Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beer and Pizza Revisited:

[As some of you know, the past few weeks (four to be exact) I have been preoccupied by a beautiful little baby girl who has taken every waking (and sleeping) moment  I have.  Inevitably, my time for blogging has decreased, and my posts have been few and far between.  For this reason, and until I can find some extra spare time, I am dedicating the next few blog posts to revisiting my posts from the past...some old thoughts that are worth taking a second look.  May you be encouraged by the past as you look toward your future.]

1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 

Since listening to John Piper’s sermon last week, my perspective on things has begun to slowly transform.  He challenged Christians to live this life with one focused pursuit- doing the work of God; pointing others to Him through our love.

He reminded us that this life isn’t for “vacation“, that in fact, we will have eternal vacationing- or as he put it, “eternal TV watching” when we enjoy that which we were made for one day: reveling in the presence of our Lord. 

Ironically, the week after I heard this message- John and I were headed for some of our own “vacationing” in San Francisco.  Don’t get me wrong- I don’t think there is anything wrong with vacationing, in fact- I believe we need it.  I sure did.  We need time built into our lives to enjoy relationships, to enjoy our surroundings, and to simply rest.

But, I believe the underlying question John Piper was addressing in his message is this:  what do we live for?  What do we spend our lives in pursuit of?  Unfortunately, too many times the answer is not the glory of God, but rather a long list of meaningless things. 

So for me, this week, I asked God to change my perspective.  I had asked Him to give me a renewed desire for His glory, and a preoccupation with His work.  And here’s what happened:


The streets of San Francisco are always in a hustle.  It’s a beautiful city, filled with beautiful people.  On our last evening there, John and I decided to have a picnic at Union Square, the park in the center of the city.  We got our Blondie’s pizza, found a table to sit, and sat to enjoy one another’s company and take in the sights of the city.

As we were eating, I noticed a man sitting in a bench beside us.  I couldn’t help but observe that he looked somber.  He sat alone, and every few minutes, he would pick up his wrinkled brown bag, and take a sip of the drink inside.

I couldn’t get his sad look out of my mind.  No matter what I tried to do to distract myself, I found my eyes would keep wandering back to him, wondering what was causing this man to look so serious.  I felt the prodding of the Holy Spirit getting stronger and stronger, the nagging preoccupation that I had asked God for was being birthed inside of my spirit.  So much so, that I couldn’t make it go away even when I tried. 

I turned to him and said, “Sir, are you hungry?  Would you like a slice of Pizza?  We’re going to have plenty left over.”

“I’m not really hungry, but sure, I will take a slice.”
And so our conversation began.  With one simple slice of pizza, Howard entered into our worlds, and we entered into his.

“Are you from the area?” we asked.  “No, I am from Manhattan, visiting San Francisco because my mom is very sick.”

Through the course of the conversation, we learned many things about Howard.  We learned of his deep concern as he watched his mom suffer through a merciless bout with cancer.  We learned of his many regrets- regrets that he had never invested in her life until now.  We learned of his deep worries, worries that she would soon be gone from his life, though she was the most important thing he had.  We learned about his struggle with religion, knowing a God who only loves when we are good- when we obey the rules.  Howard had broken the “rules”, many of them, he said.  In fact, he even said that he was breaking one of the rules in that  very moment, as he sat there with us, washing the last bite of his pizza down with his beer. 

We learned a lot about Howard that day, and then we shared with Him about the love of the God that we knew.  A God who deeply hurts when we are hurting.  A God who cares greatly for our loved ones.  A God who has the power to heal bodies and repair broken relationships.  A God who forgives us even before we ask.  A God who’s lavish love alone brings us to repentance…not the other way around. 

We prayed with Howard that evening, before we said goodbye.  It was a wonderful moment, and afterward he looked up and said, “Wow, that was a powerful prayer”.  God knew exactly what Howard needed to hear that day, and He gave us the words to convey those things. 

I learned a powerful lesson this week.  First, I learned that I am not diligent enough in doing God’s work.  How many Howard’s have I interacted with- not giving a moment’s thought to their spiritual needs?  How many days have gone by where I have not asked God to give me a preoccupation with His work?  How many opportunities have been missed because I frankly didn’t care enough to take the time. 

Secondly, I learned the important truth that no matter what we are doing- we can be used by God.  We don’t have to be at our Saturday morning church ministry.  We don’t have to be at a homeless shelter feeding the poor.  It doesn’t have to be a special moment.  We don’t have to have special words.  And we certainly don’t have to be a special person.  In fact, He is glorified more because we are not.

The truth is, God can and WILL be glorified in every part of our lives- whether or not we take part in that is our decision.   So this week, friends, whether you eat, or whether you drink, whether you work or stay at home, whether you go for a run or to the grocery store, whether you attend a church service or visit a friend, whether you meet a Howard or an old friend- remember this: do it all for the glory of God.  Amen.

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