The last few years have seen a lot of asking, knocking and seeking happen in our family. It sounds Christianese-y and removed from the reality of hard work and effort, but it’s true. We asked God for new direction, we sought and found a home, we knocked on every door and turned over every loose stone until we brought Adelay home. I thought, “ahhhhhh” – maybe my asking and seeking days could be over for a while. (It’s OK, you can laugh. I’m certain God did.)
I’ll be honest, I don’t want to ask for anything more. I’m tired of requesting prayer for this or that legal paperwork or financial hurdle in this adoption expedition. I’m tired of knocking on doors looking for wisdom, for peace, for how to not cry in the middle of the grocery store when it’s just been that kind of day and someone asks where I got my baby. I always thought Jesus said, “ “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you… and you’ll never have to walk through another door or find another thing ever again. This door is magic and there’s everything you need for life and happiness behind it. Handy, right?”
But he didn’t, actually. In the same breath he uses the imagery of a child asking for lunch: “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone… …If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Food is the best example here, which makes sense because Jesus used it. Maybe I’ve been too hard-headed to see it, to focused on the end-goal to realize that maybe the seeking and asking and knocking is the point. I love to cook and I realize that I love to cook maybe a little more than I love to eat (which is really saying something). There’s something cleansing and centering in the stirring, seasoning and perfecting of a dish. I don’t always get it right – sometimes my chicken and rice soup is more like savory porridge or I burn the potatoes to shriveled crisps. Sometimes I am over-ambitious and try to cook a fancy dessert even though sugar cookies are more my wheelhouse.
But in the cooking I find peace. I am asking and seeking, if you will, coaxing a humble chuck roast to become a succulent wine-braised serving of warmth and family, a bowlful of security. It wouldn’t be satisfying to have cooked one delicious meal and return to my kitchen every day at 5 p.m. to a pot of the same on the stove, ready for serving. It wouldn’t feel like a warm welcome to friends and family, or like a gift to my husband or like an homage to my mother. It would simply be eating, because eating has to happen and I guess we can have the same sad dinner again and keep up our strength, like survivors instead of celebrators. Because celebrators spend all afternoon on a dish, while survivors eat what they can get, in a hurry as they run to the next shelter. Celebrators ask, seek and knock – finding the rare spice or the perfect wine or the essential cheese – celebrators think “this will make our meal so wonderful!” with joy, enjoying the seeking almost as much as they relish the finding. Celebrators take their time, lay out the good silverware and eat with intention.
I am still seeking and knocking, asking and searching. The state of the world makes me both sad and passionate, as I think about how to protect my daughter and my family from the evil that lurks around us. But I am striving to see this as a lovely ritual, like mincing garlic or rubbing spices on a roast. Passing through the door is wonderful, just as dinner is delicious. But tomorrow morning we’ll still want a cup of coffee and something to eat, and we’ll begin the seeking all over again as we peruse a cookbook or pull chicken breasts out to thaw.
So I’m asking, seeking and knocking and I will not give up. Because I was made to ask and made to create. Just because I am tired does not mean I’ve failed – my burned biscuits do not make me a bad cook and my raggedy feelings do not make me a bad wife and mom. Today’s a new day, with a new recipe to seek again, ask again, knock again – and wait for even more doors to open.