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FIRST-PERSON: The right ingredients

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. (BP) — I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a very good cook. It’s not for lack of trying.

In my efforts to give my wife a break, I often cooked meals when our kids were growing up. I always tried to make them something special, but not always with positive outcomes. My kids love to remind me of some of my efforts to create culinary sensations.

Perhaps my most disastrous meal was an ill-fated attempt to make au gratin potatoes. The recipe called for milk. We didn’t have any in the refrigerator but I saw a can of sweetened condensed milk in the cabinet and decided to use that.

In my naiveté, I wrongly assumed any milk would work. As you can imagine, it did not turn out well. Imagine candy-flavored cheesy potatoes! Yes, it tasted as bad as it sounds. I think our daughter only ate one bite. Our more courageous sons might have managed two bites. But the whole family realized pretty quickly it was not a combination of flavors we would be able to consume. The whole concoction ended up in the trash. And my kids have never let me forget it!

While that was definitely my worst culinary disaster, there were many more. I guess I am a bit thickheaded and have to learn the hard way. But in retrospect, almost all of my cooking disasters were because I was missing one or two ingredients for some recipe I was trying. Instead of going to the store and getting what I really needed, I would either leave those ingredients out or substitute something I thought would taste the same, but it never did.

But along the way I did learn an important life lesson: We need the right ingredients for a meaningful life.

When we leave something important out, or when we try to substitute something else for what we really need, life never works out like we had hoped. It fact, life often takes disastrous turns when we try to build it upon a bad idea and wrong beliefs.

As a teen I memorized 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The truth I learned in that verse was that God’s Word has given us a recipe for living a meaningful and fulfilling life. As we study it and apply its principles to our daily lives, the Bible gives flavor and meaning to our relationships, our activities, our goals and our dreams.

But when we start ignoring things we read in the Bible or try to substitute something in the place of what God’s Word tells us, it always ends up badly. How many times do we have to make the same mistakes over and over again before we start following the recipe of life that God has given us?

Anything else, no matter how creative it may sound, will just end up creating a mess.