Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Beauty of Food: Connecting the Crop with the Creator

     Food Theory is something that has interested me for some time now. Food is all around us. We need it. It is one thing that connects all humans together. We may have different beliefs, appearances, goals, dreams, different tastes in the food we eat, but we all eat food. A perfect dinner for me probably looks a lot different than a perfect dinner for some one in India, or China, or Russia. Our taste for food has been largely created by our childhood. Whether it had a positive or negative impact, the food you ate as a kid helped shape your outlook on food. (Ex. To this day I hate vegetable beef stew and love raisins, just like I did when I was a 4.)
   There are a few things that unite all humans. Well actually there are many---We all have DNA, we need air to breathe, our bodies contain organs, etc. But what I am talking about are goals. wants. objectives.
Humans want to
     -Laugh together with others
     -Be a part of something bigger (family, country, world etc.)
     -Eat with one another
    Reminisce over your favorite childhood memories. More than likely one or more of them had to do with one or more of the above listed items. Maybe it's your family's Christmas get-together where your Aunt always brought mac & cheese or celebrating New years in Greece with believers from Iran or enjoying Persian food and playing spoons or my brother convincing me he heard from his nose, not his ears as we ate cookies in a hotel, or Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Birthdays, vacations… The list of my favorites goes on and on. Nearly all of these included 2 or even 3 of the the 3 things listed above. Those are the type of moments that are engrained in our heads. 
    I believe that many still enjoy those family favorite recipes they grew up on because it conjures up those memories of the times when life was more simple and care free. It brings feelings of hope. When you were still a child anything was possible. Today you may want to be an astronaut, but tomorrow you may want to be a dancer. Anything was possible and nothing was set in stone. There wasn't an annoying alarm clock disturbing your sleep to notify you it is time for you to go to work to earn money to pay bills. At 5 years old, life was simple. While everyone may not have had an easy childhood, most were not plagued with the thoughts and worries of the cost of car insurance, filing taxes and health care cost.
    There is also a spiritual aspect to food. It is beautiful parallel to God. For example let's have broccoli represent God and sweets represent any "idol" in your life. (An idol is anything that takes more importance and priority in your life than God. This could be TV, a boyfriend, your job, a sport or anything.) Some people refuse to eat certain veggies like broccoli because they had a negative experience with it as a child. For some kids the only way they know broccoli is frozen and then cooked to a mush topped with velveeta cheese. So when they grow up and their body is craving the nutrients of broccoli, their taste buds enjoy sweets more. They eat sweets, which satisfies their cravings for a moment, but their body still has a void of nutrients. We all need food, just like we need God. If someone has a negative encounter with church, they might develop a skewed persona of who God is. They fill the gap with things of the world hoping to fill the void in their heart but what they really need is God. God/ Healthy food may seem "boring" but that's because you haven't truly experienced it! When you get in the word of God and compare it to itself you can see all of the levels and layers of depth and how it all compliments itself. This can be true of healthy food; It can be exciting too! When you add varying levels of bold ingredients, it creates a beautiful dish.
     Food memories are strong. Maybe someone in your family had a secret recipe. For my family, that recipe would be Grandma Bright's Cherry "Cheese Cake". She eventually gave my dad the recipe but even if you follow it to the "T", it isn't the same. No one knows exactly what it is that is different about it, but it just isn't the same as her's. One thing is for sure, if we ever come up with the same flavor we will know it. We remember what things taste like, and when we stumble across the same taste we know it. If you love Sheridan's Custard than when you taste Sheridan's, you will know it. Memories of images can be blurred. Memories of what some one said are not usually remembered in their exact context. Memories of taste leave an impact. You don't just forget what blackberries taste like and mix up that flavor with cherries. Taste is distinct and vivid.
     I think this is why Psalm 34:8 says, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" When someone gets a taste for the Lord they will remember it. Just like when you get a taste for say blackberries you can remember it. One can get an idea of what a blackberry tastes like, but until they try it for themselves they won't truly understand. It may be years before they have a blackberry again, but if someone tries to sell them an orange as a blackberry they can go back to that day when they first tasted a blackberry and say, "No. I have tasted what it is like, and this is not it." Berry with me (sorry I couldn't resist) through this comparison. The blackberry represents God. You can try to describe God by comparing him to other things, but God is God. They have to "taste" the Lord for themselves to truly grasp what it is all about. Down the road you may stray from the Lord, but you can tell when it is the Lord or not. God says in Zechariah 10:9 "Although I scattered my people in distant countries they won’t forget me." He satisfies but leaves a craving for more of Him. If someone tries to sell you something else as God it won't be the same. While yes, each blackberry varies in exact sweetness/tartness/etc. it still tastes like a blackberry, Just like each time you encounter God it will still be God. It may feel different. Your taste may have changed, but blackberries have remained the same. God does not change. We see and experience different aspects of His character at different times but He was, is and will always be I AM.
      Food like the Bible is fuel. It gives the supplies to go and do. When we fill ourselves up with knowledge of God and do nothing, it is useless. It fills us up, but when it isn't being used, what is the point? James 2;14-26 talks about faith being dead without works. "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:20). Food is fuel. It satisfies our hunger and enables us to go and do. When we don't do anything, the food we collect in our stomachs begins to collect in our bodies. Eventually it will lead the body towards death. Food is to fuel us to be action oriented! 
     Am I the only one who finds this amazing? The Lord of the universe could have created something mundane and simple for us to need to survive. Instead He gave us food with complex, contrasting flavors that we can enjoy and create with. God is creative. Just look at all of creation! He is trying to get our attention and show you how crazy He is for you. He has been trying to show you three times every day when you sit down to eat. He has given us this great thing that we can use to make connections with and understand Him on a deeper level. It's just that we haven't always noticed the signs of His love. He has made it all to shine the glory of Him, The King.  

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