Cooking Lessons

I want to start by saying that I am not, by any means, a good cook. But I was feeling brave that day. I was scrolling through The Pioneer Woman’s website because I have never disliked a recipe I have found on there. That girl knows what she’s doing. So when I came across a recipe titled “Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders,” I was sold by its sheer contrasting nature to my usual dishes.

It started out well. I diced and cooked the onions and formed the patties. Then it came time to add the whiskey. I was cooking on a gas stove, and I knew to turn off the stovetop while I poured the small amount of whiskey in the pan because open flame + alcohol sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Also I read the directions. So I poured and then turned the stove back on. That’s when I knew something went wrong.

I looked down and giant flames were emerging from the frying pan right in front of me. I panicked and screamed and Kevin ran in the kitchen while I picked up the pan. For some reason my first instinct was to throw the flaming pan off the deck while yelling, “Fire in the hole!” but Kevin, full of absurdly rational thinking, advised against this. He said that you were supposed to put baking soda on the flame or something, so I held the flaming pan that I was sure was going to burn our rental house kitchen down while he searched for this magical baking soda.

He never did find the baking soda.

And that’s how we burned our second rental house down.

Kidding. The flame eventually died down and I finished cooking the burgers, which were actually really delicious.

But I learned a few lessons that day:

  1.  Don’t trust Kevin to find anything in our cabinets at a moment’s notice.
  2.  We should really buy a fire extinguisher.
  3.  A flame eventually dies when there is nothing to keep it going.

We are accustomed to hearing about fires in the Bible, often with negative connotations involving hell and fiery furnaces and rains of fire on cities filled with sinfulness. But what about the places where fire is seen as good? What about in Deuteronomy when it says the Lord your God is a consuming fire? What about when we sing that we want the Lord to kindle a fire down in our souls that we can’t contain and can’t control? And remember the time when Paul urges followers of Christ to continue in boldness and fan into flame the gift of God?

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Hmm. Fan into flame the gift of God. My understanding is that Paul is talking about spiritual gifts here. And apparently he wants us to cultivate and kindle those flames of gifts. Paul urges us to keep the flames going strong. 

I have kind of always thought of myself as a Renaissance woman. Not in a haughty, good-at-everything type of way, but in an I'm-okay-at-a-significant-list-of-things way. However, I’ve never thought I am really great at any one thing. I have never experienced that Aha! moment, and I didn’t give much thought about what my spiritual gift(s) might be. I never took the “spiritual gift quiz” in youth group, and I always kind of assumed that people who declared their spiritual gifts were just looking for ways to feel better about themselves (obviously I was skipping over some parts of the Bible).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard and read a lot about spiritual gifts. At first I thought it was purely coincidental, but then it started to feel like God yelling at me to pay attention (I can be pretty stubborn, so sometimes He communicates above a “gentle whisper” with my hard-headed self). I read parts of the Bible about God giving His followers various spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12) and read stories of people implementing their God-given gifts in everyday life. So maybe pastors and teachers and writers aren’t just trying to make us feel better when they speak and teach and write about spiritual gifts, I realized. The Lord opened my eyes to see how He has so divinely orchestrated and gifted talents in each of us, and they shouldn’t be ignored or taken for granted; spiritual gifts should be boldly celebrated and embraced.

So I broke down and took the somewhat cheesy spiritual gifts quiz online. It was 100 questions (which I did not know going into it) because apparently they really wanted to get inside my brain and make me feel like I was taking a midterm.

I had no idea what my results were going to be. I half-expected the outcome to say, “You have zero spiritual gifts. Please try again.” To which I would reply, “You’re not the boss of me!” while slamming my laptop shut and sulking while eating a gallon of salted caramel ice cream.

Instead, the website on my computer screen read, “Wisdom, Knowledge, Teaching” in that order. (Insert look of confusion and creeping-in pride).

But then I thought about how flip-flopped everything is in the kingdom of God and my pride, along with my confusion, quickly evaporated. To be exalted you must be humbled (1 Peter 5:6), to be wise you must be foolish (1 Corinthians 3:18), to be knowledgeable you should know "nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).

I’m not saying a spiritual gifts quiz is 100% accurate or trustworthy, but I do think we should notice how we can best contribute to the kingdom of God and go do it often. We should share stories and encourage constantly because a flame grows weaker when it’s not being kindled. We should use what the Lord has given us to love Him and to love one another and to advance His kingdom. He has gifted each of us in the body of Christ uniquely for the glory of His Name, and I don’t want to miss out on giving Him my best.

I want my flame to contribute to the raging fire.