One of the greatest things about the south is the food – the cooks in the south are unparalleled. I am not just talking about all the mom-and-pop restaurant cooks, I am also talking about all the “regular” moms and dads who regularly produce magnificently succulent meals. Every Sunday, I secretly hope that one of our great cooks would invite my family to lunch – not because I think they should, but because I love to eat great southern food. My mouth is already watering from thinking about buttery home-made biscuits, rich sausage gravy, buttery slow-cooked white beans, fresh wild catfish, tender kettle stewed green beans with bacon, creamy oven-baked macaroni and cheese, savory potato salad, crisp coleslaw, peppery fried potatoes, crunchy fried okra, and juicy southern fried chicken. Are you hungry yet?
I have also traveled a lot, and eaten a lot of different foods, from New York City to Los Angeles. Sometimes it was difficult to get past my nose (kemshi)! Sometimes I had no clue what the actual ingredients were! Interestingly, I have discovered that no matter how strange or exotic the meal and no matter how far removed from the southern cuisine I love, my hunger was always satisfied. All I had to do was eat.
From the very beginning of my Christian walk there always seemed to be some discussion about the food on THE banqueting table. You know the one I am talking about – the banqueting table that is the Lord’s kingdom. Yes, someday we will all feast at His banqueting table in heaven, but until that time the banqueting table manifests itself as the church – the banqueting table is our churches. It is here that we feast upon His grace through Jesus. It is here where we come to be filled with His Spirit’s greatness. It is here where we gather, as His family, to “feast” with our Heavenly Father. Yet, many times, our conversations around this table are not about Him at all – they are about us. We don’t like the way the beans are prepared. We don’t like that particular kind of roll. We think the meat portions are too small, and the dessert not sweet enough. “We are not being fed”, we say.
And when we stand up from the table to go about our everyday lives, we place the blame for our hunger on the food that is on the table. Sometimes, we even blame those who prepared it. Sometimes we carry our hunger to other places, lamenting the lack of real food. We seek fulfillment at other tables and we soon discover that the satisfaction from this new table quickly fades. So, off to another table we go – never finding satisfaction for our increasing hunger.
However, the truth is that we have been looking to the wrong things to satisfy our hunger. The particular food dishes on the table are not what satisfies. There is a common spice that finds its way into every dish – every morsel. Its aroma fills our nostrils hinting at the goodness that is to be found. Its flavor consumes the palate and brings satisfaction to our souls. This spice, this common aroma, this common flavor is none other than the Lord our God.
It does not matter what appetizers are provided nor how they are prepared. It does not really matter what meat is provided nor how it is prepared. It does not matter what accoutrement is provided nor how it is prepared. It does not matter what dessert we are served, nor how it is prepared. What matters is that we come to the table desperately hungry for The Spice – that our souls long for The Lord. With all the love and compassion I can muster, I am compelled to say this: “If you are hungry enough you will eat anything.” So, are you hungry enough?