We went grocery shopping today. I'm one of those strange guys that enjoys the "childish" snack called: popcorn. I'm an avowed Orville Redenbacher fan. My wife surprised me today by buying me a different Orville. There is no microwave involved. This is the place the butter in the pot, add the kernels, and shake till it stops kind.
I have vague memories of mom doing this when I was in elementary school (during the dinosaur age, as my children would say, and before Jiffy Pop). For many years now, I've simply taken the handy bag out of the box, put it in the Microwave, and nuked it! This has served me well and I've grown very accustomed to the taste and the convenience. However, since my dear wife bought it, I decided to try the new old-fashioned stuff.
I had to have my wife explain it to me, as I'm not the best cook in the world and my mind was rebelling against receiving the instructions on the jar! Finally, I had the butter melting (yum, cholesterol city!) and added the kernels, placing the lid on top. I then began melting some more butter in a small pot, as my taste buds began to imagine what this glorious concoction would taste like. How would it differ from the microwave? Would I even like it anymore?
To my surprise, and mild irritation, the kernels did not begin popping almost immediately as I was accustomed to. Further, I even had to turn my butter pot off, for fear of scorching it while I waited on the pops to start.
Finally, I heard a pop. Then another. Wait a few seconds (a lifetime?) and then another pop sounded. Then twosies and trios at a time. Finally, the drum roll! Relieved, I turned my butter back on. Knowing that shortly I'd be eating "the real thing".
While it was cooking, my wife had to remind me to shake it around so as not to burn the popcorn on the bottom. A little disgruntled at the extra effort involved, I obeyed my wife's wisdom filled suggestion. At last, the popping slowed to a crawl and I began to smell a faint scorch. I turned it off, removed it from the burner (along with my melted butter).
I wasn't quite done yet, however. I still had to put the popcorn in a large bowl, add lots of salt, and pour on my butter! Then came the lid for the bowl and me doing my best immitation of a child's rattle toy! I had to vigorously shake the bowl, my mom's bowl by the way (she passed away 10 years ago.), to mix the ingredients just right.
Upon removing the lid, the smell hit me. What a wonderful aroma! Tasting it was even better. As I ate it, I couldn't help but think about the decided lack of flavor in the microwave kind (as compared to the real thing). It was then that it hit me.
Many of us start out well with God! Everything is fresh and new, hot and tasty. Over the years, however, our relationship begins to change. We get caught up in so many things in life. We begin to reduce our relationship with Jesus to a microwave-like religion. A quick prayer here. A verse read there. A service at church to "check the block" of attendance. Slowly, we become accustomed to the routine, easier, and less favorable Jesus of religion.
May I take this moment to challenge us all to reexamine our religion? Can we shake off the day to day religious grind, ignore the microwave, and turn the heat back up? Can we shake ourselves in prayer and study until the kernels of our relationship with him begin to pop again?
Sure, it'll require stepping out of our comfort zones. It also won't be easy to make our flesh put forth the effort required to do so. I can tell you this: If we do, we will find that the relationship tastes a whole lot better and is much more fulfilling than the religion. "Oh, taste and see...."