Mere Christians

Aarti Sequeira (Food Network Chef + Author of Unwind)

Episode Summary

How to “punch light into the darkness” via your work

Episode Notes

What Aarti expects coffee to taste like on the New Earth, symptoms that work has gone from a good thing to an ultimate thing, and how to “punch light into the darkness” via your work.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[0:00:04] JR: Hey, friend, welcome to the Mere Christians podcast. I'm Jordan Raynor. How does the gospel influence the work of Mere Christians? Those of us who aren't pastors or religious professionals, but who work as web developers, electrical engineers and mediators. That's the question we explore every week.


Today, I'm posing it to my friend, Aarti Sequeira. She's a Food Network star. One of the deepest and clearest thinkers I know. Her prior episode here on the Mere Christians podcast is one of my all-time favorites. I invited her back to talk about what she expects coffee to taste like on the new earth. Aarti and I talked about symptoms that work has gone from being a good thing to an idolatrous ultimate thing and how you and I can punch light into darkness via our work. I think you guys are going to love this episode with my friend, Aarti Sequeira.




[0:01:08] JR: Aarti, welcome back to the Mere Christians podcast.


[0:01:11] AS: It's so good to be here.


[0:01:13] JR: It's been about 18 months since we had you in the show. What's the most fun thing you've done the last year and half? You have to pick one.


[0:01:21] AS: I think the most fun thing I've gotten to do is I shot a brand-new show for Food Network and at the end of one of the days, I led a bunch of women, because they were the only ones that volunteered out of the entire crew through their very first cold plunge, ice bath experience. We did it outside as the sun was setting. It was golden hour. That I don't know why, but for me, that was the most fun thing, I think I've done.


[0:01:54] JR: That's amazing. Okay. Time out. I read about this in this devotional cookbook we're going to talk about today, Unwind.


[0:02:00] AS: Yeah.


[0:02:02] JR: You're a crazy person, like you're like all in on ice baths. Talk to me about this. Sell me on this.


[0:02:08] AS: Well, okay. A friend of mine turned me on to them in 2020, actually. She'd been talking to me about it. If you guys are Food Network people, then you probably already know who I'm talking about. Antonia Lofaso had turned me on to it. There is an aspect of it that will either turn you off or pull you in based on the fact that it is a crazy thing to do, right? I was completely pulled in, because I was like, “Everybody else is going to say no. I'm going to say yes.” That probably tells you something about who I am.


The thing that I love about it is that those of us whose brains are constantly going, constantly. It is three minutes of none of that. The only thought that is going through your head is, “I got to get a hold of myself.” Then there are things that you learn to repeat to yourself to get through it, meaning, it's just a sensation. I'm not going to die. It's going to be okay. Just breathe. Once you get out of the water, there's such a rush, right, like there's a chemical rush that happens in your body. But for me, I get so much optimism, clarity. The world seems brighter. The birds sing louder. It is just –


[0:03:22] JR: Yeah. Because you realize you're not actually going to die, even though –


[0:03:24] AS: You’re alive.


[0:03:25] JR: You were on ice bath, right.


[0:03:26] AS: Yeah. Yeah. I just love it.


[0:03:29] JR: It's practicing resurrection.


[0:03:31] AS: It is, actually. I remember after I got baptized, I was like, “I want to go back in.” Maybe that's why I love it.


[0:03:40] JR: Oh, my gosh. I love it. All right. Well, I don't know that you've convinced me, but I bet this cultivates grit too, in like perseverance. I don't know. I'm interested.


[0:03:49] AS: Yeah.


[0:03:49] JR: I'm interested in exploring this.


[0:03:51] AS: It does. It push – it helps you recognize that we live a pretty comfortable life. I think getting ourselves uncomfortable is where the change always happens, right? I think it's just good practice to go, okay, I know what it feels to be that uncomfortable. the rest of the day, come what may, you know that you can get through it.


[0:04:15] JR: This is James 1, right? Trials are producing endurance. You know, I love it.


[0:04:20] AS: Yeah.


[0:04:21] JR: I told you before we started recording, I had a weird confession that I read your cookbook in one sitting. That's a weird thing to do, right?


[0:04:28] AS: It's a great confession, though. I love it.


