Pesto: A Lesson on Jesus and Gratitude

I’ve heard a lot of people bad-mouthing God lately. Mean stuff.  Accusing Him of wrong doing, of abandoning people, of being cruel and unjust. And while I know their petty insults don’t put a dent in His endless joy, it aggravates me. A lot.

I rant to God myself but I don’t blame Him for my stupidity or the stupidity of others. In fact, Jesus is my best and brightest hope. So why isolate from the only One who heals, loves to help, and changes circumstances?   As I was mumbling to God about these mumblers, He gave me a crazy picture that put things in perspective for us all.

My friend Kate makes the best pesto in the world. The bowls magically empty every time I serve it. Even when it is not served, people request it. “So you got any more of Kate’s pesto?” they ask, already knowing I do. It would be near criminal to refuse them. It’s that good.

It all started with Kate’s crazy basil plant that she ignored and it produced abundantly, out of control. That is another blog post altogether, but she decided to make pesto with her abundant plant and then realized that her quantities of pesto were also abundant. Enter me, the willing pesto junkie, happy to take any extras she may have.

She recently asked me if I wanted last year’s leftovers to make room for this year’s batch. I took it all.  Without guilt or hesitation. All.  And yes, I shared the abundant stash with other pesto junkie friends.pesto

Now in my world, I have really tried to express my gratefulness. From my perspective, I really, really think I have thanked Kate appropriately.  I have bragged on her, I have posted on her Facebook page, I have texted.  I am pretty sure that she knows that I am grateful for this delicious gift.

Until. Until she gave me the recipe and I decided to make it myself.

(Jesus is relevant in this story so stay with me.)

She gave me the sacred recipe with extra notes gleaned from trial and error. She gave me some of her sacred, abundant, Basil plant. She told me where and what kinds of ingredients to buy. She even told me what kind of food processor I would need.

I was making it, but everything was still from her and through her…

It was the most humbling moment. When I made it myself, only then did I see the effort required, the true and high cost of the ingredients, the lavish flavors that were carefully blended together. This is not your basic thrown down of mere nuts, olive oil and basil.  There were two fine cheeses I couldn’t even pronounce, two different kinds of nuts, extra virgin olive oil, on and on the extravagant list goes.  It’s not hard to make necessarily.  But when my own batch was done, I found I was grateful beyond words. And no, to be honest, it was not as good as hers. She has “the touch.”

I had no idea.  I had no idea the cost of the cheeses and nuts. No idea how much basil was required. No idea of the effort and the precision.

Then it hit me, how could I be fully grateful for that which I had no idea of its true cost?

I thought about Jesus a lot when I was making pesto that day with my junkie friend, Heather.  We kept making remarks like, “Now we know why it’s so good.” and “Wow, who knew this was in here?”  and, “Oh my goodness, this is so expensive to make!”

I kept thinking about Kate just giving me all that pesto.  So extravagant a gift and all I gave her was a greedy thank you and an ask for more. I kept thinking about Jesus.  About how I think I know why to be thankful but really I don’t have a clue of the real cost…

A couple of God take aways:

Be grateful rather than greedy.  When we complain/accuse/blame The God of Love and Life, we forget that we can’t even breath without His power. He gives us all that we have. We may be dissatisfied, or greedy, or clueless, but we do well to remember that “he graciously gives us all things for life and godliness.” All that we have, even that which we complain about…it’s a gift from Him.

His lavishness is to be shared. It is out of His abundance that He gives us abundance so that we can give abundantly.  God blessed Kate’s basil that she transformed and shared with me. Out of her blessing I was able to enjoy this amazing gift but also to pass the blessing on to others. What have you been blessed with?  Are you transforming it? Are you sharing it?

Consider the great cost.  Jesus has given us His extravagant, abundant love, redemption, adoption—every single blessing we enjoy.  On our good days, we throw little thank you’s at Him while our hands are out asking for more. On our bad days, we just complain. And yet we don’t even know all that it took— all the ingredients, the cost, the precision, the sacrifice, for us to have His life.

How gracious. How giving. How generous. How patient with my ignorance.

It is the giver of the gift who knows the full price of the gift. Like Kate with her pesto. Like Jesus with his redemption. It is the receiver of the gift (me!) that would do well to consider the cost and realize some things can never be re-paid only shared. Maybe the best way to bless Jesus, or Kate, is to honor the giver by passing on the blessing I have received with a grateful heart.

As for the trash talking about God? Maybe the sound of our praise and thanksgiving will drown out their doubt and unbelief. Maybe our shared abundance will do more to soften their hard hearts than any correction.

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