by Jill Larsen
I lived on a shelf with all the other spices in one of the most sought after restaurants in our city. Our shelves were full of rich and fresh spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, oregano, basil, salt, and on and on it went.
And then there was me. Pepper. I sat in the back of the shelf because I was rarely used. I made the chef sneeze too much, and he didn’t want to sneeze and ruin someone’s food, so he just banished me. No more pepper.
So I sat day after day watching all the spices being used and loved. And I smelled their fragrance fill the room. I knew I was getting bitter, but I felt so left out. Why were they all being used and appreciated while I just sat here? Was I really so unlikable? So unappetizing? Why was I even here?
Then one day the kitchen flurried with excitement. An important restaurant critic was coming and the chef wanted his restaurant to be loved and recognized. Everything had to be perfect. And when the plates went out, you could see they were the best ever. Steam rose from fresh vegetables and meats, and the smells made everyone’s mouth water.
Yet as the plates went out, one by one they kept coming back. When the chef questioned the waiter he replied, “He says it’s delicious but it needs more spice. ‘It’s missing something,’ he says.”
The chef reached into our spice drawer and added more salt, sending the plate back.
The waiter returned, holding the same plate, and the Chef’s face took on a pink tinge.
“He says it’s too salty. It’s missing something else,” the waiter said.
The chef grabbed the plate and threw it into the garbage, fancy plate at all. The kitchen turned silent as everyone turned to stare.
“What are you looking at?” the chef yelled. “Back to work, all of you. We need to make this plate over.”
Everyone got back to work, and over the usual clinking and clanking of cooking, there was an unusual hush as though everyone was holding their breath. What had they done wrong? This was such a good restaurant. Why didn’t the food critic like it?
Then, the food critic himself walked into the room. Once again silence fell over the room except for the sound of sizzling and boiling at the stove.
“What spices do you have?” the food critic asked the chef.
The chef brought the food critic to our spice cabinet. The food critic began picking up our jars and reading our labels. He came to me and picked me up.
“Pepper,” he said. “That’s what was missing. There was no pepper, was there.”
The chef dropped open his mouth. “You really like pepper?” he asked.
“I certainly do!” replied the food critic. “Why do you think almost every home in America has a salt AND pepper shaker on their table? You can’t have one without the other! Pepper is one of the most popular spices in the world! And in my opinion, one of the best. Make me the same plate, but please bring out a shaker of pepper to go with it.”
The chef and kitchen staff set to work immediately, but I hardly noticed because they had taken me out of the drawer. And instead of just watching, I was suddenly opened up and poured into a shaker, never to be left at the back of the drawer again.
The restaurant didn’t get the five star reference they wanted, all because of me. But I can tell you one thing, I was never left out again.
Have you ever been in a place where you were overlooked or rejected? God wants to be like the food critic and redeem you. He loves you and has never rejected you.
1 Peter 2:4
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—