[0:04:30] JR: It's a great confession. I mean, listen, I was sick. I still got a little residual something. That's why I sound so odd today. I've been – like, this is a unique book. It is a true devotional cookbook. What I loved about it was you're just such a phenomenal writer. It's almost like you were a serious journalist at CNN before – day. No, but like, it was super accessible and yet incredibly rich, theologically. I loved it so much. In the introduction of the book, Aarti, you said that these four words pray before you cook changed the way that you look at your work in the kitchen. How so?


[0:05:10] AS: Well, cooking had been a sanctuary for me. It had been a place that I ran to when my first career in journalism was crumbling. In its crumbling, so was my identity, right? Because I had wrapped it up so much in my work and in what I felt like was my vocation. Then cut to 10, 15 years later. Here I am getting to do this place of sanctuary as my work. Guess what? Da, da, da. It's not a sanctuary anymore.


I started to relate to people who look at the kitchen as yet another thing on their to-do list. It really scared me, frankly, because here was this thing that A, had been my joy. B, was now my bread and butter. I didn't like it anymore. It was starting to feel like an imposition on me. It was only when I had had this interaction with this woman who owned a grocery store on the west side of LA that's still there. It's called Bharat Bazaar. It's also called Samosa House, because there's a restaurant component to it too.


The woman that owns it had told me that she prayed before she cooked and in fact, had taught her cooks to pray before they cooked. When I asked her why, she said it was, because she wanted to be this pure and open vessel for whomever would eat her food. Now she's Hindu. I'm Christian. There is truth in that. It turned the light on for me to go, why would I not invite God into this thing that I do on a near daily basis, especially as the years went on. It became this thing that felt like a real imposition and a real burden. Frankly, drudgery.


I think we talk often about things that are painful and a struggle. We should talk about those, especially as people who follow Jesus, because he was a man of constant sorrow, right? I think the other thing is that life can feel very mundane, sometimes. There are things about doing the same thing every day that feel like, “Is this what my life is about? Just doing the same things every day?” How in the world can I access joy and sacredness in that? My answer is when you invite God into it, guess what? He shows up.


When I started praying before I cooked, it started off often with, “God, please let us turn out okay, because I don't know what I'm doing.” Then it turned into, “Please let this turn out okay, because you know what? I'm really bugged today. I'm feeling busted today. I'm feeling hopeless today. I need encouragement today. I'm angry today.” All these things that we walk into the kitchen carrying, it forces you to take a second and recognize it, and then ask the Lord to help you with it. That really changed that cooking process for me from a chore, something that I was doing for somebody else, into a moment of connection and transcendence where God really met me and poured into me.


[0:08:20] JR: Yeah. When we invite God into the work, whether that's in the kitchen or a cubicle or wherever it becomes sacred. You wrote in the book, “I now see cooking as a threshold into the transcendent, a time and space to invite God to transform the mundane into the sacred.” That's why we do this podcast. It's why I wrote my new book, The Sacredness of a Secular Work that drops in a couple of months to help our listeners see the sacredness of their seemingly secular and mundane work. All right. You got to tell this story from the book, though. Oh, my gosh. I'd never heard the story before and it blew my mind. The story of Robert Louis Stevenson.


[0:08:56] AS: Yeah.


[0:08:57] JR: Because I just thought this is a perfect picture of the purpose of our lives. Can you share that story?


[0:09:01] AS: Now, listen. I don't know how true the story is, but the second I heard it, it became how I – I was like this is a perfect description of how I want to live my life.


[0:09:10] JR: No need to fact check. The story holds.


[0:09:12] AS: Yeah. Robert Louis Stevenson lived in the time when there were gas lamps on the street. When the sunset, it was utter darkness, a apart from starlight. That was it. As a boy, he sat and looked out the window and watched as the lighters, these men probably would come with a flame and light the gas lamps. From his perspective, it was so magical that he cried out and he said, “Look, they're punching light into the darkness.” I just went, that's what I'm doing. My husband and I both were like, that is what we're doing.


I think my husband made a piece of art that somewhere on our wall that says that very thing. That there's this intentional, forceful, I guess, slightly violent punching of light, because it is necessary that by showing up where we are as temples of the Holy Spirit, as temples of His light, that's what we're doing. It may not feel like it. By the way, it probably felt pretty mundane to the gas lighters, but it marked Robert Louis Stevenson's life forever and therefore mine, yours, anybody that hears that story.


