Meatballs! Swedish, Italian, or sweet ‘n’ sour — we love them all! And there are so many wonderful ways we can use them! Spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, meatballs sliced and layered in lasagna, tiny meatballs on toothpicks as appetizers….
We have three favorite recipes. We make traditional Italian meatballs using ground beef, veal, breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and Romano cheese, tomato sauce and seasonings. These are great in a variety of Italian pasta dishes, but especially spaghetti and meatballs!
We’ve also made chicken meatballs by substituting shredded chicken and cheddar cheese. We like to serve these with rigatoni, instead of spaghetti. And we frequently make Swedish meatballs for get-togethers. Our Swedish meatballs are seasoned very differently, of course, and are served in a brown sauce made with sour cream and no cheese. These are to die for, especially when served atop a plate of egg noodles!
Although we’ve never tried these other recipes, we find it interesting that meatballs can be made from ground sausage, venison, or other meats, and seasoned in a variety of ways. What makes a meatball is not so much the ingredients as that beautiful round shape. One day we were making meatballs — lots of meatballs — for a gathering, when a friend dropped by unexpectedly. We invited her to join us in the kitchen, and talk to us while we worked.
As she watched, we’d scoop out a portion of the meat mixture, and gently but firmly shape each meatball by hand. She was amazed that we had it down to a science: no real measuring; we’d just guesstimate the portions and roll them each into an almost perfect ball — quickly and efficiently — placing the nearly uniform meatballs on a large tray. We were like potters working with clay, molding, shaping, creating little culinary ornaments.
In a manner of speaking, each of us is a potential meatball in the making! No, not a “meatball” in the derogatory sense of “a foolish or stupid person!” But God wants to shape and mold each of us for His purposes. Once we become the right “shape” spiritually, God is best able to use us to serve His Kingdom and the people around us. And like the great variety of meatball recipes we stated above, God is able to use whoever and whatever we are today, “season” us with the influence of His divine Holy Spirit, and then gently but firmly shape us into something beautiful.
Trouble is, many of us don’t allow God to do the shaping. We refuse to be flexible, pliable…. Many of us are rigid in our thinking and our habits; and most of us are determined to “shape” our own destinies! In other words, many of us refuse to place ourselves, who and what we are at present, into the hands of the Master Chef, in order to allow Him to mold us.
God wanted His followers to understand this important truth, so He told His prophet Jeremiah to go to the potter’s workshop. Once there, Jeremiah observed that often the vessel “…the potter was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” (Jeremiah 18:4 NIV) Then God told His prophet, ask My people “…Can’t I do with you as [the] potter does with clay? …You are like the clay in the potter’s hands.” (Jeremiah 18:6 GOD’S WORD)
Are you allowing God to mold you? Are you soft, flexible, pliable, willing to place yourself into the hands of the Master? To be good clay (or ground beef), we must be teachable, willing to learn from God, the Bible, or anyone who shares a truth with us. To be flexible, we need to be receptive to new ideas (as long as they don’t countermand God’s sovereign Word). To be pliable, we need to be willing to surrender to God’s will, and give up our “right to be right.” (We can’t expect to get every thing our way!)
We may all start out as a pile of raw hamburger, with our prospects looking cloudy, but there’s always a chance of meatballs — if we allow God to shape our lives.