Summary: If we do not understand what God does for us every day, then we will not receive what He wants to do when we really need Him. Sometimes He must withdraw from us because our abundance blinds us. (Communion message)
If we do not understand what God does, every day, then we will not receive what He wants to do when we really need Him.
If with both minds and hearts we do not grasp that it is God who provides for us, day after day, even when we don’t think we need Him, then our minds will be closed and our hearts will be hardened when crisis comes, and we want His help.
This past weekend many of us reveled in the symbols of our nation’s freedom. We flew the flag, we watched the fireworks displays, we hung out on the Mall. We sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America". We listened to the Marine Band pump out Sousa marches. The symbols of America. Images which capture for us the spirit of our nation.
But I have another image that sticks in my head. I have another picture of America. My picture is the salad bar. The salad bar.
Let me tell you a story about why the salad bar is an image of America, and of our national spiritual condition.
A number of years ago, our family had gone to Ocean City for a week in the sun and sand. One night we decided to go to one of those restaurants that offers an all-you-can-eat salad bar. At salad bars you can legally pig out, you are expected to pig out. And, oh, the wonderful illusions that go along with salad bars.
You tell yourself you are getting a bargain, all you can eat for one price. Of course, you don’t think about the fact that most of the stuff there is very inexpensive anyway. But it feels like a bargain. I always get the blue cheese dressing, because when I was growing up, restaurants made you pay more for blue cheese. Salad bar means all the blue cheese dressing you want.
And you tell yourself this is healthy. Look at all the greens and the veggies I’m eating. This is good for me. Never mind that in the eggs, the bacon bits, the salad dressing, you have put in more calories and more cholesterol than a month at Mickey D’s. You still like to think it’s healthy. Heart healthy. An Illusion.
Well, that night we had all gone through the salad bar, picking up all we wanted, and we had just sat down at our table, about to bow our heads and ask the Lord to bless this mess. But our attention was caught by two people who had begun a truly serious assault on the salad bar. Both of them had paid for salad to go, which meant they were each given two Styrofoam plates: one to hold the salad and the other to provide a top. We watched in both amusement and horror as they piled on huge mounds of everything: lettuce, spinach, beets, peppers, eggs, croutons, Cole slaw, mushrooms, carrots, cheese, on and on ... at least six inches high -- and then they bathed it all in enormous spoonfuls of blue cheese, my blue cheese, so much and so high that when they finally finished and put the other Styrofoam plate on top, all this glop and goop came oozing out, running down their arms, and cascading down to the floor in great green gobs of greasy, grimy. Incredible! Just incredible!
A symbol of America? Why? Why is the salad bar my mental image of our spiritual condition? Because we expect abundance. Because we indulge in abundance. Because we think that having enough and more than enough is a way of life, it is a right, it is what we expect.
And because at the very moment a few of us were bowing our heads to offer up prayer to thank the Father for what we had, somebody else was out there blithely taking, taking, taking, I suspect with no thought of who had provided it.
The point is what, then? That in this free land we have held this truth to be self-evident: that we want what we want when we want it, and give no thought to where it comes from. However, I am going to argue today that if we do not understand what God does, every day, then we will not receive what He wants to do when we really need Him.
If with both minds and hearts we do not grasp that it is God who provides for us, day after day, even when we don’t think we need Him, then our minds will be closed and our hearts will be hardened when the crisis comes, and we want His help.
To make it simple, if we don’t see God in our daily bread, or at the salad bar, then we will not understand what He does in the lean times.