It's funny that you say that that's what your book is about and what this podcast is about, because as I think back on my life, there are so many moments where I feel like God was trying to teach me this story. I remember my dad telling me growing up on the southwest coast of India, where from a Catholic community, and the priest at his church was telling the congregation. I don't know how many of them could read, right? They’re farmers, they’re very soul to the earth people. They're coming to church to learn about Jesus, to worship Jesus, but they don't necessarily, they're not necessarily reading the Bible every day, right?


He said to them, “Yes, there is a lot about coming to church and in the Catholic church doing the sacraments and the whole nine.” He said, “When you're plowing the fields, that is your prayer.” That stuck with me, but I think it all led up to now to saying, okay, even in the really mundane things of life, how can I punch light? So, the thing that I'm trying to tell people through this devotional is that how you show up in the kitchen for me and for many people, because let's think about how we are, when we get into the kitchen around five o'clock, everybody has to eat, right? That's why the subtitle is for the Harried and Hungry, because I think that's how we show up.


I think that that is the greatest test of who we actually are. The greatest test is not when we're prayed up and ready to go. It's when we're unbelievably spent and hungry. That's the test of who you are. If I can show up at that moment, take a second, pray and invite God into that, then guess what? When I'm about to do other mundane things like laundry, picking up the kids, or going into a really tough meeting, working on a really hard project, working with people I don't like. I can invite God into that, because I'm in the practice of doing that already.


[0:12:24] JR: Yeah, it's good. That's Stevenson devotional. You're expanding upon 1 Peter 2:9, right, where Peter calls us a royal priesthood and you wrote, “We stand as the royal priesthood liaisons between heaven and earth. Our purpose is to punch light into the darkness.” But like go back to that difficult meeting that you mentioned a second ago, or working with difficult co-workers. I mean, I'm sure not everyone on the Food Network is a joy to work with. Sorry, right? Like how day-to-day are you punching light in the darkness as you go about the majority of your job, which probably is fairly mundane, even though it's glamorous and very public.


[0:13:04] AS: Yeah. Well, I'm definitely, like so many people listening to your podcast, working in a secular space, right? It's not a space where God has mentioned that often. The very act of saying, “Hey I'm going through this thing at home and I've really been praying about it.” Is earth-shattering.


[0:13:23] JR: It's crazy.


[0:13:25] AS: It's crazy.


[0:13:25] JR: Like that little thing that's so common in the church is crazy outside the four walls of it.


[0:13:30] AS: It's crazy to go. I'm not firstly seeking to sort this out on my own is I'm going to the maker of all things and saying, “Hey, can you help me out with this?” I think that that is helpful. Sometimes even talking about choices that I'm making. Things that I will not do. They can be small things. I won't lie about that. I won't tell a white lie about that, can make a huge impact to people, because they go, “Dude, that's like, that's very principled.” It's like, it really is just because I'm in love with Jesus. Therefore, why would I do anything that would offend Him? Just like, I'm in love with my husband. I'm going to do my best to make Him proud of me.


That can be helpful. I am very aware that quite often I might be the only Christian that some of these people will see or interact with that day, that week, that month, that year. There's a lot of misconceptions out there about what a Christian, sounds like, looks like, speaks like, does. I do try to sometimes picture myself with a little sash, like Miss North Carolina, like walking in there, going, okay, this is my job right now. That does sometimes involve like watching what I say, being quiet and thinking about what I say before I say it. It's offering to pray for people when they're in a hard moment.


It's staying super prayed up before I go on set. I can't say I'm always this way, but to stay super prayed up, so that I am super sensitive to any pushing leading that the Holy Spirit might be doing. I mean, just a few weeks ago, I got to pray for someone that I was working with. He didn't even know that he needed prayer, until I put my hand on his shoulder and I got so overwhelmed.


It's almost like I could feel everything, all the pain and everything that he was carrying. I said, “Hey, this sounds weird, but I feel like I'm supposed to pray for you.” He looked at me and he went, “Okay.” Like I was being weird. I was like, “So, I just want you to think about it. If there's anything that comes up, you let me know.” As I walked away, the makeup artist said to him, and this is one of my proudest moments. She goes, “Oh, that's what she does. That's what she does.”


[0:15:52] JR: That's what that Miss North Carolina weird Christian does.


[0:15:55] AS: That's what she does. She prays for people. She told her, her own experiences of me praying for her things that she had witnessed. He went, “Oh.” It opened him up. He sent me a list of things. I knocked on his door and I went in and he said, “Oh, I didn't know we were going to do this live.” I was like, “Well.”


