Sauce or Marinade? (On Chicken and Pickles)

I bet you could guess that one of my favorite parts of summer is the food. Summer food falls into a whole different category from winter food. Ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream drumsticks, ice cream cones, Oreo ice cream shakes, the ice cream man (Love. Him.)…and there’s other stuff too! Like barbeque! My husband has become quite the grill master (charcoal only, please!) and we’ve worked out an efficient system between kitchen and grill for delivering delicious wonders of smoky goodness to our plates. Chicken is one of our specialties. Neither one of us especially cares for the taste of chicken (maybe because it’s been so scientifically engineered that it doesn’t taste like chicken anymore!) so we have to be creative with how we prepare it. Weighing my various options one grill-day led me to an epiphany.

I’ve had several conversations lately that have been way out of my comfort zone. I don’t like conflict. At all. Of any kind. Ever. I don’t debate. I don’t argue. I don’t even like it when I have to teach Bible truth that I know will make folks squirm. I won’t go into the psychology behind the reasons for my conflict reticence; if you hate it too, you understand. If you love it, you never will (so stop picking on us!!) Imagine my discomfort then, in having had repeated conversations over the past month in the form of debates, arguments, and outright attacks. En Garde! Parry. Parry. Thrust. Retreat!!  It leaves me sick and reeling.

One of the things God has made me aware of through all this unpleasantness is the difference, during a “discussion”, between being sauced (not that kind of sauced – bear with me, will you?) and enjoying good marinade.

During one said discussion, I left feeling as if I had been whipped by scripture. You know this conversation. It’s all whacking and no love. Let me (whack) tell you (whack) what the Lord (whack, whack) has to say (whack) about that (whack). It’s like slapping a piece of chicken with the barbeque mop. It’s all you’ve got, so you go slap slap slapping around hoping to spread the aroma and flavor of Christ, but all you manage to provide is surface coating, because that’s all you have.

Now remember, I’m seeing this from both sides, (thank you, Lord). I’ve been well and truly sauced recently, only to find myself turning around and passing it on. What is that? Is this all we know, truly?  Slapping and whacking people with our big fat barbeque mops? My fear is that the answer is yes. We’ve been sauced by others for so long that we only know how to do the same when it comes our turn. There is so little effect of a marinade to be seen on our visible horizon, that we almost believe that it’s a myth of unicorn proportions.

So let’s talk about that marinade. A marinade consists of spices and oil, and the key ingredient of an acid base. The acid works to break down the meat fibers so they will absorb the flavor of the spices (the oil is just for love’s sake). The meat becomes infused with the marinade until you can’t separate the one from the other any longer. The two have become one – the very nature of the meat is changed irrevocably by its exposure to the marinade. Clear enough? Do you see where I’m going? Consider the aroma of Christ. Think of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Reflect on the character of God. Have you absorbed Him? Have you allowed Him to change the nature and flavor of your life? If you have soaked in the brine of Christ long enough, you will not need to go about saucing everything in sight! Others will breathe the fragrance of your life and will know what you believe…what I believe. We will finally be able to put away our mops and know that, through and through, our lives will be a testimony to our God.

There it is in theory. The sad fact is that it is so very hard to stop saucing and to become a sponge for the marinade. Those other conversations I’ve had recently? An exercise in humility and discovering that all I truly know how to do is whack at people with my sauce because I have not absorbed the flavor and aroma…the nature of Christ…to any discernable degree. If you must ask what I believe, and I must debate the issue with you because I haven’t proven it to be true in the way I live, then I have failed in my duty to surrender to the marinade.

I don’t like being sauced, and I really want to stop saucing others. It’s messy. It stains your shirt. It’s only surface dressing anyway; it doesn’t really get to the heart of things. It can’t…its nature is only to cover up the truth that underneath is the nasty taste of flesh. So if you’ve been the victim of any recent saucing at my hand, I’m truly sorry for the stain I left on your shirt and for any scars I left from whacking you with my mop. What we both need is to be thoroughly marinated so we can experience the change that comes from a long soak in the goodness of God. I’ll go first.