My son, Stephen, loved peanut butter sandwiches. Actually love is too mild. He — LOVED peanut butter sandwiches. Every meal, he wanted a peanut butter sandwich: not a peanut butter sandwich with jelly; just a (well you get the picture.) We traveled to restaurants having to carry a paper bag that contained — you guessed it: a peanut butter sandwich.
Can you imagine the looks we received from waiters? “We would like two shrimp dinners. By the way, my son brought his own food. Nothing personal! Do you mind?”
Stephen was also very stubborn. Especially when it came to his eating habits. When he set his little mind to something, it was like trying to stop a freight train. I don’t know where he picked up that trait? (You can stop laughing now.)
“Would you like a hot dog?”
“No!” You could see his look of determination.
“How about some spaghetti?”
“No!” A tear was beginning to form in one eye.
“Please eat the broccoli?”
“No! I want my peanut butter sandwich!!”
As a parent, I simply could not let this continue. Something had to be done! (I know better now but Stephen was my first child. I hadn’t read the training manual.) My son could end up in college still eating those same peanut butter sandwiches. Can you imagine his first job interview — over lunch? Oh, the shame of it all! Somehow, someway, Stephen needed to broaden his eating habits and I was determined to help him change. A showdown was brewing!
The day of the big battle started innocently enough. “I have to run a few errands. Why don’t you come with me, Stephen?” We pulled into the restaurant before the lunch crowd arrived. “Let’s get something to eat.” I ordered the food and began setting it on the table. The inevitable question beginning the first skirmish soon came: “Where is my peanut butter sandwich?”
“I didn’t bring a peanut butter sandwich, son. Why don’t you eat this hamburger?” (Can you imagine having to force someone to eat a hamburger? Is the world out of alignment?)
That determined look appeared on his face and the tears began. “No! I want my peanut butter sandwich!”
“Son, there will be no peanut butter sandwich today. You are going to eat this hamburger!” As father and son squared off in a quiet restaurant, I recalled an old sales lesson. In a battle of stares the one who looks away first, loses. This time, I would not, could not and dared not lose!
Slowly, with a tear trickling down his cheek, he picked up the hamburger and took his first bite… His face slowly changed from a frown to a slight smile. Then he took a second bite and a third. Then Stephen actually reached for a french fry. Wow! As Mikey would say: “He liked it! He liked it!”
Larry is there a point to this story? Of course there is. My son settled for the security of peanut butter and overlooked a smorgasbord of delectable food to savor.
In many ways, don’t we all? We seek security and pass on new opportunities, which although involving risks, also lead to golden opportunities.
He complains about his job but never goes back to school to acquire new skills.
She says: “I’m lonely” and stays home watching TV.
Many of our churches cry out, “We want to be alive! We want to grow in our faith! We want to receive new families! We want a youth ministry! We want to make a difference in the world!” Yet so few churches are willing to venture beyond what they already know is safe.
It’s time to break the Peanut Butter habit!
For many years, I served as a pastor of small, medium and large churches. During those years we took a lot of risks together. At times, just like my son, we stubbornly clung to our peanut butter habits. At times we took risks and God blessed us. Sometimes our ideas worked, sometimes they didn’t. But in the end, we grew stronger as we sampled God’s amazing menu.
Jesus said this about food. “I have food you don’t know about. My nourishment comes from doing the will of God. Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around us and are ready now for the harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!” (Parts of John 4:31-36)
- Jesus has a great menu waiting for us –
- We receive nourishment doing the will of God –
- Vast Fields are ripening all around you –
- You will be paid good wages –
- The fruit will be people brought to eternal life –
- What joy awaits the planter and harvester alike –
Look at all those promises of good food!
Are you settling for a peanut butter sandwich when God offers so much more? Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at your relationship with God and with your church?
- Venture out and sign up for a Bible study.
- Join a small group that meets to pray and offer godly encouragement.
- Suggest starting a prayer group at work.
- Volunteer to help a neighbor in need.
- Serve on a mission project.
- Set aside more time for prayer.
Why settle for peanut butter when God offers: steak, lobster, salads, chocolate cake pizza. Well, you get the picture. (And I’m getting hungry!)
Stephen is now grown, happily married with a son of his own. I am so proud of all of them. There is only one problem. He still won’t eat broccoli!