[0:16:15] JR: IRL. Wow.


[0:16:16] AS: Yeah. In real life. I said, “Well, I want to do it live if it's okay with you, because I want you to know that I'm actually doing it.” We sat there and we prayed. By the end of it, he was crying and I was crying. It's still the highlight of that entire project together was that I got to pray with him, because I think for us, we get very used to the peace that we walk around with. We forget that that's really unusual. That most people are walking around with an enormous burden.


[0:16:48] JR: Are you super busy?


[0:16:50] AS: Yeah. Yeah.


[0:16:51] JR: How do you spot those opportunities? How do you make space in the schedule to see those that don't have that same level of peace that you do? Is there anything practically you do to position yourself to have eyes to see the pain around you and in those that you work with?


[0:17:10] AS: I mean, I will tell you, honestly, it's ironic that in the lead up to the release to this book, I mean when I was writing the book, I felt like, this is so hard, I'm not supposed – I can't do this. There's not enough time and all the things. I think I even posted about it on my Instagram, a photo of me just looking utterly spent. Then feeling like, “Oh, well, then I must be doing it wrong.” I think the truth is that story of the widow bringing her two mites and Jesus going, ‘that's enough’. That's actually more than enough.


We don't have to be reading six chapters a day and spending 20 minutes meditating on the word in order for God to work through us. I can't say that I'm always a great ambassador, you know what I mean? Like when that happened, I hadn't probably spent much time in prayer at all that day or that week, but God pushed through. That's one. Two is that often it's the people that not in this instance, but in other instances, it's the people that I have the most difficulty with, that are the ones that I need to pay most attention to, because A, I'm like “okay, why has God put this person in my path?”


“What do I need to learn about myself and my own weaknesses and my own ugliness that would make this person seem difficult to me?” Then sometimes they're difficult, because they're in pain. That sometimes can once I've taken that to the Lord, he can sometimes give me compassion for them. Then that opens up, I think space for me to watch for those moments where I can maybe speak into it.


[0:18:58] JR: Yeah. This is really good. Hey, you mentioned something in passing a few minutes ago about work being a God for you early in your career. I actually think I heard you post something explicitly about this on Instagram. Hold on. I'm pulling up the quote. Yeah, here it is. You said, “I haven't always been a Christian. I believed in the God of hard work.” go back to that moment. I know exactly what this feels like, right? How did work used to serve as a functional God for you? What did that look like?


[0:19:29] AS: I'm an immigrant. I was born in India. I grew up in Dubai. I went to a British school. So, for people who don't know, and are wondering where the accents from, there you go. As an immigrant, hard work is how we are responsible. How we move each generation a little more forward. My granddad was a farmer and my dad grew up on that farm. Their daily work was hard. You know what I mean? They were up before dawn. They were plowing the fields. They were feeding the animals. They were climbing coconut trees, like all the whole nine. Then here I am living in America, which is really that, that was the peak. That was the peak of the dream for my dad.


For so long, I mean, the rallying cry of the Sequeira household was, be useful, go do something, be responsible, work hard, don't rest on your laurels. My mom would say a lot. I think getting here and then getting to work at CNN, I was like, “Okay, here we go. This is it. I'm going to work hard. I'm going to do well. I'm going to be responsible with the gifts that I've been given. Therefore, I'm going to pull up the generation behind me and set up the generation in front of me.” That felt like the chief calling on my life. Then when that all crumbled and I wasn't working and I couldn't find a job, even though I knew that I was good, and even though everybody I worked with said that I was good. I mean, I remember there was a moment where there was a job that I was already doing in a freelance capacity that I thought I was going to get that I didn't. Everybody in the newsroom gasped about it.


Then I went, “Okay, what the heck is going on here?” It really – I think when I thought about myself, I said, Aarti Sequeira, Indian journalist, and that's where it stopped. I think having that all wrestled away from me caused me to go, I'm Aarti Sequeira, daughter of God. Then everything else fell second. That was a huge paradigm shift for me. Huge.


[0:21:38] JR: Well, yeah, it's not that the work isn't good. The work is good. It's just not an ultimate good, right? I know you and I share a love and appreciation for the late great Tim Keller that Keller talked about this all the time, right? This is what he called the work beneath our work. Using our work to essentially, we would never put in these terms, right? But like, we're essentially trying to earn our salvation, because we are trying to earn status and love and acceptance that it can only be ultimately fulfilled in Christ.


