Yesterday, we made two Spanish tortillas for the small group discussion of our book of the month. Now, for those of you not familiar with this delicious food, Spanish tortilla is a concoction of potatoes, eggs, olive oil, and salt, and it is quite labor-intensive.
The first few times we tried to make tortilla ended in either disaster or a barely edible form of something that resembled tortilla. Then I had a lesson from the master.
Petra, the dear mother-in-law of our pastor in Alcalá, invited me and my visiting mother into her home–and her kitchen–to give us a lesson on making her perfect, tasty, gone-the-minute-it-hits-the-table tortilla. She walked us through the whole process of peeling and thinly slicing the potatoes, cooking down the potatoes, beating the eggs, throwing in large pinches of salt, mixing everything and returning it to the pan, and then flipping the mostly-cooked tortilla. As her skilled, aged hands worked, she talked (and I translated for my mom). To this day, the time spent in Petra’s kitchen that evening is one of my fondest memories from Spain.
As I hesitantly blundered through the process of making tortilla yesterday, Petra and our precious time in her kitchen were on my mind. As my unskilled hands went through the painfully slow chore of peeling and attempting to thinly slice the potatoes, I began to wish I had Petra’s hands to do it quickly and ably.
Then the Spirit stopped me.
Do not wish for her abilities, for they come from the life she has lived. You cannot have the one without the other.
Petra became a widow at a rather young age with a brood of children at home, the youngest but an infant. Her skilled, aged hands come from years of work and hard life experience. The reason she can so quickly and ably prepare potatoes for tortilla is that she has done so thousands of times.
As I stood there working through my pile of potatoes (with my hero Mick at my side to help speed up the process), I pondered Petra’s life and her godly example. The Spirit was gently teaching me to embrace with joy the trials I have each day–for they will produce in me a perfection that far surpasses Petra’s tortilla: I am being conformed to the image of Christ.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5