I work in a kitchen. I am not a Supervisor or Manager. I’m not the most experienced worker, nor am I in any position of prominence. I wash dishes when asked, I cook food when asked, I sweep the floor when asked. I do these things gladly and without hesitation, and I do whatever is asked of me. Not every day is comfortable and not every day feels fruitful. However, at the end of the day, if I completed the work assigned to me, I am happy and satisfied. Then I return home to be with my spouse. The following is a singular message I’ve learned while working in a kitchen.
I’m tasked to clean.
If you’ve ever sought to clean a kitchen, you know it is a significant undertaking. You scrub, rinse, wipe and sweep, but it seems the surfaces become more soiled. As you look closer and closer at the surfaces you strive to sanitize, you see that even your cloth creates streaks and mess because it gets dirty. So, you pour on more and more chemical and water and scrub harder and harder.
There’s something cathartic, satisfying, about cleaning; a sense of accomplishment as you compare spots you haven’t cleaned to where you have. Yet, the closer you look, the more you see. The more you see, the more you work. The more you work, the more futile your work seems. The words of Cohaleth, an ancient philosopher, ring true: “All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.” The more you see when you clean, the more unsatisfied you are by what you see. Because of what you see, the more you hear you’ve done a good job, the more you can’t hear the praise.
The more work we do, and the more we accomplish in our cleaning, the less satisfied we are. Of course, there’s inevitably a moment when we must give up. We can’t scrub forever, and we can’t look with a microscope. Catharsis and satisfaction turn to turmoil when we understand the depths of cleaning truly required. And, if we follow the logic, the train of thought, we conclude: “I can’t clean this place to perfection; this place must be torn down, and be replaced by something clean which cannot be made filthy.”
I’m tasked to prepare ingredients to be cooked.
If you’ve ever worked as a prep cook, you’re familiar with the never-ending work. You fill one container with one food and another container with another food. Then, throughout the day and night, other cooks use up the ingredients you’ve prepared. When you return the next day, you see the dirty and empty dishes which contained what you had prepared. So, you make a list and do what you did yesterday.
Cohaleth, that lover of wisdom, can again speak to this: “There is no remembrance of earlier things; and also of the later things which will occur, there will be for them no remembrance among those who will come later still.” The food you prepared yesterday is gone as if erased. The food you make today will likewise be erased when you return tomorrow. And, if you do not work the next day, someone else inherits your work and the outcome of it.
Yet, as you work, you know you should be happy to do it. You benefit from your work, do you not? Even though your efforts are used up and forgotten, you profit from it. Even though others eat up the fruit of your labour, you buy bread and clothing and pay for your home. But, what is the end of that?
Again, Cohaleth, the ancient eastern king of wisdom, speaks to this:
“Thus I hated all the fruit of my labour for which I had laboured under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labour for which I have laboured by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.”
You prepare food for those who might waste it, either by accident, by the error of another, or by it not being used in the required time limit. But you earn your wages through the preparation of vanity (it is vanity because it never ends and has no end and is not designed to end in the current world system). What do you do with your wages?
You eat, sleep in safety and warmth, clothe your back, entertain yourself, learn what your heart desires. And then what?
– You’ll always need more food.
– You’ll always need safety and warmth.
– Your clothes will always wear out, and you’ll always need more.
– What entertains you today may not entertain you tomorrow, and what entertains you tomorrow may anger you today.
– What you choose to learn today, may be proven wrong tomorrow, and what you desire to learn today may anger you tomorrow.
And then what? You’re in an endless cycle, just as the work I do to prepare food, just as the work I do to clean my workplace.
I’m tasked to heat a sauce.
It was cold at first, so I applied heat to it, and I stirred it.
If you’ve ever heated a cold sauce, you know it can be a long process. If you’ve ever worked for a restaurant, you know that there is a lot of sauce to heat and you’ll need to heat it quickly. There are two ways to heat a sauce after your ingredients are gathered and mixed:
- Apply the heat and continue in your other duties, occasionally mixing the sauce until you think it’s done.
- Apply the heat and continuously mix the sauce until it’s heated through and you know it’s done.
If you pursue the first method, you may forget about the sauce, and it may burn. Also, because you don’t give it consistent attention, it may take much longer to heat than is helpful. So, what you thought was a time-saving method may take longer, and what you do not want to be burned might burn. Yes, you’ve accomplished other tasks while the sauce heats; however, the outcome of your neglect may be what you do not desire.
If you pursue the second method, you have control over the entire cooking process. You can adjust the heat, and stir more or less vigorously as suits the situation. You can see the effects of the heat and know when the heating reaches the moment you’ve sought after. Master chefs will not “set it and forget it” concerning food they know requires attention. The Master Chef will not allow the sauce to burn. He will not take more time than necessary to prepare the food. He will cook it exactly as long as intended, and it will look, taste, and smell exactly as planned. That Master Chef is the Master for a reason! He prepares food which even He Himself will enjoy and partake of, because it reveals His skill and that His reputation is not for nothing.
