If we must have reality shows, then I would like to see a show on the Food Network that features a mother trying to cook a thirty-minute meal while fending off whining, argumentative children. For years I scoffed at the book, The Joy of Cooking, wondering how anyone could have joy trying to julienne peppers while a screaming toddler pulls relentlessly on her leg. I gave up trying to be Julia Childs and adjusted my standards so that a gourmet meal meant serving milk with the Cheerios.
My biggest culinary challenge has been my aversion to seafood. I have always wanted my children to eat healthful meals such as grilled salmon, but how could I expect them to like something I have always loathed?
For me, the challenge is looking the fish straight in his lifeless eye as he lies cold and humiliated with a lemon stuffed in his gaping mouth, wondering how he became Today’s Special for $17.99 with fries when just yesterday he was navigating the sunlit channels of the deep. For some reason, I can scarf down a burger in a deluge of ketchup without imagining the cow’s last conscious thought. But when I see a fish on the plate, all I can hear is his wife’s final sage advice, “Don’t go near that hook, dear. It looks dangerous…”
Imagine my surprise when I read that Jesus even ate fish for breakfast. He appeared to his disciples in his resurrected body and placed his order from the shore. Thankfully, this was before the age of garbled drive-thru microphones, so they were able to hear him.
John 21:4-5 Early in the morning…He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
I anxiously wondered why in the world he would want fish so early in the morning. Was he searching for a pet goldfish, perhaps?
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
12 … “Come and have breakfast.”
Ugh. The Bible is replete with examples of seemingly godly people eating seafood. Jesus chose fishermen as his disciples, and they undoubtedly enjoyed many laughs together over a fish dinner. I would feel much better if he had selected cattle ranchers.
As usual, God revealed some fitting reproof to me from His Word:
1 Timothy 4:4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
Everything God created is good and deserves to be received with thanksgiving – and perhaps some tartar sauce on the side. Everywhere you look, God has provided clever ways to feed man and beast. He even made the seas abound with fish and creatures to be consumed for nutrition and pleasure. It is no coincidence that the foods that are the most beneficial for our health are the ones which God provided. When Jesus returned, he wasn’t looking for nachos, but broiled fish.
God’s love can truly be found in all that He created. But could I find the love of God in a grilled salmon with a lime butter sauce? In a moment of unprecedented bravery (or stupidity), I decided to find out.
Something strange happened. I actually enjoyed cooking the salmon. Tuning out the insanity of the world, I focused on nourishing my family out of my great love for them. I pictured myself on the Food Network, surrounded by whining and crying children, yet smiling as I’m peacefully preparing a natural, wholesome meal. (The stress would come later, with the mountain of dishes, but I’m still a work in progress.)
To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the taste of the fish. Stranger still, all three of my kids were not only willing to try the salmon, but they loved it. Their determination to love something that God designed inspired me to change my foolish ways. For forty years, I had convinced myself that I hated fish. When I saw my kids blissfully eating their dinner, three little words popped into my head: Get. over. it.
Who would have ever thought that I would find joy in cooking. And the love of God in a salmon.