The Ride Home:
My buddies and I had a great time at the National Youth Worker's Convention in Pittsburgh. We had to leave early because we each had obligations that required us to be back home before the thing was officially over.
Just to recap... the experience was incredible! God had just filled our hearts, minds, and souls with some incredible things. But our bodies were incredibly fatigued and so we decided to take a break over every state line as we drove from Pittsburgh towards Indiana, and then up to Michigan.
One of the first rest stops was just over the Ohio border. After the traditional bathroom break we headed over to the vending area to see what kind of processed food we could find. Because sometimes you just need processed food.
My friend Brian put a dollar into a machine to get a cinnamon roll only to have it stop just short of falling down. It just sort of hung there... as if it decided at the last minute that life in the vending machine was more pleasurable than whatever awaited it outside the mysterious pit it was doomed to fall into.
Has this ever happened to you? Of course it has... every one of us knows the devil has specifically decided to mess with our worlds through vending machines. Whether it's the dollar bill that won't be accepted or the aforementioned dangling food dillemma, we each know the pain of standing in front of such a contraption and wishing you could invent new curse words for the frustration you're experiencing.
And so what does one do in such a situation? You shake the machine... you shake it good... you shake it like a Polaroid picture.Unfortunately, though, these machines were bolted to the walls. In fact, they put up a little sign to warn you not to even try to mess with it. So you couldn't shake them… and Brian was left very unhappy about the whole thing.
Scott, my other friend, had a clever idea… what if we were to put another dollar in and buy the same item? Might that not only free up the original cinnamon roll but would it not also give us another round of the stubborn treat? (He's smart... he works for Pfizer)
And so this is what we did, and it actually worked! Not only did Brian get his cinnamon roll but he also had a back-up.
We got back into the vehicle and started driving. Brian offered the complimentary taste of the food to which I said no (because who am I to come between a guy and his cinnamon roll?) Being the young guy he is, though, he finished it rather fast and tossed the wrapping paper in the back seat where I was sitting.
And so I said, “Hey, that hit me!”
Then I looked at the plastic and something else hit me...
The phrase “Big Texas Cinnamon Roll” sort of stood out to me. "Hmm… that’s kind of clever," I thought, "because Texas always talks about big things and this is a big cinnamon roll."
And I looked at the rest of the package…
A big blue ribbon graphic on the left side of the package had yellow letters inside it that read, “Pastry of the year.”
Now, keep in mind the context… 3 long days of intense time with God. Our bodies were tired, our minds were full of truth, our hearts impassioned, and our souls full of intimacy with God.
I started to laugh uncontrollably.
Scott and Brian turned around and asked, “What?”
I couldn’t get it out of me… “Past… pastr…. PASTRY OF THE YEAR! HAHAHAHAHA!”
Brian said something like, “Yeah, I saw that, too.”
“And you didn’t find this FUNNY?!?!?! HAHAHA!” And so I read some more on the package…
“2005 Automatic Merchandiser Reader’s Choice”
And I started to imagine what this must be about. Like, was there an awards show for this somewhere on cable that I wasn’t in the mix on? And if there was, did the audience vote for their favorite pastry by pressing “H-3” and watching a little trophy spin out of the ceiling?
As I was stuck in this day dream, the most amazing thing happened. COULD THIS BE? I had a vision of a “Big Texas Cinnamon Roll” sailing through the air towards me… glowing as it came closer.
It turns out it wasn’t a dream - Brian tossed me his back-up Big Texas Cinnamon Roll and as it sailed towards me the sun was behind it.
And so I bit into it… knowing the bliss that awaited me from the 2005 Automatic Merchandiser Reader’s Choice Pastry of the Year. I quickly unwrapped the plastic and bit into this celebrated cinnamon roll. And you know what?
It tasted like a cinnamon roll from a vending machine.
I went home and got on the internet to find out more about this mystery. Here’s the headline on the site that hosts the Automatic Merchandiser Reader’s Choice contest:
- Pastry Competition Gets Fierce.
First-time winner Big Texas Cinnamon Roll from Cloverhill Bakery, last year's runner-up in the pastry category, also unseated a long-time winner, Mrs. Freshley's Jumbo Honey Bun, this year's runner-up. Mrs. Freshley's Jumbo Honey Bun had a five-year winning streak beginning in 2000 in the pastry category. The product also enjoyed a two-year winning streak in 1997 and 1998.
Yes, folks, the Mrs. Freshley's Jumbo Honey Bun dynasty is over. Although if you go to their web site you will see they are in denial and still claim that their Jumbo Honey Buns are the “Pastry Product Of The Year”
Isn’t it amazing the things that we spend time giving glory and honor to? Consider the progression of American magazines over the last 50 years:
Anyone else notice a pattern?
Whether you realize it or not… you are a worshipper. The question is *what* you worship. Everyone worships something in that we were intended to worship God but often substitute Him for something else.
Think about the thing that has the highest value in your life. It could be your job, family, body, hobby, education, computer, relationships, or house. And you’d never think to say you worship it but deep down you know it’s the thing that occupies your thoughts, gets you excited, and where you spend the greatest energy of your time. It may not be easy to admit, so track how you spend your time and you will discover one of two things:
- You can follow the trail of your pocketbook, calendar, cell phone, Tivo, iPod, grocery list, mail, and internet history to figure out what’s at the end.
- Or you can go a bit further down the rabbit hole… past where it seems to end and discover what is truly behind our worship. Keep asking "What's deeper than that... and behind that?" And so on.
My guess is that if stay on the trail faithfully you will come to realize that God is the source, the means, and the end. Whether we realize it's Him, though, or get distracted by the biggest blue ribbon in our lives is up to us.