Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Recipes, part 2

“The works of His hands are faithful and just…” –Psalm 111:7

Over the years I have had the privilege of dining at the tables of some of the world’s best cooks: my mom, Jeanie, Mamaw, Granny, Elizabeth, Holly, and my Aunt Chloe are and were all phenomenal cooks. From crawfish ettouffee to sweet tea, I can still taste their meals. They were good cooks for two reasons: they knew how to follow a recipe and they knew how to apply that recipe to fit their guests.

Faithful parents do the same thing. They follow God’s plans and recipes in raising their kids and make those principles fit each unique child. That's what we're teaching the families involved with us in Shelterwood.

With all due respect to these and other phenomenal cooks, the best meal I remember eating wasn’t prepared by any of them. As a matter of fact, it came out of a can!

Almost 20 years ago, I headed up a 5 day canoe trip on the Buffalo National River in Northen Arkansas. I took 22 teenagers and Staff from Shelterwood on a 22 mile canoe trip in the middle of July. For 5 days we slept outside on gravel bars and cooked our meals on open fires. The canoeing was perfect as the water level wasn’t so high that it made the canoeing difficult but not so low that we had to drag canoes. We fished and swam and had a blast. But, we also nearly ran out of food (my fault) and five days is a long time for a bunch of guys to go without junk food. So, when we reached our last camping spot, I quickly prepared the dinner I had saved for the last meal: Dinty Moore beef stew. I emptied all the cans in a huge pot, heated it over the fire and we all ate till we were full. We had never tasted anything so good. Every bite was precious.

Though I didn't make the stew, I was more than happy to follow someone else’s recipe and deliver the meal in a can. That’s so important if we’re to be a faithful parents. We don't have to blaze our own trail and come up with our own recipe. We don't have to fret and worry and “control’ all the ingredients that are a part of our child’s growth. Like the Dinty Moore, we release, submit and trust another cook. When I opened the cans, they weren’t full of sand and grass clippings. They were full of nourishing food. God promises that if we prayerfully submit ourselves to His plans for our children, that He’ll produce circumstances in their lives to make them into a good meal. There are no guarantees since there’s still that element of choice- but God is faithful to love gently and intently.

Good cooks make the recipe fit the occasion. I didn't serve liver and onions to the guys that last night of the canoe trip. Honestly, I think I could have served boiled shoe leather and nails that day and the group would have loved it. But the recipe fit the need. If we’ll get out of God’s way, He’ll make the circumstance fit our teen every time. They may be tough and challenging and sometimes down right hurtful, but they’re guaranteed to be loving and helpful. Too often we jump in to take the blow and we rob our kids of the life lessons they need and even desire.

May we be faithful parents that aren't too proud to submit ourselves to the Master Chef in letting him cook and create that wonderful meal we call our children.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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