Falafel, known as the hamburger of the Middle East, is the most popular fast food in the region, and one fine Saturday in January, it was considered a good option for lunch…or so I thought. I attended a pan of cooking falafel while my family enjoyed some sunshine outside. My eldest daughter soon pressed her presence beside me, making the benign operation of a spatula a more challenging maneuver. She immediately spoke the mantra familiar to most mothers, “Mom, I’m hungry.”
Spatula raised as well as eyebrows, I gave a meaningful glance toward a plate which held five freshly made falafel patties directly in front of my apparently famished child. I bemoaned, “If only there were food directly in front of you.”
“Mom,” my daughter responded matter-of factly, “You know I can’t eat food like that.”
Immediately, I realized, this is how we sound to God. We play in the backyard of His world, feel a need, and then come into His presence. We begin our conversation with need and end with complaint. He has in fact been thinking of us all the while we had no thought of Him. He knew as we were playing we would become hungry, and he has prepared food for us.
How often do we complain of hunger, but refuse to eat the meal set before us? A meal full of nutrients and diversity of flavor? He sets before us self-denial. “I can’t eat that!” He sets before us forgiveness. “I can’t eat that!” He sets before us patience. “I can’t eat that!” We ask for our desires and needs to be fulfilled immediately, but with a palate that would leave us soft and weak.
It is the Lord’s playground; it is the Lord’s kitchen, and we indeed are called to be a part of His beloved, cherished family. He has every thought of us and wants us to come eat with Him. I even think He delights in sometimes serving us cake and ice cream, knowing it doesn’t build strength, but enchants the soul. However, He loves us too much to allow us to live on these.
After my daughter rejected the food I set before her, I asked myself, “What has God provided that I am refusing to eat?” As we eat at His table, grimacing at new and unusual flavors, our tastes will begin to expand in epicurean measure. What we once could not tolerate begins to make us feel deeply nourished, and to our surprise, we even begin to crave it. The Lord has been known to me as my Creator, Redeemer, and my Great Physician, but now I know Him also as my Master Chef.