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Have you ever heard the phrase “Mise En Place?” (translated literally everything in its place) Pronounced ​[mi zɑ̃ ˈplas], it comes from the French culinary world, and has to do with putting all the ingredients, utensils, pots and pans in the right place ahead of time in order to cook the most efficiently as possible. It is, as one culinary writer has stated, more than a process or procedure for effective cooking, but a “philosophy” or even an “ethical system.” Everything in its place enables chefs the ability to cook delicious food as quickly and efficiently as possible. And it works in the kitchen.

But sometimes we try to live a “Mise En Place” life. From school to work to relationships, “If I can just get everything in the right place, than I will be free from the suffering, and chaos of this messy world,” so the thinking goes. Only, life doesn’t work that way. Life is far too complex to be able to place everything in the right location and assume it will work perfectly. And yet, we keep trying. “Mise En Place” becomes a coping strategy to deal with not only the difficulties of life in the world, but the emotional havoc created by such a world.

The answer then, is not simply to put everything in its place, but to trust in a God who will, one day, “work out everything for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” (1 Cor. 8:28) In the meantime, trying to get everything “just right” is an act of futility.

No amount of planning and structure can ward off the sting of a lost job, a diagnosis of cancer, an unexpected divorce. Everything in its place can’t live up to the messiness of this world. A good God however, can stand up to the questions and the struggles that emerge in such circumstances. And while there are no easy answers, may we never forget that he sent his Son, who drank from the same cup as we do, for us and our salvation.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

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