Our kitchen "before" (2005)

If there were awards for Kitchen Evangelists, I’d be a contender.

Our church staff and their spouses came to our home last Friday night for a belated holiday dinner, and once again I thanked God and Dr. Allen for a spacious, functional room big enough to accommodate a crowd.

God you presumably already know, but Dr. Allen is our kitchen cardiologist – the man who performed open heart surgery on the heart of our home six years ago.  This major procedure was propelled by the generous donation of  free cherry cabinetry that was surgically removed from a friend’s home nearby when they remodeled.  Keith Allen is the genius who figured out how to install cabinets designed for someone else’s home into our century-old one.

As you can tell from the before and after photos, he transformed the Worst Kitchen in Wheaton to Most Miraculously Improved and he did it on a dime. (Ok, add a few zeros but you get my point.) When new visitors to Rowes’ Garden comment on our large, sunny kitchen I love to tell them the story of its transformation.

So why do I drag my feet verbally when it comes to talking to new acquaintances about spiritual things?

On plane rides I secretly hope my seatmates will ignore me because  I’d rather read a book than speak of my faith, even though my conscience reminds me that I will never have that particular opportunity again to share the hope within me. And when I’m caught off guard and confronted by a skeptic, I sometimes stutter and stammer like Colin Firth in The King’s Speech.

I work with the media every day  in the publishing world so I’m well aware of the content of most women’s magazines:  clothing styles, culinary features, and celebrity profiles. But here’s what’s crazy: why are we led to believe that we should spend most of our discretionary time on matters that don’t really matter?

I’m currently reading a new book by Mark Mittelberg to be released in April called The Reason Why Faith Makes Sense. Mittelberg uses this analogy:

Suppose a young man sends his fiancée a beautiful diamond ring that costs him $15,000, putting it in the little case that the jeweler throws in for free. Just imagine how shocked he would be if she responded by saying, ‘Thank you, sweetheart – that was such a nice little box you sent me! To take special care of it, I promise to keep it wrapped up in a safe place so nothing will ever happen to it.’

Mittelberg continues, “That seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet isn’t it just as foolish for people like us to spend all our time and energy on our bodies, which are only containers of our real self, the soul…which will persist long after our bodies have turned to dust?”

I am so grateful for the ways in which our Miracle Kitchen has helped us offer hospitality to hundreds of people since its transformation.  I love to tell the story.

But I am chagrined to think how much more readily I chat with others about things that won’t last and don’t ultimately matter rather than engaging them in conversations of eternal significance. How can I talk about the heart of our home without getting to the heart of the matter – the state of someone’s soul?

Jesus put it this way: “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8:36-37).

Small-minded as I am, I do care deeply about where others will spend eternity. Lord, forgive my selfishness and give me opportunities to tell the greatest story on earth.

And maybe some of those conversations will even take place in the kitchen.

Our kitchen AFTER