Last night was our turn to host community group. I love our community group - it's small, personal, honest, and fun. We meet once a week, but also hang out together a lot during the week, either in book clubs or at church or random drop-ins at work. Honestly, some of my very good friends are in the group, so it's as much a time of friendship as it is a time of study and prayer. (Plus, their children are ridiculously cute and I love playing with them.)
So anyway, for dinner I decided to make barbecue beef and beans based on a recipe I found through Pinterest (this woman made something in her Crock-Pot every single day for an entire year). It sounded tasty and easy, and I haven't made it for group before, so I bought the ingredients and set out my slow cooker last night to remind myself to get it started this morning.
Yesterday morning, around 6:30am while John was getting ready for work, I began to gather the ingredients: barbecue baked beans, an onion, some garlic, barbecue sauce, a 3 lb. cut of chuck roast, etc. I put the chuck roast in the slow cooker, cut up the onions, and poured the can of barbecue baked beans over the roast, just as the recipe stated. Then I opened the barbecue sauce....and I realized it was not the same flavor as the beans. I hesitated. Then, in what I can only describe as unconscious act of self-sabotage, I watched myself pour the contents of the bottle into the slow cooker, covering the beans and chuck roast completely.
I froze. So, maybe this will make a new, more awesome flavor, I thought optimistically. Or maybe each flavor will be ruined by an ingredient in the other, making it completely and utterly inedible. I stood there for a moment trying to figure out exactly how bad the situation was. I've never made barbecue anything, and I rarely cook red meat (not because I'm a meat snob...I just don't know how to prepare it right). After 10-15 seconds of deliberation, I decided that the flavor medley would be nothing less than earth-shatteringly horrible. How on earth could I have purchased maple bacon baked beans and Southern-style barbecue sauce without realizing the consequences?! Oh, the humanity!
And guys, I want to be honest with you. I found myself praying for the barbecue sauce.
No, really. Lord, I said, I think I screwed this up, and I don't have a plan "B." We're on a tight budget and I don't really have the money or the patience to go out and buy more stuff. So, I kinda need this to taste good and not make anyone sick, ok? I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.
And although I feel silly announcing that I prayed a pitiful blessing over the pot of chuck roast and baked beans, I confess that almost immediately the verse I'd memorized for last week's Bible study pushed it's way through the self-pity and guilt.
"For God has not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
And it clicked. Was I really going to spend the rest of my day nervous about the quality of one meal? I mean, I couldn't exactly taste-test a pot of raw meat and beans, and I'd have to wait at least 8 hours before attempting to try it, so I could either throw it all away or move on with my day hoping for the best and realizing that even if it tasted funky, I was serving it to my community group. As in, the people who love me and pray for me and text me when I'm sick to make sure I don't need any chicken noodle soup or popsicles. The people whose children I love, and whose houses I've been to multiple times. The people who are sharing life with me because they are passionate about the Gospel and about lifting one another up in fellowship and prayer, not because they like the taste of barbecue beef and beans. Not because they're food connoisseurs seeking only the best and most delectable dinners available (though they're all fantastic cooks). Not because of anything I do, but because they are good people who love Christ and live in community with other believers.
So I finally realized the worst that could happen: I'd serve a sub-par meal to a group of friends, who probably wouldn't even say anything about it and forget within a week what we'd even had for dinner. Yep. That was it. I've been so afraid of "losing approval" from people, and from Christ, that I'd completely overlooked the fact that you don't earn Christ's love, you just have it, freely given. And those who love Christ are typically pretty good at loving the same way (even if it means pretending to enjoy a meal of odd-tasting barbecue). If Christ's love was dependent upon me and my actions, I'd be in a lot of trouble. Thankfully, Christ loves me completely, eternally, and sacrificially.
So today, I am basking in the reality that my salvation is not dependent on the quality of my cooking, or my housekeeping, or my ability to do laundry or yoga or mountaintop yodeling (ok, not actually a skill but you get my point). My salvation is dependent upon Christ, who has already accomplished His goal when He came to earth as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, including every single one of mine. I need to spend my time in adoration of Christ, not in fear of a potentially disappointing meal.
p.s. The meal was fine. I guess the two flavors sort of melded together into a fairly mild and tasty barbecue. A couple of people even went back for seconds :)