I recently shared this story with a friend — it is a story I’ve often told about myself.
When I was 8, my family (Mom, Dad and I) went to Knott’s Berry Farm in California. Sometime in the afternoon my parents announced that we were going to eat at the real restaurant there — where they served their “famous” fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits with Knott’s Berry jams and jellies (you get the picture) and I told them I wasn’t much interested. In fact, I was just plain cranky about the whole thing.
I don’t remember much of the next hours which did include standing in line to eat in this place I really didn’t even want to eat in — but I do remember my mom telling me that I was just hungry and hot and tired and once I had some food in my stomach, it would all look better.
I doubted it.
In fact, I was certain that she was totally wrong.
My parents ordered for me from the menu because I would not make a choice (which was especially funny since there wasn’t much choice to make). I didn’t want any of it. The food came rather quickly and I was told I was required to at least try everything.
It was the most delicious meal I’d ever eaten. The sun came out from behind the dark clouds, the birds began to sing again, life was good and I loved everyone.
That day became a defining moment for me. As I continued to grow into adolescence and into adulthood, when I had lost perspective in one way or another, my mom would ask me whether or not I though this might be a Knott’s Berry Farm kind of thing. When it was, just realizing that often enough gave me the strength to “keep standing in line and to take that first bite.”
These days, my Knott’s Berry Farm experiences usually relate to meals that are figurative rather than literal. Sometimes they come when I am too busy to be consistently and deeply connecting with God through his Word.
They also come when I let various things get in the way of connecting consistently and deeply with friends. I’ve been watching myself long enough to know that sometimes when I’m most in need of the support of friends, I isolate myself from them. Why? I don’t want to humble myself and reveal my own brokenness. I don’t want to burden people with my baggage. I don’t want to “need” anyone too much. There are all sorts of reasons I do this. You can add to this list because some of you do it too.
Here is the thing that is absolutely amazing to me: when I am in a Knott’s Berry Farm season in my life, God, in his great and gracious mercy does not leave me standing alone out in the heat and in my own misery. Not for long, anyhow. He moves me along and places an order and provides a table and some AC — and he usually does it through people. He humbles me so I will let him lift me up. I love that about him.
While some people seem to think that when we are good, God pours out his blessing, I’ve found that God pours out his blessing NOT AT ALL based on my goodness or badness, but according to his character. It is not about me at all — though it is an invitation for me to join him in the pouring, to be a vessel or channel of himself in the lives of others.