Maybe you resonate with this. Maybe you don't, like this is not something we're freed from one time and then just like move on. This is a constant struggle, right? So, like what are the symptoms you look for? We're like, “Oh, man, I'm slipping back into it.” Work is no longer just a good thing. It's becoming an ultimate thing once again. What are those symptoms for you?


[0:22:31] AS: I think for me, it's when I feel like it might go away and I get all tied up in knots that it's going to go and what's going to happen. It's funny you mentioned this, because I was reading the Bible this morning, because I am trying. I am. I was reading Matthew 2. It's the story of Jesus being born and Herod sending the wise men to find him. I was really broken in pieces by the point in the story where Herod decides that all male babies two and under would be murdered, because he was trying to find Jesus.


All of it was because Herod was a very paranoid man. He was self-made and he was the beginning of that whole Herod dynasty, Herod the Great. He felt like it all sat on his shoulders. So, then out of his fear and his paranoia and his sense that everything rests on my shoulders, it's all on me. He commits horrible, disgusting, tragic acts in order to keep himself safe and stable. I think for me when I start to get paranoid that it's all going to go away and it's all because I didn't do a good job or I'm not doing a good job or I'm not the right person, etc. etc. I have to take a breath and go, “Okay, this career, it was given to me as a complete and utter gift out of left field.” That is my story.


Yes, I worked hard when the opportunity was given to me, I work hard still, but it might get taken away from me. I've seen it get taken away from people. For no real good reason. It just ends. Then I have to go, “Okay, it was given to me for a good reason, it might get taken away from me for a good reason and I have to be okay with that, because I have to trust the giver and the taker. It's the same person, right? Yeah, I think that that's probably the biggest thing for me is when I start to get jealous of other people's blessings and start looking at my own career going, “it's all going away”.


[0:24:41] JR: Yeah. I think maybe my favorite devotional in your book Unwind was about this jealousy of other people's fruit and their fruitfulness. I thought this was like phenomenal. You talked about this in the context of lessons that you learned from your first year as a gardener, which I thought was like really, really interesting. Can you share that with our listeners and what you learned and what it means for the work we all do today and how we view our fruit and the fruit of those around us?


[0:25:09] AS: Here's what I can talk about, as far as that goes, I feel like, I don't know if it's always been this way, but to me, it feels like gardening has taken on a life of its own as far as social media goes. Maybe it's just the people that I follow. I started in my first year of gardening and my plants were not thriving. They did not look like other people's and I was watching other people's gardens grow.


I planted at the same time as they did. That's the interesting thing about where we are right now, right? Because of Instagram, I can see them planting and I'm like, “Yup, I just did it too.” Sometimes they're living in the same zone as I am. I know the weather, I know the rain, I know the sunshine, and their plants are thriving and mine aren't. It can feel like, oh, it's all my fault.


Now, there are things that I can do. I can check my soil. There's lots of things that could be going on. But ultimately, the thing I recognize is that, for example, my eggplant can never produce tomatoes, ever, right? Unless I graft it in somehow, it can't. That's not what it's meant to do. It's meant to produce eggplant. My tomato plant cannot produce peas. So, the things that I am here for, I will produce those things. I cannot have the same fruit as my friend Antonia, right? She's got the path that she's on and I've got the fruit that I am set to produce. It will come in its time.


The first year of gardening was horrific. I produced nothing. It was ugly. It grossed me out. There was a little bit of like soil poisoning, I think going on this second year. I had so much fruit, I didn't know what to do with it. It really does – it's that thing that Paul talks about, like we plant the seed, Apollo waters it, but really, it's God that causes it to grow.


[0:27:07] JR: 1 Corinthians 3. Yeah.


[0:27:09] AS: Yeah. I've come to see that in my own life. There are things that I'm getting to do that I know that some of my friends would give their left arm to be doing. It just fell into my lap. It's a mark of like greatness, right? For example, so in November, I have my first products coming out on QVC. That is huge, right? That's something that you say and a lot of chefs will go, “Oh, my gosh. How did you get that?” Right? I can't tell them it fell into my lap. Yet, I look at some of the things that they're doing and I go, “Oh, my gosh I would love to do that. I would love to host my own show.” It's not my time yet. It may not be my fruit ever.


