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The Missing Ingredient of Thanksgiving

Posted: 11/24/19 at 8:00am. Column by Ed Jordan.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have been blessed with enjoying lots of really good food. My wife is an excellent cook, and we enjoy foods from many different cultures.

As missionaries, God placed us in Hungary, which exposed us to some of the finest cooking in the world. With Thanksgiving coming, we think of turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravies, cranberries, and pumpkin or pecan pies. We can’t wait to feast on the Thanksgiving meal, and we rarely add up all the hours that went into preparing it.

Some of the best meals are somewhat simple in their contents, but when prepared with love and slow-cooked with time-tested techniques, they become the food of kings.

Several months ago we watched a television show where the chef sought to discover the secret ingredients of traditional meals—sometimes still prepared over open fires, or slow-cooked. His discovery is summarized in this statement: “Time is the missing ingredient in our cooking today.” And there is much truth to this statement.

The perfect Bolognese sauce is cooked slowly and long. A great chicken soup takes time for the ingredients to release their flavors. There is no substitute for the time involved in preparing a great meal.

The chef presented data regarding the amount of time spent on preparing dinner or supper. He said that today the average total time spent preparing food at home is 27 minutes a day. In the 1950s, it was 60 minutes a day.

While we all like to enjoy a meal fit for a king, we rarely invest the time needed for its production.

While we all like to enjoy a meal fit for a king, we rarely invest the time needed for its production. As a result, we often eat food that is not very tasty nor healthy. So time is one of the most important ingredients in preparing, and sharing, a sumptuous meal.

Actually time is the missing element in many parts of our lives. Preachers, who are usually the main spiritual chefs for a lot of people, also need to spend adequate time preparing good spiritual food for those who come to be nourished spiritually. Parents enrich the lives of their children with the valuable resource of time—purposely investing our lives and what we have learned into them.

Last week I heard someone comment that gratitude needs to be the filter through which we each see our lives. When we are grateful to God for being our God, for loving us, and for giving us life, families, our church, our relationships, food and shelter, then we begin to value and enjoy life even more.

In Colossians 3:16 (CSB) we read: “ Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

We live in the greatest country on the planet, have freedom that is the envy of the world, and have abundance and blessings. Yet we rarely live gratefully—myself included. We each need to give a little time each morning to put Colossians 3:16 into practice in our own lives.

Take a few minutes each morning to read the Bible. We have time, but we must set aside a little time to do it. Read a verse of scripture, or a Bible promise, and reflect upon it. Then give five minutes to dialoguing with God about what you are grateful for today.

This is something you can do on the way to work or to the grocery store. Just start thanking God for each thing you see or hear. Giving time to do this will turn your day into a meal with God and make you grateful for all the bounty he gives to you.

Gratitude changes your perspective and life. When our son was around four years old, we were driving along a beautiful river through a canyon in the mountains. He was looking all around and then said, “Hey Dad, did God make the mountains?” I said “Yes.” He looked some more and then asked: “Did God make the river? Did God make the trees?” I said, “Yes, God made all of those things.” My son pondered for a few moments and then shared his conclusion in regard to the amazing things that God made, by saying: “I love God!” 

Appreciating all God has done leads us to appreciate God and then indeed to love him. Take time to be thankful this year during this Thanksgiving season.

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.