Big Helper

~~My son was waxing nostalgic a few days before Thanksgiving, his favorite holiday of the year. I asked him what he was most looking forward to and typical of men (sorry guys, this one is going to be decidedly gender biased) he mentioned something along the lines of the days of rest and relaxation ahead. I snorted and said something along the lines of ‘must be nice’, to which he raised an eyebrow. Ladies, you’re with me here, right? November hits and our destiny is the kitchen. Mind, I’m not complaining. It’s my favorite time of year too. I love food. I love to eat and I love to feed my family. The holidays are my joy and my bane. In my husband’s extended family there is an unwavering pattern to Thanksgiving day. The women cook, schelp, serve, and then we clean up. The men… well they find a comfy recliner or a soft sofa and settle in to let the turkey coma commence. It used to infuriate me. Now I know that we women have the better part of the day because of what happens when we are all together in the kitchen. And I realize that sometimes “help” is not all that helpful.   

In my own kitchen, I have a very particular way about things. (I know you cannot imagine that about me!) I have certain drawers for certain utensils, certain cabinets for certain baking pans etc… I am very very organized (I can bake an entire cake without moving from in front of one open cabinet and one drawer!). I also have a method when I cook or bake that involves making a hot slinging mess across every conceivable surface, but, I clean as I go, so between every dish my kitchen returns to sparkling order. It is my way. Sometimes my husband wants to come in to the middle of the slinging and begin to “help”. Can I just tell you how insane it makes me? Do you need me to explain, ladies? He means well. He’s a great guy who sees a need and wants to fill it. But I don’t need “help”. He doesn’t understand my method, doesn’t know my “rules”, doesn’t know where things belong, so “help” turns into a major source of… well… not help. We’ve come to a good place on this mostly. He asks what he can do, and I ask him to please sit across the bar and keep me company. 

Some of you have “big helpers” called children or grandchildren, and we don’t even need to explain that kind of “help” in the kitchen! It’s a delightful sort of help from which afterward we need true deliverance!

So you get my point. I was finding a spark of gratitude deep in my troubled mind when my husband began to “help” unasked as I was cooking for Christmas day today, and I heard the Lord’s words, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8) I actually had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from saying them aloud (in a strident and surely unpleasant tone)! I think that for the first time I may actually have a glimmer of true understanding about this verse. I used to think it meant that God is mysterious, incomprehensible, and bigger than my imagination can fathom. But maybe it simply means that He doesn’t need my help. I don’t understand what He’s doing, or how He will do it. I don’t know the recipe or the ingredients, so I don’t know what to put away and what to leave on the counter. I don’t know when the mixing has just begun or is about to conclude. I don’t know if the trash needs to be emptied or if this is just the tip of that iceberg. I have no comprehension, and jumping into the middle only makes more inconvenience and creates new problems to solve. I am sure that on occasion He has wanted to give Himself a good head smack over my attempt to “help”. Or give me one!

Can you think of the last thing you “helped” God with? My way usually begins with prayer and telling God how I want Him to solve some minor problem I’m having. (Uh…if I know how to solve it, why do I need Him?) Or I’m trying to rescue someone from His sovereign plan for their lives. Or I see what I think is His plan in the starting gate so I duck under the bar and run like the wind. I always have good intentions when I pitch in to “help” God just like my husband does when he helps me, but do I ask first? Do I stand back and watch, at the ready, but out of the way? Do I praise His execution as He whips out a masterpiece? Do I ever just sit in silence and watch Him work, in awe that He works for me? Nope. I just can’t sit still. I feel compelled to help. It feels lazy and irresponsible to just sit by while He works. I feel that surely, I must be needed and I have to jump in uninvited and foul up the works, making messes He has to clean up. I’m pretty sure that I don’t even warrant the affectionate pat on the head and the designation “big helper”. I’m pretty sure He just wants me to let Him do what He does best, in His own kitchen, in His own way, without my “help”.

Admittedly, it’s sometimes hard to know when to help and when to get out of the way, but I find that as in the temporal so in the spiritual, asking goes a long way. Just ask. And then wait to be invited into the process, willing to do whatever He asks, not what you think He needs. Then if you make a mess, it will be because you really were a “big helper”.