One day a friend decides to celebrate the recent promotion of another in her circle. She works for weeks in preparation. Choosing the right invitations, spending hours personalizing each one before they are sent. She scours the markets to find the best ingredients for the meal she has painstakingly planned. In the days leading up to the big night, she labors over each course with impeccable style, technique, and timing. Soon the guests arrive and are seated around her table. With flair, she presents each perfectly plated dish. Her guests are overjoyed and heap praise on each course. All, that is, except the guest of honor. He picks at the food, moves it around a bit, but he never takes one bite. He even snubs the cheesecake dessert which she knows he loves. Finally, the exasperated host asks the man what is wrong with the meal. “I really appreciate all that you’ve done,” he begins. “It all looked and smelled wonderful, you did a fantastic job” A sentiment that the others at the table agreed with. “But, well, I, um, what I’d really like is a hotdog and just a bit of ketchup.”
None of us would do that right? We wouldn’t desire a hotdog over an expertly prepared, freely offered, 5-course meal, would we? Of course not, but we do. How often do men and women approach God on their own terms instead of desiring the banquet He has prepared? A line in one of David’s psalms reads, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8, NLT) Often we come to God demanding hotdogs, they may not seem like hotdogs to us, but that’s all they are in God’s eyes. We want God to meet our demands, to provide for us on our terms, not even dreaming that God has something better for us in mind. Another verse in the Bible says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”” (1 Corinthians 2:9b, NLT) God’s table is plated with immeasurable love, unshakable peace, unspeakable joy, immutable hope, unconquerable faith, unceasing grace, overflowing life, and so much more.
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take our struggles and challenges to Him. Jesus invites us to ask Him to touch our finances, our relationships, our health, and any other mountain in our life. But following Jesus is so much more than just looking for Him to fix our troubled times. There is joy unspeakable in knowing Jesus, in spending time in His presence, in worshipping Him because of His love for us, and in watching His hand touch our lives and that of others. I know that the mountainous trouble in front of you right now may seem impossible to climb, the pain impossible to manage. the slimy pit of despair impossible to climb out of. I’m not minimizing those feelings or circumstances in any way. But I am encouraging you, I am cheering you on, to look beyond those things. Taste the banquet that Jesus has prepared for you. See if He does not love you and care about you and know you by name. Experience joy that surpasses all of the troubles, challenges, pains, and heartaches that the world can throw at you.