion, or a born-again experience than it does with the tens, scores, hundreds, and thousands of small, repetitive, life-shaping decisions and actions that make up our daily walk.
If you’re a regular reader (why wouldn’t you be?) you may be wondering “what’s up?” with this year’s almost-weekly gourmet food initiative post? I can just hear the protests: “We’re not saying we don’t enjoy the devotional content, but we want pictures of food!”
Well, between the ice, the snow, Rebekah’s back, and some scheduling anomalies, we missed a couple of weeks. So – yesterday morning – I dropped a pile of cookbooks on the kitchen counter and said, “Today’s the day; pick anything you want.”
ZITI! Rebekah hardly hesitated. She looked at a handful of titles, flipped through a few indices, paused on a couple of pages, and quickly landed on Baked Ziti, a complex but amazing recipe from “The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook.”
This is not just any Ziti. The Cook’s Illustrated” rendition involves heavy cream, crushed garlic, three kinds of cheese (Cottage, Parmesan, Mozzarella), fresh basil, a carefully crafted tomato sauce, and much more. Additionally, I prepared fresh vegetables, and flash-fried chicken breasts that I had seasoned, and pounded to an even thickness.
As you can guess, dinner Monday evening required a great deal of prep. I’ll share a gallery of pictures outlining the process after my sign-off.
EXCELLENCE is a SERIES of SMALL DECISIONS: I have a whole theology constructed around this idea of great food, careful preparation, and giving from the very best of ourselves. “Theology,” by the way, simply means God-thought, or thinking about the idea, and the practice, of God.
Theology is on my mind every day, because God thought frames how I am determined to live. And articulating the idea of God thought is creeping more and more into my writing as I’m preparing to lead a spiritual retreat in Pennsylvania just a couple of weeks after Easter.
One thing I want to stress is how living well is seldom a result of one, spectacular, all-or-nothing event. Instead, the life that matters tends to be an aggregation of the small things.
Living well is seldom a result of one, spectacular, all-or-nothing event. Instead, the life that matters tends to be an aggregation of the small things.
If I’m cooking amazing food, I tend to spend a good hour or more carefully selecting, preparing, and measuring out the ingredients. Likewise, if we want to be faithful, growing, cutting edge, EXCELLENT disciples of Jesus, then the path to that end turns out to be a long series of smaller, critical, repetitive, life-shaping decisions and actions.
Chopping a half-cup of fresh basil takes around five minutes; measuring out olive oil, cream, oregano, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other ingredients takes around 15-minutes; shredding, grating and measuring various cheeses requires another ten minutes; pre-cooking the penne pasta, just so, then draining it and setting it aside, accounts for ten more; making the bechamel sauce demands careful attention; cutting the fresh vegetables ticks off for another five minutes; pounding the chicken, preparing the bread-crumbs, setting the table; decanting the wine…
None of these individual elements (don’t forget to pre-heat the oven, put ice in the glasses, put butter in a dish…) alone is that difficult, or that impressive. But they are all completely important, and critical to the presentation and enjoyment of a wonderful feast. Every action – and it took me from mid-afternoon until 6:00 to pull this off – supports the foundational intention and commitment to serve Rebekah an amazing dinner.
DISCIPLESHIP: The path to discipleship – or the path of discipleship – has much less to do with a conversion, or a born-again experience than it does with the tens, scores, hundreds, and thousands of small, repetitive, life-shaping decisions and actions that make up our daily walk.
But, listen! We have been invited to the banqueting table. It is so obvious how much God loves us.
So let’s DO SOMETHING about it! – DEREK