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Finding the missing ingredient

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I enjoy dabbling in the culinary arts. Most afternoons, I can be found thumbing through pages of old recipe books, brainstorming which recipes might make a delightful meal to entertain friends for dinner.

I love the traces of food stains left behind on the pages – evidence of my previous cooking endeavours. Each time I see those familiar stains, I’m reminded of how much time and effort goes into my creations. I’m always hopeful the end results will be pleasing and leave my friends wanting more.

Then, I imagine how God must have felt when he so magnificently created heaven and earth and everything in it. I’m certain he was more than hopeful he would be pleased with his creation, and that we would want more of him.

What a remarkable feeling of joining God in the art of creativity!

There are times, though, when my culinary masterpieces aren’t quite right, and I desperately try to fix the dish. I wonder: is there a missing ingredient? In my cooking crises, I’m reminded of God’s ability to bring healing and restoration in times of trouble.

Back to the beginning

Although I often think of God when I’m in the kitchen, this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, I’m embarrassed by the number of years I lacked the “perfect ingredient” in my life.

My love for God began when I was a little girl. I still recall the sound of my mother’s fingers tapping on my bedroom door early Sunday mornings. Without fail, she’d wake my sisters and me, ensuring our perfect attendance at church.

I felt so proud as I memorized Bible verses for Sunday school. I recall beaming with delight when my teacher would reward my hard work and dedication with a small, but significant, prize. She’d smile and slip her hand into a bag of surprises, revealing a bookmark, brightly coloured pencil, or shiny gold star. I was elated.

Sadly, my perfect attendance slowly dwindled to not-at-all. All that was left of God was a faded childhood memory. But the seed had been planted. Years later, I found myself calling out to God once again.

A desperate cry

My 18th birthday in 1982 marked the beginning of my marriage. A year later, I gave birth to the first of two sons. I grieved when my youngest son, at age three, was diagnosed with autism. There was no bargaining with God to heal him; instead, I blamed myself, certain that God was punishing me.

Each passing year of my marriage brought a higher hurdle for me to jump over. Overwhelmed, I cried out to God in anger, “Why are you doing this to me?” In the quiet that followed, I asked myself, “Why am talking to God?” His response was quick. For reasons I can only attribute to the Lord, I felt led to go to church that morning.

During the sermon, the pastor said in a loud voice, “Someone has come here in great need.” I’ll never forget those words. Although I didn’t acknowledge it then, God was speaking to me that day.

Three years went by before I returned to church. God waited patiently for me. In 1998, a few months after my return, I was baptized.

Surrendering my life to God didn’t exempt me from troubles. My 20-year marriage ended in divorce. But God was with me then, and he’s with me now.

Today, I reside in the country with my husband of six years. We raise pigs, grow crops – and create wonderful meals in the kitchen. Most importantly, God is the key ingredient in our lives. It’s a recipe that leaves me wanting more.

—Vickie Stam lives just outside Jarvis, Ont., and is a member of Evergreen Heights Christian Fellowship Church, Simcoe.

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