The advantage that I have is that I know who's causing things to grow. I know that he is good and he's wise and he has always, always, always written a better story for me than I could have ever written. My email address back in the day was I am a storyteller, but he's always been better than I am. That having, being able to take a breath and go, “Okay, he is the storyteller. I just have to trust His timing.” Has helped a lot.


[0:28:22] JR: Yeah. I think this is a big deal for our listeners, just comparing their fruit to other peoples. Yeah, I just always come back to 1 Corinthians 3. I mean, I think that's the key. Recognizing that if God is growing the fruit to Him producing the results, then I have no right to be – I have no right to number one, the fruit that I'm experiencing in my own work. I certainly have no right to be jealous of the fruit that God has chosen to give the righteous and the unrighteous that I'm comparing myself to, right?


[0:28:54] AS: Yeah. I think that sometimes we fall into the trap of going, “But they're not doing what I do. They're not reading their Bible. They're not they're not even Christians, Lord, like what in the world?” We can fall into that trap without even consciously saying that out loud.


[0:29:09] JR: Yes. 100%. Yes.


[0:29:12] AS: I have to catch myself. I know I have 100% done that. Yeah, I mean, it does come back to the clay questioning the potter. I just was saying that to my kids the other day, is you're the clay and you're in the hands of the potter and who decides what shape the clay is going to be? Not the clay. The potter does.


[0:29:34] JR: That's exactly right. Yeah. I laughed out loud. The one time I laughed literally out loud reading your cookbook, was this fleeting mention you made about coffee on the new earth. You wrote, “Oh, my goodness. I just imagine what coffee tastes like in heaven.” “OH, MY GOSH. CAN YOU IMAGINE?” What do you think coffee is going to be like on the new earth? What are we going to experience? Like, no coffee grounds at the bottom of our cup? I don't know. It's going to be amazing.


[0:30:08] AS: Yeah. I think that there are going to be aspects of flavor that we don't even know right now. You know what I mean? Like we have –


[0:30:16] JR: Like hidden dimensions of flavor.


[0:30:18] AS: Yeah. I mean, we think that we've so boxed our palette in, right, salty, sweet, sour, spicy, umami. We have those, but I think that there's probably at least 15 more that we're not aware of. It's like, I love watching those videos of people who are colorblind and then they put the glasses on and they're just, I mean, speechless and almost fall over at the things that they can now see.


I remember watching one and he said, “You've been seeing this this whole time.” He just couldn't believe that his wife was walking around seeing all the colors that she did. I think that's what it's going to feel like when we start tasting things in eternity that there are going to be flavors and we're like, “Wait, this was here the whole time and I didn't know about it.” I also think that there will be things like, “I can only drink so much coffee before I get acid reflux or I can't go to sleep. I just think that those things will disappear.”


[0:31:24] JR: It's amazing. No, that's exactly right. Last time you were on the podcast. We talked about how scripture makes it crystal clear that number one, heaven is ultimately on earth. Number two, there's food, choice foods on the new earth and number three, we just touched on this last time, but some cultural goods from this life will be on the new earth. See Revelation 21 and Isaiah 60. I'm willing to bet that includes coffee, right, like I just, I'd be hard pressed to not find coffee on the new earth. I guess my question for you Aarti as a chef is like, how does the fact that eternity is earthy, right, a material, encourage you in the earthy work that you do most of the time.


[0:32:13] AS: Oh, I suppose it's that sense of this is just the beginning. That there's so much more ahead and that also, that this is not for nothing, that the way that I enjoy things now is going to feed into and set me up to enjoy things even more than, right? Even the way that I struggle with things now, the struggle of getting the bitterness out of coffee, let's say, or getting just the right amount of bitterness into your coffee. That struggle will make the ease with which I drink a cup of coffee in heaven, so much sweeter. I think that that's helpful. I like this idea that this is just through a glass darkly, that this is just a quiet echo of what life will be like in eternity, because I think we have this idea that, “Oh, we're just going to sit around and feast all day.” I think that there's going to be work in heaven.


[0:33:12] JR: Yeah. Scripture makes that pretty clear. Yeah.


[0:33:14] AS: Yeah. I think it's going to be unbelievably satisfying. It might be hard, but we'll have Jesus like plowing the field right next to us. I think the idea that there's more ahead is so exciting and that it'll be a time where it won't feel like toil. I think that was something that – that word is in Genesis, at least in my memory, at the schism.


