This is the “Herb’s Special” from my favorite restaurant. It has one taco, one tamale, and rice (or beans – your choice), and yes, it is named after me. The story is that I have been going there nearly everyday since they opened. Quite often I would order a taco, a tamale, and a side of rice. Eventually I suggested that they just add it to the menu and call it “Herb’s Special”. Well it made it as a periodic feature to the daily special’s board, and now it is on the new menus that are being printed (I saw an advanced copy). You have to seriously invest in your favorite eatery to get close to this sort of “immortalization”.
The other day, I started craving the “Herb’s Special” at about 10am. Not good. By the time I made the walk to the restaurant and sat down, I was eager. The waiter came up and I enthusiastically ordered the “Herb’s Special. He was happy to take my order and I was happily anticipating the goodness to come. Well, about 3 minutes later, he comes back and says they did not have any tamales made that day. Devastation I tell you – complete and utter devastation. Now what?
Of course, the entire menu is scrumptious, so there was no real danger of going away unsatisfied, so I ordered another “Herb typical” – 3 tacos, with guac’ on top. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal while listening to David Crowder via my spiftaculous bluetooth stereo headphones. I left just as happy as I always am after a great meal at El Rodeo.
So, I was doing some heavy thinking about Thrive Church – the people. Why are we all here? I mean, I know why I am here. I know that even if I were not the pastor I would be a part of Thrive. But what of others? What is it about Thrive that causes people to want to be a part of it? Is it the preaching (hahaha), or the music (yum), or the AM Exchange (awesome), or the Prayer Chapel (sanctuary!)? I think if we took all that away, I would still be at Thrive Church. Here’s why: I’ve never sensed His presence so strongly as in this place.
I believe that God is present in all His churches in full measure. So, what makes the difference that I sense at Thrive? Relationships. It is because of our relationships that God shines so brightly to me. Other people, in other churches, can and do say the same thing about God;s presence at their churches. And for them too, even if they do not realize it, it is not because God is more present there than anywhere else. It’s just that the relationships are stronger in some places than in others, and that is why God’s presence “feels” stronger in some churches than others.
It does not matter what we “have on the plate” at Thrive – I always leave the place thoroughly satisfied – my cup overflowing – and eager to return. Case in point: last night, we did one of my least favorite things: Christmas caroling. But guess what? I had a great time with my friends at Thrive, and I finally got my Christmas cheer on too! Why? Because of the love of God shining through the people of Thrive – being together was enough to obliterate my discomfort.
So here’s the taco theology wrap-up: There is a “Herb’s Special” on the menu because El Rodeo is my favorite eatery. I have invested a lot into them (not just money), and they have invested a lot into me. They know I love the place and introduce lots of people to their great establishment. In return, they really take care of me. Sometimes I get a free meal, or extra portions, or a complimentary scoop of guacamole. Sometimes they let me into their personal space too. They know my name, and I know many of their names. So, why is it my favorite eatery? It is because of the relationships that we share there.
Want to sense God stronger in your church? Then, invest in the relationships at your church – and allow the love of God and His presence to shine through them. When everything else fails (and trust me, many things – and people – will), the strength of the relationships is what will determine your ability to make it through.
In His grip,