Thursday, April 8, 2010

The best sandwich I ever had

About 10 years ago, my Aunt got married in Philly and I (along with much support from my parents) drove out with my then 21-month-old twins to attend her grand affair. As part of our adventure, we took a day trip into New York City. It was the first and only time in my life I had (or still have, for that matter) been to the Big Apple. It was mind-boggling for this Midwestern gal, despite having grown up in Denver, that so many tall buildings, so many cars, and so many people are crammed into such a small area. I was both awed and annoyed by the experience, and proud to have had it.

On that day, we ate lunch at a little cafe with black and white floors and funky bar stools. I am certain it had NYC unique-ness and character oozing from the very bricks that supported its walls. I'm just sure of it. I ordered a fantastic--absolutely fantastic--sandwich that has lived in infamy in my mind ever since. It was wonderful. It was divine. It was luscious. Dare I claim this sandwich was Heavenly? Mmmmm. It was a portabella mushroom sandwich, and I kid you not, this mushroom was the size of my face. De-lish.

That sandwich was so good, and the experience so unique to my life up to that point, that the re-telling of the sandwich story has been almost as good as eating it, and for a great many years now. It is a great conversation opener, for example, in the produce department upon passing the mushroom case..."Aaah, I remember a sandwich I ate once in New York City that makes that withered mushroom here in Nebraska look like a weed." Or at a restaurant with funky bar stools..."Well, these stools are very nice, but compared to the ones dripping with mushroom juice in New York City, they are stiff and unforgiving." Things like that.

I can now claim, however, to have truly eaten the truly best sandwich of my life, in my not-too-distant past and not-too-distant travels, right here in good ol' Northeast Nebraska.

I won't pretend that Dan and I, and our children, don't live very tightly budgeted. We do. While our choice for me to stay at home all these years is a good one, and his choice to remain committed to the family farm is the right one, those choices have taught us one of many valuable lessons...budgetbudgetbudget. And budget some more. And perhaps sometimes go without. Like this day, for example, I was skipping lunch because I decided to buy toilet paper instead. But I was hungry nevertheless. And while those lessons are mighty in importance and eternal in significance, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes a person just wants to throw the budget out the window and splurge. It was a day like that, a couple of months ago, when I was aching for the permission to splurge on a fast food lunch, but through prayer and persistence, was not. I was resisting. {gritted teeth} I admit I may have even been doing a little pouting. {sigh} Maybe. Just a little.

Anyway, it was on this day of power and pouting that I went out to shop, and on the way, the radio was on. My local Christian radio station, as is typical, was holding their daily "Bible Brainbuster" trivia contest. Ooh! Cool! I heard the promo, I got my phone. I dialed up the number, I waited. They asked the question, I knew the answer, and I hit send. AND I WON. (Sad to say, as I sit here, I cannot for the life of me remember the question, but I am sure you would have been impressed.) I, Shelly, whipped out some Bible trivia and won. And can you guess what I won?? AN ARBY'S COMBO VALUE MEAL! Praise God! I won lunch!!

Proud as a peacock, I whipped my car right to the station and picked up my bronze certificate, and headed straight to Arby's to silence my grumbling belly. Not typically an Arby's fan, this day it did not matter and I ordered with flair. A turkey bacon club, thankyouverymuch. Not to be too deterred from my time agenda, I decided to just eat in the car. As I ate, I, of course, continued to listen to the very radio station that had just bestowed such good fortune on me. And as I listened, I found myself drawn into a segment on starving children in the world. I heard, much to my horror, how many children die each day due to malnutrition and malnutrition-related diseases. The statistics are staggering. I heard a plea to do something to save dying babies with bloated bellies and wasted limbs.

And while I sat there in my car, in the parking lot of a mall, in the richest nation in the world, with my plump and healthy two-year-old smiling over her curly fries in the back seat, gorging myself on an over sized sandwich given to me for free, just because I can read my Bible without persecution and can afford a cell phone, I began to weep. I wept over every last bite. And all I could think was, Who do I think I am?! What makes me so deserving? Why am I so special?? I did nothing other than to be born here, and they did nothing other than to be born a world away in an impoverished nation. I don't have to watch my children suffer and die. I don't have to sweep a dirt floor in a drafty hut. I can talk on my phone and drive my car and buy all the toilet paper I need.

And yet, even here, in America, while I bask in arrogance, God reminded me that He is still meeting all my needs. He is concerned even for my lunch on a day when the budget wins. He is so big, so real, so true, and so right, that despite all my unworth, despite all my pouting, He is willing to meet my needs, right down to a lowly sandwich. He rewards the unfaithful, He cherishes the lowly, and He uplifts the downcast.

I don't know why or how I managed to be so very blessed, to have been born at the latitude and longitude of this great earth that He chose for me, and why I was not born in a hut in a wasteland, but what I do know is that God is in control. He has my life in the palm of His hand and will oversee every detail if only I will let Him. He loves me and cherishes me and claims me.

That day, I was once again reminded that God is not failing to notice. I now have a new "best sandwich" story. The best sandwich I ever had. To Him be all the glory.

1 comment:

mandy said...

I think I remember that mushroom sandwich. We all are so blessed everyday that we have full bellies and roofs above our heads. we really need to think like you did today. Thanks for reminding us all...