[0:33:41] JR: Yeah. Genesis 3.


[0:33:42] AS: When everything breaks, that word toil, I was like, “Oh, yeah, that's the thing. I think we were built for work.” That was one of the first things I think that God said to Adam, “You will work.” I don't think it was meant to feel as backbreaking and as heart-wrenching as it feels to us now. So, that's really exciting to me. Yeah. Super exciting.


[0:34:03] JR: Yeah. I just pulled up this poem. I couldn't fit it into The Sacredness of Secular Work. It's on the threshing floor, but listen to Rudyard Kipling's poem about work on the new earth. He's more theologically astute than most. He says, “When earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried, when the oldest colors have faded and the youngest critic has died. We shall rest” – present heaven, right, “And faith we shall need it. Lie down for an eon or two till the master of all good workmen shall put us to work anew.” He's talking about the new earth, right? “No one shall work for the money and no one shall work for the fame, but each for the joy of working and each in a separate star shall draw the thing as he sees it for the God of things as they are.” Like dang. Yes. Like the dishes you make, you're going to be creating dishes forever on the new earth that you can't even imagine right now.


[0:35:05] AS: Possibly they'll all work.


[0:35:09] JR: Yes. Right. Exactly.


[0:35:10] AS: The failed dishes or the imperfect dishes that I make now, that there will be something about how I throw things together then that will always work. My husband and I have been watching 1923, the Taylor Sheridan prequel to Yellowstone. We watched the final episode last night and I went, “I just can't with the show.” He goes, “Why?” I said, “Well, especially this episode, it just feels like every effort they make is dashed. They keep trying to go forward and something horrible keeps happening.” Man, doesn't it sometimes feel like that here, that you keep trying, you keep trying and something keeps coming against you.


I love this idea that, well, even here that the story is not over, right? We're not on the final page yet. That even when we get to be with the Lord that the story is not over yet. Actually, in a way, the story is never over, but at that point, because we'll be there with him. It'll feel so much easier. I don't know if it means it'll be victory after victory, but I think it might feel like that, because we'll be right there in His presence.


[0:36:19] JR: That's really good. Aarti, three questions we wrap up every episode with number one. Which books do you find yourself gifting most frequently to others? Like if we pulled open your Amazon order history, what book would we see over and over and over again?


[0:36:33] AS: Okay. I can think of two right off the top of my head, because I'm staring at them. Number one is the Jesus storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.


[0:36:41] JR: I Love it so much.


[0:36:42] AS: I give that to grownups and kids.


[0:36:46] JR: Yeah. Me too, by the way, that's my answer to this question.


[0:36:49] AS: Oh, good. Yeah, I just think that this idea that the Old Testament tells the story of the New Testament is so good. I don't think I completely understood it until I read that book to my kids. I love it. I love that book. The other one is I often give, The Illuminated Bible to people as a gift, because I think looking at something beautiful. I think about the book of Kells and the old written scripture, where they would take so much time. Years, and years, and years by hand to make scripture beautiful.


Maybe it's also, that I'm Indian that I like things that are ornate, I like gold, shiny, lots of color. I've given the illuminated Bible to people so that – because I have it. Every time I open it, it helps me see the Bible as something precious, beautiful ornate, but jeweled rather than just this thing that I really should be consulting every day.


[0:37:54] JR: Was that a Taylor Swift, midnight Easter egg, you dropped there?


[0:37:58] AS: No.


[0:37:58] JR: You do? Oh, geez. Wow. I was like, “Dang, that was impressive.” Well done. By the way, I think the most fun thing you did in the last 18 months was post that takedown of Taylor Swift's karma.


[0:38:08] AS: Oh, gosh.


[0:38:09] JR: I mean, I'm all about midnights, but karmas got to go.


[0:38:12] AS: Oh, dude. That was the first time that I was like, “Man, the Swifties come in hard.”


[0:38:18] JR: Oh, oh, they don't joke. They don't mess around.


[0:38:21] AS: They do not like you to say she is perfect in their eyes. I'm like, “Oh, my goodness, at some point she's going to do something that is going to cause her to crumble before you and you're going to have a really hard time with that, because she's not perfect.


[0:38:35] JR: It's because she's gone to many people. My wife and I went to the Eras Tour and everyone's like, “Oh, how was the show?” I was like, number one takeaway. Everybody worships. Everybody worship something, because that is a giant worship that endless of like, I love Taylor, right?


