“Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it according to your means” 2 Corinthians 8:11
It had to be done. The pantry was groaning, calling out for some much needed attention. I’ve tried to ignore it, quickly opening the door grabbing the necessary ingredients for whatever I was making and then just as quickly closing the door again. Yes, it's time for…the pantry cleaning. This is when I discover not one but three partially used jars of cumin, two of which were expired. A package of corn husks and a myriad of dried chilies for when I thought I was going to learn how to make tamales…never happened. Jars of beans, grains and rice have so filled the shelf that if you look at it straight on seems to bow a little in the center under the weight. And I don’t even want to tell you how many bottles of different vinegars, bags of nuts and packages of pasta I have. Arg.
After some much needed organizing, and I experienced some relief from the frustration and remorse, I've determined to make the most of my pantry and use of what I have on hand. It’s time to get creative with those pantry staples.
As I was going through all of the cans, jars and bottles of ingredients I realized I have so much. Thinking through how many different things can be made with all the grains, beans, cans of tomatoes, tuna, olives, pasta, etc. I just needed to do an inventory on what I have.
This got me thinking about everything I have been given. Not in the stocked pantry sense, but in the ways God has gifted me, and gifted you. What He has given us and the ways in which we can be used. The trouble is for me, I can become discontent with what I’ve been given and sometimes I get dissatisfied with the task at hand. Maybe I’m not seeing the results I was hoping for or it’s just harder than I originally thought and it’s just not that exciting any more. Can you relate?
I have a group of about twelve women that come to my house every Wednesday night for a Bible study. Last week was our first meeting after the holidays and we are starting a new study. As has been our tradition I put out a challenge for them. I ask them to seek God, asking Him what is the 'one thing' He wants them to come away with, maybe something to start doing or even stop doing. Time and time again God has been faithful, showing me the ‘one thing’, but recently it has seemed to take longer than usual. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been asking God “What is the one thing you want to show me?” silence. “What would you like me to start doing? Or stop doing?” crickets.
Then a couple of days ago I was reading in 2 Corinthians 8 and came across verse 11 “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.” That verse practically jumped off the page. That was it, that was the ‘one thing’. I believe God was impressing upon my heart to continue doing those things He has already placed before me. And believe me, I can list off what they are with no hesitation. It’s just that they’re not new or exciting. They are the same things He has been asking me to be faithful in for many months now. It reminded me of the verse in Luke 16 in the parable of the shrewd manager, where Jesus says “if you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in the large ones.” I need to be faithful with what is in front of me, with what I’ve been given. To do the 'one thing' with renewed passion and resolve, with an intentionality that they deserve. This verse is my reminder that when I’m settling into mediocrity or fighting feelings of inadequacy that stop any forward movement, I need to remember those things I’ve committed to do. And also, that God will, by the power of His Spirit enable me to accomplish those things according to His will. But it starts with me, choosing to stay focused and intentional.
God has profoundly gifted us. We are made in such a way to make a difference in our sphere of influence and in the world around us. Some of those ways might be public and seen by many. Some may be hidden within the walls of our homes. But one is not more important than the other. God doesn’t ask us to be faithful with something we haven’t been given, only those things that have been entrusted to us.
So I will stay the course, pursuing the goal in front of me. And in my kitchen I will commandeer my pantry, and put to good use all that I have, and make something delicious! This lentil and cilantro salad the perfect celebration of some of those pantry items that have been neglected. This is a healthy and satisfying lunch all on its own, or a side next to a roast chicken or a simply cooked piece of fish for dinner. It can be served warm or cold and will last for a few days in the fridge. I hope you might be inspired to look a little more closely at all you've been given as well, in your pantry or more importantly what you've been given from the Lord.-s
Lentil And Cilantro Salad
3 celery stalks
1 cup black or green lentils
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 thyme sprigs
1 fresh bay leaf
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (loosely packed) cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Micro-greens (optional) to serve
Coarsely chop one celery stalk and combine in a large saucepan with lentils, carrot, onion, thyme, bay leaf and 8 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender (20-25 minutes). Strain (discard vegetables and herbs) and transfer lentils to a bowl. Add half the olive oil, stir to coat, then cool to room temperature. Thinly slice remaining celery diagonally, add lentils with cilantro, red wine vinegar, scatter with micro greens and serve. Serves 4