Yet, whether a man is a Master Chef (you and I are not) or a lowly prep cook, the process of heating the sauce is the same. The same things happen in the pot which the ingredients cook. If you prepare it with the second method, the one the Master Chef uses, you’ll see His wisdom:
First, nothing seems to happen. The heat is on, the ingredients are mixed, but you wouldn’t see, taste or smell anything different. If you touched the sauce with your finger, it would be cold; if you tasted it, it would be cold. It wouldn’t smell any different than when you first mixed the ingredients. Yet, under the surface, at the foundation of the cooking vessel, there is heat, and it can burn if you were to touch it.
Second, as you continue to mix the sauce, you’d notice its consistency begins to change. It would become smoother and less thick. If you touched and tasted it, it would be warm. As it heats, its smell will slowly rise and you would be pleased by the fragrance of the work of your hands.
Third, as you continue to mix the sauce you would see steam begin to rise. The smell is much stronger now, and it’s almost hot to touch or taste. Though many people may already be satisfied and say “It is enough,” and would be happy to eat it, the Master Chef isn’t yet satisfied. In fact, because the sauce is much warmer now than at first, He mixes it more intentionally. He desires every aspect of the sauce to be thoroughly heated. He scrapes the edges of the cooking vessel, so the sauce which clings to the side is not forgotten, and so they are folded into the mix. He scrapes His cooking utensil across the bottom of the cooking vessel to prevent the food He doesn’t want burning, to burn.
Fourth, as the sauce is mixed, and as the steam rises, and the smell, and as the sauce becomes hot, it begins to boil. Yet, the Master Chef knows it’s not ready to serve. There’s a science to cooking, and the science is known by the Master Chef because He employs it. Though the sauce is hot, boils, its fragrance fills the air, and though it would burn the tongue if tasted, it’s not ready. The Master Chef strives for a certain temperature He established in His recipe. The steam and boiling and smell are helpful, but they’re only indicators that the end of cooking is near.
Finally, however the Master Chef measures the temperature, once He reaches it, He turns the heat off and transfers the sauce to a serving container. For anyone who sees the sauce, it is no longer boiling. The surface of it is peaceful. However, if you were to touch it or taste it, it would burn you without a doubt. The Master Chef is ready to serve what He has taken His time to prepare. One final time, we’ll see what Cohaleth says about this:
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under Heaven—
– A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
– A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up.
– A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.
– A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
– A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away.
– A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak.
– A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”
Cohaleth utilized contrasts to demonstrate life and death, death and life. While pondering my own work and the words of Cohaleth, I’ve considered a similar contrast for those who work. There are two types of cook, two types of people:
– Those who pay no attention to the heating, and those who do.
For those who seek to pay attention to the heating:
learn from the Master Chef who controls all things
and prepares His food according to
His own desires and methods.
– Those who do not find satisfaction in Life, and those who do.
For those who seek to find satisfaction in Life:
receive from the One who alone offers life
to those who seek Him.
– Those who can never cease endlessly striving to clean, and those who do.
For those who seek to cease their cleaning:
be cleansed by the One who alone
can cleanse you from hidden stains
and hidden filth.
The Master Chef, the One who offers life to those who seek Him, and the One who can cleanse you from what you cannot see, are all one. Cohaleth sought to know this One, and this is the end of Cohaleth’s wisdom:
“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
Whether you live in China, Bosnia, the UK, Cambodia, India, Rwanda, New Zealand, Ireland, the US, Canada, Israel, or anywhere else where mankind may dwell, call out to the Lord. You have stains which you cannot see, whether you’ve known the Lord for decades or for a moment or not at all. You have stains which, unless they are cleansed by God, you will find that your lack of satisfaction in this life will prevent you from finding true Life in Him. And, unless God cleanses you and grants you true Life, you will not escape the heat of judgement which the Lord has been preparing the world for.
How can you receive life unless you learn from the Author of Life? How can you repent of your sin unless you learn what sin is? How can you have faith in the only One who can cleanse you unless you know Who He is? And how can you learn from Him unless you repent of your sins and put your faith in Him to teach you, cleanse you, and grant you repentance? Agree with the logic of the one who strives to clean and cannot find an end to what needs cleaning: “I can’t clean this place to perfection; this place must be torn down, and be replaced by something clean which cannot be made filthy. I must be born again because my life until now is permanently stained. But I cannot make myself born again, He who creates children must do it for me and to me.”
As the Master Chef stirs the pot to heat it, the Lord prepares the world for judgement.
- As the Master Chef scrapes the sides of the cooking vessel to ensure not one single portion of sauce is left unheated, so the Lord will ensure and guarantee that not one being will escape the wrath of His judgement when the time arrives.
As the Master Chef watches and waits for the right moment to turn the heat off and transfer the sauce to a serving vessel, so will God transfer every person to the place of their judgement if they do not belong to Him.
- And The Lord will serve every person justice instead of mercy if they do not seek to belong to Him, to be cleansed by Him, to receive life from Him.
Hear the words of God which He spoke to His students when they, like you, were troubled to hear He would be far from them as you are now far from Him:
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.”
(The Gospel of John, chapter 14 — read online at BibleGateway.com,
or let us know if you need a Bible; we will help you find the word of God where you live.)
He has spoken, He will surely do what He said He will do. Seek Him now, while He may be found. He will judge the world in righteousness, so seek to receive the righteousness Jesus Christ, the Son of God, offers you.