Just so you know, I’m awful in the kitchen. My great culinary feats include turning instant rice into a horrible pudding-like substance (apparently it’s not meant for the rice cooker) and prematurely mixing a cherry dump cake which ended up looking like vomit lasagna. You’re welcome for the visual. But the biggest catastrophe was mistaking paprika for nutmeg… in my Christmas egg nog. It’s relatively safe to say that if Riley didn’t cook for us, we would live on cereal and toast. Cooking is hard: one wrong spice, and the recipe is shot.
My heart has been in a tender place for the past year. I have stopped hiding from the horde of fears that assault me, peeking at them one by one for as long as I can stand it, sometimes with professional help. I have stepped back from needing ministry to feel worthwhile as a human and as a Christian. And most of all, I’ve allowed the gospel to begin invading my life in all its mess and glory.
The gospel is hilarious, scandalous, tragic, beautiful, hardy, and a million other things, too. We talk a lot about it in our churches but tend not to understand it. (Which is fine, because it’s a massive concept, but it’s not fine, because it’s a costly one worth the effort.) The gospel is this: Christ loved me and called me to Himself, trading my worst for His best once and forever, period. Everything He is, I now am and will always be.
I used to think the gospel was only the starting line for believers, that we were meant to eventually grow up past the point of needing it. But then Romans 1:15—written to Christians—says that Paul was eager to preach the gospel to them. Oh! So the good news wasn’t just for me ten years ago or yesterday; it’s for me today and tomorrow and a thousand years from now. The gospel isn’t some old stale crust in the corner of our faith. It’s fresh and vibrant, able to season every area of our lives.
When I struggle with shame, the gospel is the spice of grace, pouring dignity back into my soul. For the sad days, it is peace, covering me with deep comfort. Even in times of rejoicing, the good news bolsters my song and makes it fuller, deeper, more unique. Sin is an opportunity for the spices of repentance and forgiveness, mellowing the taste of pride. When anger bubbles against injustice, the gospel pushes holy action. It quiets my fears, fills up my inadequacies, soothes the hard longings, and turns into an aroma that infuses me down to my toes. And, unlike salt, you can never have too much of the good news.
For the days you mistake paprika for nutmeg, the gospel is sufficient. For the days you want to scream at God and quit the whole Christian scene for good, the gospel is sufficient. And for all of the days in between, you who are so greatly loved by and pleasing to your Father, the gospel is sufficient. The more creative you get with how to cook with it, the better flavor your reality will have. Isn’t it time to taste and see that the Lord really is good?