I'm simultaneously the empress who wants to please the crowd and the gladiator fighting for life.
The juice-thirsty crowd jeers: "I no want dis cheese!" "We ate turkey sandwiches yesterday. Can you make something that doesn't have turkey, ple-e-e-ase?" "[High-pitched shrieking that only dogs can hear.]" "I no like jelly anymo; I only like peanut butter!"
And then all the silverware crashes to the floor and echoes in eternity. The gladiator quells the ravenous lunch beasts by tossing javelins of carrot sticks onto their plastic plates. Sometimes I feel like roaring back: Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?
This description of lunchtime sounds rather extreme, doesn't it? Of course I'm exaggerating (a little), but only to make this point:
The cacophony in the kitchen coliseum seems perilous, but it is nothing in comparison to the ravaging lions of selfishness in our hearts.
"A simple 'thank you' would be sufficient," I claim. But really, that's not all I want. My sinful heart desires worship.
Truth is, I would rather not be bothered with serving rude sinners. My heart is preoccupied with what I don't have but feel like I deserve. If only everyone existed to serve me.
No matter how many turkey sandwiches are flying, lunchtime rush is not the most disorganized chaos. My thoughts that run contrary to the Word of Christ are more rebellious. I'm the biggest, rudest sinner in the lot.
Weapons at the Table
I could always use a more fine-tuned philosophy or practical system for executing graceful lunchtimes. Practical tips abound for how to serve up nutritious foods quickly and cheerfully to hungry little mouths. One friend of mine has said she needs practical tips on how to wade through the Mariana Trench of practical tips!
I'm constantly tweaking our routines as circumstances fluctuate. But what I desperately need more than any new tip that promises to reduce my chaos is the stability that comes from tasting the excellencies of the Lord's love.
In other words, I need to bring my weapons to the table. We took our girls to see the new Disney movie, Brave. In the movie, the queen chides, "No weapons at the table!" The princess had brought her bow and arrows to the family meal. The king retorts, "Princess or not, learning to fight is essential."
Learning to fight our sin is essential in the Christian life. God has given us weapons of warfare that are not of the flesh. These weapons have divine power to destroy strongholds and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). The sword of the Spirit is God's Word (Eph. 6:17) that can take captive marauding thoughts.
Since our joy in Christ is at stake, this fight is personal. Arguments raised against the knowledge of God take no prisoners. Every day I hear echoes of the hissing serpent's lies that God does not love me. I need to renew my mind (Rom. 12:2).
In God's Word I learn about his love for me. I read about the apex of God's love for me demonstrated when the holy Son of God gave his life on the cross as a sacrifice for my sin. I'm awestruck to hear that Jesus died to free me so that I could love him. I'm dumbfounded that Jesus loves me even though I fail time and again to love him back. Jesus' blood cries out to the Father, "Forgive," a request the Father gladly grants.
When I read God's Word the eyes of my heart behold the gospel, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and this vision transforms me into someone more like Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
Bootstraps and Bread
It's tempting to search for stronger bootstraps to pull myself up with when dinnertime rolls around.
"This time," I muster my resolve, "I will just try harder have a better attitude. I am so blessed---shame on me for being so ungrateful and selfish."
Moralism's bootstraps don't ever break, but they always strangle the person who tries to pull themselves up by them.
Praise Jesus who fulfilled God's law and bore God's righteous judgment for our sin! The Father gave us Jesus, who is the true bread from heaven, and he gives life to the world (John 6:32-35). When Jesus said these words in his earthly ministry, the people responded, "Sir, give us this bread always." The Holy Spirit seals the hearts of believers and assures us that we have Jesus, the Bread of Life, always.
I might need an apron to protect my clothes during mealtime, but more than anything else I need the sword of the Spirit to slay my sinful attitudes. By God's grace he can turn a kitchen coliseum into a buffet where everyone gets to taste and see that the Lord is good.