A Mess Like You

I heard a story on the radio this week giving some inside information about the kitchens of the chefs of some of the United States’ finest restaurants. Many of the kitchens are run using an old French system called mise-en-place. Translated to English, it essentially means “put in place” or “everything in its place.”

The idea of mise-en-place is that a professional kitchen must run with the utmost efficiency. Everything must be cleaned as one cooks. All ingredients for cooking must be perfectly in place prior to the actual dinner shift. The appearance of each cook should be clean. All utensils must be perfectly in place in their assigned spots when not in use. One chef even says that any cooks in his kitchen should be able to perform blindfolded because they know where everything is.

For many chefs mise-en-place does not just stay in the kitchen. It’s a way of life. They take the rigid, uber-organizational lifestyle home with them. And the belief is that in order to have peace of mind, nothing can be out of place – ever.

One culinary student who has learned the technique said, “You mise-en-place your life. You set up your books for class, you set up your chef whites, your shoes are shined, you know everything that you need every step of the day.”*

Nothing can be out of place. And if anything is, you’ll be kicked out of the kitchen.

Sometimes we think that in order to approach God in prayer, in His Word, or via fellowship with other believers that our lives must first be mise-en-place.

Everything in its place.

We think that if there is even a hint of sloppiness in our spiritual lives – a missed quiet time here, an ungodly thought there, a slip of the tongue here – then God will kick us out of His kitchen, so-to-speak.

That somehow God will not give us the time of day until we first get our acts all together. Until there is no longer anything messy in our lives. Until we’ve first “cleaned up” our spiritual appearances.

But the wonderful reality of the gospel is that no one ever achieves spiritual mise-en-place. That our lives are always a mess. We can’t approach God when our lives are perfectly put together – because that will never happen!

Rather, it is our broken, messy, sloppy, out-of-place lives that God accepts because all the messiness is expunged by grace through faith in Christ. Jesus bore the wrath for anything and everything in our lives that has ever been unclean, ungodly, or imperfect. And as our substitute, His righteousness is imputed to us so that when God looks at us He truly does see lives “put in place.” Because He sees Jesus – the One who was never spiritually sloppy, who never slipped.

You don’t have to work so hard at striving to get everything in your life in just the right order, thinking that will gain your acceptance with God.

Jesus has done all the work on your behalf already. Believe that what He has done on the cross is enough to cover all your sloppiness, and rest in the joy of knowing that God has accepted a mess like you.

-Matt

*Charnas, Dan. “For a More Ordered Life, Organize Like a Chef.” Available online at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/11/338850091/for-a-more-ordered-life-organize-like-a-chef.