Joy in Any Kitchen

KitchenSmallOn a recent mission trip in Mexico our group enjoyed the hospitality of a Christian couple as they invited our team of over forty people into their home for three meals a day for the week we ministered in their town, Chacatongo, Oaxaca, Mexico. I walked into the kitchen to greet the hostess. The air was filled with the aromatic smoke from the open fire upon which kettles of food were being cooked and large tortillas were being toasted. Open shelves held the cooking supplies, no kitchen cabinets here. The kitchen floor was the way God had made it, dirt.

Our host’s kitchen was quite different from what most of us have. Diann and I are in the process of building a small house here in Mexico and just ordered our kitchen cabinets from Home Depot in Cuatla, Mexico. We’ll be picking out floor tile and ordering a small kitchen range in the next couple of weeks.

I still can picture our hostess’s smile, and actually have a picture of her smiling in her kitchen, in case I forget. Her smile is a reminder to me that joy, and even happiness, are not dependent on having a modern kitchen range, nice cabinets or a tiled floor.

I know it’s a familiar message – things can’t make us happy – but humor me as I practice the ministry of reminding us, OK? As I waxed my new car (new to me, but “pre-owned”) on a recent Saturday here at Refuge Ranch my granddaughter Angie watched. The amount of attention I was giving to my car had me concerned she might think I was idolizing it (and maybe I was). Perhaps partly out of feeling defensive about my attention to the car, I explained how I’ve often driven by junkyards where thousands of old rusty cars have been hauled. I told her that I imagine how every one of those cars, some ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, was proudly and excitedly driven off the parking lot of a car dealership by the new owner. Things have a short shelf life for providing happiness.

And yet we need “things” to live (though not as many as we think). Where’s the balance? This is how I’ve come to terms (at least to some degree) with how to look at the possessions of life…

See them as a gift from God and enjoy them with gratitude, appreciating the Gift-giver more than the gift…

Use them to help you serve others when possible…

Hold on to them loosely…

Resist the temptation for wanting more, bigger, better, or newer…

Remember that real pleasure does not come from possessions.

SmileJesus warned, Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) What’s helping me keep a proper perspective on possessions is the smile of our mission trip hostess while working in her kitchen!

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