My father and mother grew up during the Great Depression. I grew up hearing stories about it. I loved to hear my father tell stories about his early years. He was an amazing man who decided one day that his family would not endure the hardships he endured. He worked hard at everything he did and was successful. He was never rich in worldly goods, but he certainly raised himself above his early childhood poverty.
One of my favorite stories he told was that during the Depression, his mom made a lot of soup. He said “We had a big piece of meat to cook the soup with but we were not allowed to eat the meat. It was for flavor only. One day the neighbors who were worse off than we asked if they could borrow the meat to cook some turnip greens. Of course we were willing to help the neighbors. When they brought the meat back to us, the turnip greens had ruined the meat and now the soup tasted like turnip greens. The neighbors ruined our only bit of flavor. So to get rid of the turnip green taste mom had to water down the soup.” I always thought it was a joke, but my mom told me he was serious.
We are fortunate to have so many choices at our disposal every day, that the idea of that is foreign to us. Actually the idea of having to cook every day and use a piece of meet over and over to get flavor is like a story out of some kind of fiction novel. We can have anything we want, with any kind of topping or flavoring. We can have hot , cold, medium. We can put mustard or mayo or whatever we want on anything. We don’t need used meat.
The problem with this is…we have too many choices for it to be healthy for us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We have a plethora of choices on everything from banks. to sports. to travel. to eating. to lifestyles. We are overwhelmed with choices every day. We are constantly being “sold” something 24/7. You can buy jewelry all night long. Or that next big exercise machine that is guaranteed to give you rock hard abs in 10 days. You can have a mattress delivered to your door and just unbox it and have a wonderful sleep filled night with no joint issues tomorrow. It’s magic….Everything is magic.
But, what have we traded for all the convenience? We see the same thing happening to us in our politics, our media, our churches, our comedy, our entertainment, our education. We can go to concerts, vacations, etc, if we are willing to give up something. The “meat” of our lives is being ruined by the neighbor’s turnip greens.
Now we have “ordained ministers” who are calling for the bible to be re-written to agree with abortion and other social issues of the day. We have any number of theological ideas to satisfy the ever growing hunger of people’s souls. We have lives with ruined meat.
My dad said my grandmother would use beans and potatoes and all sorts of veggies in that soup. But when the meat got ruined, it just did not satisfy any longer. He said that when other people came, my grandmother put more water in the soup so there would be enough to go around. We sadly are living in a tasteless world. Our moral compass has been hijacked by the powers that seek to destroy. They are ruining the meat with a warfare against all that is holy and pure like we have never seen before.
Relevance? Yes we need that. I do not intend to imply that we should not be aware of our surroundings and the social situations we live among. But what price are we willing to pay to be relevant? Many years ago, I was an itinerant evangelist. I had a degree of success at that. I loved what I did. I still love it and miss it. But to be relevant, I was told I had to be seeker sensitive and a long list of other things.
So, I “watered down the soup”. I admit to having omitted far too much meat from the presentation. My desire to be relevant; to succeed; to build; to re-invent myself took the meat to the neighbors. They ruined it. I always had a new visitors evaluation sheet in my bulletin. I wanted to know what we were doing right and how we could fix any problems. One Sunday someone wrote..”You are not Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, or any of those guys. Be Ron Hamm. Be energized by the spirit like you can be. Be what I felt you were supposed to be this morning. The content was good, the jokes were funny, the presentation was flawless, but the meat was missing”. I still have that sheet in my desk. It propelled me back to my roots.
We need to find the “meat” again. We need to have substance in our lives and families again. We need to establish our families in the faith of our Almighty God. Pentecostals need to be Pentecostal again. Main line denominations need to preach the power of salvation again. We once left church feeling like we had eaten a great meal. We were satiated with the God food that had meat….lots of meat. Preach the word like a dying man to dying men!
I am beginning to write my life story in a few days. I have done much research in my mentor’s journals and my own journal. I no longer want to tell a story. I want to share meat with the reader. I remember as a child sitting at the table after revival service and listening to Harrison Price as he talked to pastors and their families. It was full of meat. How we miss those days.
Don’t loan the meat to the neighbors…..Just grab a big ole piece and hang on. God has not forsaken His church nor this country. He has plenty of wonderful blessings yet for us….
Don’t water down the soup.