Right now our church family is going through a study by Rick Warren called “What On Earth Am I Here For?”, (updated version of Purpose Driven Life), and one of the life purposes he discusses is worship. In this section he explains that worshiping God is about significantly more than just what happens on Sunday morning, but that basically in every moment of our lives we can live out worship by honouring God through whatever we are doing. With hearts turned towards the Lord in gratitude, submission, and openness, our every day activities can bring glory to Him.
This is not a new concept to me, but it has been good today to think on this anew. What activities do I do each day, and are they done in a way that honors God and gives Him praise? I interact with my husband and daughter. I spend hours at work, completing tasks alongside my coworkers and taking care of customers. I take time around our home getting things done. I spend time on my own, relaxing, thinking, unwinding. How much of these activities would change if I set my heart towards God at all times?
Specifically today I have been reflecting on one aspect of my daily life. It may seem like a less significant one to some. However, to me it is a swing zone that I believe can be a place of meaningful daily worship, or can at times be a place of trouble for my heart and my focus.
This place is the kitchen. I love being in the kitchen. It starts in the morning before my little girl is up, when my own body is barely able to be coaxed into moving except by the thought of fixing one of my favourite breakfasts and sitting down alone to read and eat. Then in the evening when I have planned ahead properly (which does not happen each day!) I love preparing a tasty meal for my little family that we can sit down to together. On weekends or days off I often choose to spend some time creating in the kitchen, either recreating a tried and true favourite recipe or experimenting with something new. When the opportunity arises, I love to create special dishes or desserts for friends and family. And in between all of this is the grabbing a snack and cleaning up dishes, the grocery list making and the pantry shelf stocking. The kitchen is probably one of my favourite places to spend time.
Can the activities of the kitchen be done as worship to God? In what ways could my time in the kitchen be honouring to God? What about dishonouring to God?
Let’s start with the negative – A few areas in my own life where the kitchen can be a place that I dishonour God.
Indulgence – One definition I found stated indulgence as “an inability to resist the gratification of whims and desires.” Sometimes what happens in the kitchen is the exact opposite of self-control. Frequent over-eating and poor food choices can easily be justified but are likely not an appropriate way to honour God in the kitchen.
Taking Food for Granted – Having a bounty of healthy food is not something I want to assume as my personal right. But I have to admit it is easy to take my fully stocked fridge and pantry for granted.
Self Focus – The kitchen can easily become a selfish place if I let it. It can be as simple as intentionally only cooking with flavours I enjoy. Or it can be as devious as using my skills in the kitchen as a vehicle for attention, veiling my need for praise in the name of fellowship or service, but secretly soaking up the affirmation and comments when I host or provide food for others.
Self Destruction – The kitchen can easily become (and has been in my life) a place of destruction, where indulgence gives way to a full-blown unhealthy lifestyle. Rather than being a gift and a joy, food can become my master. Physical health, as well as emotional well being and even relationships can be affected in the process.
Thankfully, I also believe wholeheartedly that the kitchen can be a place of life, or worship, of growth and even discipleship. Here are a few ways that the kitchen can be a place for me to honour God.
Gratitude – I am daily thankful for the countless ways in which God provides. One of the more obvious ways is providing food to nourish our bodies. Not only does he provide nutritious food, but such a beautiful variety of flavours, aromas, colours and textures. Even in such things as vegetables and fruits, milk and cheese, bread and meat, we can see what a creative and loving God we have. When we prepare and eat food with gratitude, it brings glory to God.
Enjoyment – Now I know not everyone is like me, but I find immense joy from food! And not just on a wide-scale level, but in the little, subtle details of food. I delight in combining flavours for the first time, letting a new taste roll around inside my mouth, each flavour playing on the others in a unique and delicious way. I love learning new recipes and figuring out why they work and how to tweak the process to change the outcome in this way or that way. I so enjoy the smell of food sizzling, baking or roasting, giving a small preview of the tastes that are to come. And I’m sure like most people, I love those classic meals that fill you up not just with amazing food, but feelings of home and comfort and rest. Food is enjoyable, and I am positive it was designed to be like this by God.
Service and Fellowship – Despite my admission above of struggling with ulterior motives on occasion, I believe using my skills in the kitchen can be a lovely way to serve others and a great opportunity to bring people together. Sometimes it is a community or church event, sometimes it is a family in need, sometimes it is an act of encouragement from one friend to another, but bringing food can be a blessing on many occasions. Likewise, food can draw people together in our home, make people feel loved and at ease, and add a simple comfort to help encourage relationship building and open conversation.
Time with God – I recently watched an old re-run of Home Improvement (stay with me on this) where Tim is telling Jill how working on cars in their garage is where he finds himself getting to think and reflect on his life, process his feelings and become a better man while he works. In a similar way, I would likely say one such place for me is when I’m working away in the kitchen. My hands and eyes are busy chopping, mixing and creating, but my heart and mind are able to find some uninterrupted space to process, to pray, to listen. Often I have said that if I am having a bad day, I need to bake. This may be why. It is a place I can unburden my heart while making a yummy, tasty treat.
What is a swing area in your life? A daily place or activity that perhaps could be transformed into an act of worship if done in a spirit of gratitude, submission and openness? Where can you honour God in your everyday life?