God sees past our failures to hearts that He loves.
Earlier in the afternoon, my amazingly gifted wife Laurie successfully defended her doctoral dissertation and was recognized, for the very first time, by her board chair as Dr. McCracken. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, who confirmed this personally, my love language is gift-giving, which supplements one of my favorite hobbies, cooking. So, off to the local Fresh Market I went, hand-selecting the two finest specimens of filet mignon, fresh asparagus, and the largest potatoes I could find. That night I did everything right, got the filets to room temperature, dry brined each steak, reverse-seared the meat by starting them in the oven at a lower temperature, and then finishing on a cast-iron skillet. With both ovens employed, and two stovetops active, I owned that kitchen like Guy Fieri until it was time to butter the potatoes for that crisp skin, then I turned into Julia Child! In my head, my wife would soon be cutting into her medium steak, steam rising from the tender pink filet, and she would smile and say, “this is even better than Ruth’s Chris Restaurant, thank you.” That vision went up with the smoke coming from the skillet when our vent failed to work, resulting from a previous kitchen fire. The garlic basil butter I added increased the amount of smoke, and with no vent in the kitchen, I literally could not see the steaks. Blowing profusely, I thrust a thermometer into one of the steaks and was shocked the temperature was only 130, not the desired 160, so I kept flipping and counting and checking, even using another thermometer in case the first was faulty. Going with my gut, I pulled the skillet off the stove and placed it on the island cutting board, and waited for the smoke to clear. Once I could see the steaks, I moaned; they were no longer steaks but charred disks of burned cow meat; both thermometers were broken! Smoke alarm going off in the living room, I had the back deck door, and garage doors opened, fans on, as I made my way with plates of disgrace to be presented on the table. Looking at my wife, I apologized and bowed my head as she prayed for our meal. “Father,” she started, “please be with Tom and help him to realize that the time he spent preparing this meal means more to me than anything else” after she had finished praying, she lifted her head and reassured me, “it’s ok, I love you.”
I am confident that whoever you are, there have been times when your final product looked, or tasted, nothing like you envisioned or dreamed. Perhaps even as you evaluate your life recently, you might confess who you are is not who you dreamed you would be. It may be that you don’t think you’re making that much of a difference for God, that you’re not doing, investing, going, or serving as much or as often as you had planned. Or that what you’ve done for God isn’t’ as great as others that seem to be accomplishing some fantastic things for the kingdom, making steaks while you serve charred patties. But, don’t you think that God sees your motivations, your efforts, over your own perceived quality of a final product?
After Peter denied Jesus, he started to believe the devil’s lies, that he was no longer usable and that God could not, would not, forgive or love him ever again. Peter thought that his life as a disciple was over since the last meal he made Jesus was a scorched steak, I digress. Nevertheless, Peter did feel the effects of having his grandiose visions of loyalty to Jesus depart when he failed, so he gave up and went back to fishing. Yet early one morning, while out in the boat with his friends, a figure appeared on the shore and called to them; it was Jesus. Peter didn’t even wait to turn the boat around and paddle in; he lept off and swam as hard as he could! What did he find? Jesus was making him breakfast. It was at this time that Jesus reminded Peter that his calling and usability were still in force with the statement, “feed my sheep.” (John 21:17). Jesus was more concerned with the process, not the final product; Jesus understood that Peter was not perfect, he would make mistakes, and that was ok.
My wife saw my heart, even through the smoke in the kitchen, and appreciated the love that motivated me to cook a meal for her, even more than the taste. God sees past our flaws, mistakes, baggage, scars, and imperfections, He sees our heart, and as long as you desire to please Him, you can be assured, even when you feel you’ve failed, He is saying, “it’s ok, I love you.”
Scripture: I Samuel 16:7b, “For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (ESV)
Question: Have you ever felt inadequate, unworthy, or as if what you offer God is not good enough?
Prayer: Father, there are so many times I feel so unworthy and inadequate, times when I don’t feel what I bring, is making a difference or matters. There are days when I have good intentions but not enough time and great ideas that seem to come up short. Please help me remember that you are not after perfection; you just want me to love you, and sometimes that is messy, chaotic, disorganized, and not pretty. Thank you for your patience and for seeing past the smoke of my imperfect life into my very heart. May I not be so focused on the final product that I fail to enjoy your love during the preparation. Thank you for your patience, grace, care and for making me feel special. I love you. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen