WORDS FROM W.W. March 30, 2011
The other night Carol and I went to a Mongolian barbecue restaurant. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s a place where you decide what you want in your stir-fry combination by adding different ingredients to a bowl. You then take the bowl to the cooks manning the grill and they cook it for you and then dump it on to a plate. The ingredients include about half a dozen kinds of meat and seafood, an assortment of veggies, and about a dozen sauces that you can choose from. In reality it’s a glorified buffet!
Mongolian barbecue is a no-risk establishment. If you don’t care for your plate full of food, you can simply shove it to the side and go fill up another bowl. If I don’t like the tofu too, bad for the restaurant!
If I want all meat and no veggies, it’s my choice!
“Mom, don’t tell me what to pick!”
When I was growing up Mom put the food on the table. It was not a buffet. A meat dish…most of the time. A vegetable. A potato item. A piece of bread or a biscuit or skillet cornbread. That was it. If you didn’t like it…it wasn’t going to be shipped to a hungry child in India. It was going to be eaten…by you! Thank God my mom and dad were both great cooks. No giant dumplings with an Alka-Seltzer chaser!
In comparing those two ways of food consumption, I often feel that Christians follow the first method in regards to their faith walk. “God, show me the way after I determine the ingredients!”
We seldom travel out of our spiritual comfort zones, because we’re not sure we’d like it very well. Better safe then sorry, even if it’s to God that we’re saying “sorry” to!
I read this quote the other day from Eugene Peterson that resonates uncomfortably in my spirit. He writes:
“Praying puts us as risk of getting involved in God’s conditions. Be slow to pray. Praying most often doesn’t get us what we want, but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests.”
Perhaps that’s why many of us shy away from prayer. It puts us at risk of not being able to make the decision about what we put on our plate. Deep down inside I think most of us know that God knows best, and we are frequently irritated by that truth. We think that if God created tofu he’s got something planned for our life plate that will result in a waste of space and time.
“Praying most often doesn’t get us what we want, but what God wants…”
That is strangely comforting. Not comfort food, just comforting.
I’m going to chew on that for a while.