[0:38:50] AS: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


[0:38:51] JR: But man, man, man. We can in our phone cells take that way too far. By the way, have you seen the book of Kells in person in Ireland?


[0:38:58] AS: Never in person. Never in person.


[0:39:01] JR: Oh, it's incredible.


[0:39:02] AS: It's so beautiful. Yeah. I mean, and those are the things where we can sometimes look down our nose at like, “Oh, look at these cathedrals and the thousands of pounds and dollars that they spent to them could have been used on the poor.” I completely understand that, but to me, it's this idea of like, we venerate and worship and hold God in such high regard that we are willing to expend ourselves everything we have, our time, our money, our resources to build Him something beautiful and to showcase Him and showcase our veneration of Him. We've moved away from that in ways or maybe we show it differently. To me, there's still nothing like walking into a beautiful, beautiful old church that someone stood and cricked their neck for hours to paint the ceiling of.


[0:39:56] JR: Yeah. I agree. Hey, second question. Aarti, who would you most want to hear in this podcast talking about how their faith shapes the work they do in the world?


[0:40:04] AS: Well, Tim Keller, but he passed.


[0:40:08] JR: Tim was on a few times. Yeah.


[0:40:10] AS: Oh, gosh. I still listen to sermons of his, because it's like, I need to hear from my granddad a little. You know who I love and she's a friend, but I think that would be so helpful to all of us who follow Jesus is. Her name is Alisa Keeton and she has revolutionized the way that I look at my body, because I think that's so often in our effort to not focus on the flesh and to eschew the flesh, we have disregarded our body. We have dishonored our bodies and not seen them as something that God has given us as a tool, as a resource, as the very encasement of His Holy Spirit. She has really helped me to honor my body, to listen to my body, to go, okay, what does that a campaign say to me? Why am I ignoring it? Those sorts of things. I think bringing – we carry our bodies into our workplaces, right? I think that she would be really interesting.


[0:41:12] JR: Interesting. I hadn't thought about that, but no, that's a great name I've never heard that name mentioned on the podcast before, but obviously I'm familiar with Alyssa's workout. Yeah.


[0:41:19] AS: Yeah. Well, then you know. She helps me, she'll send me texts constantly like, how are you doing? How's your body doing? Those are two – they feel two different things, especially for women. I think how are you doing and how is your body doing feel like two different questions?


[0:41:36] JR: Yeah. Interesting. Very interesting. All right. Hey, before we sign off already, I want you to leave our listeners with one thing. You're talking to a global audience of mere Christians who do a lot of different things vocationally, right? Some of them are chefs like yourself. Some of them are entrepreneurs. Some of them are mechanics. What do you want to leave them with to encourage them into good works God's prepared in advance for them to do?


[0:42:01] AS: I'm coming off a two-and-a-half-month stint of being on the road and being on. I try not to be on. I try to be the same in person as I am at home, but there is something about that. I'm exhausted. I didn't do it perfectly. So, I guess it's two things I want to say is one, that's okay. It's okay that I didn't do it perfectly. That doesn't mean I'm not going to try, but I think the thing about trying to do things as unto the Lord is that my face is always in His direction. The thing that I've learned over the past two-and-a-half months is that's enough. Sometimes that's enough for Him to do really beautiful the plates of the earth have moved over the past two-and-a-half months in terms of the way that I've been able to bring Jesus to someone or the way that Jesus has moved in me that I don't have to do it perfectly for his perfect will to be done.


[0:42:58] JR: Amen. Very well said. Aarti, I want to commend you for the extraordinary work you do. Man, I just love everything you're doing, everything you're doing on air, off air for the glory God and the good others. Thank you for reminding our listeners today that work is a good thing, but it's not an ultimate thing, right? That frees us from the work beneath our work, so that we can just fully engage in the work with God and for Him. Hey friends, I seriously cannot recommend this Devotional Cookbook enough. It's called Unwind: A Devotional Cookbook for the Harried and Hungry. Aarti, thanks for hanging out with us today.


[0:43:30] AS: Thank you so much.




[0:43:33] JR: I always love catching up with Aarti. That was such a fun conversation. Hey, if you're enjoying the Mere Christian Podcast, do me a favor and take 30 seconds to go leave a review of the show. Thank you, guys so much for tuning in. I'll see you next week.