WE WILL MEET YOU THERE: A SAFE, UNCONVENTIONAL WAY TO EAT BETTER AND STAY FIT… WITHOUT EVEN TRYING!
I. Eat a hearty, well-balanced lunch. This will effectively persuade your family, friends, and blog readers that the next several steps are not a routine–though, if you think about it, perhaps they should be.
II. Prepare for dinner; before sitting down at the table, allow a close loved-one to make a slight–very slight–reference to something in the Bible. Let your imagination run wild.
III. Pray, just before sitting down to that fabulous plate of food set before you. Thank the Lord for His holiness, His glory, His manifest presence in your life, His love and mercy, His power and healing, for drawing those who need His grace into those everlasting arms, and for that plate of nourishment you’re about to receive. Except, by now, that plate of nourishment is probably getting cold… Oh, well–you’re grateful for it anyway.
IV. Oops! Everyone else in the family is watching television, something you’re not interested in. Go and get your iPod. Find the playlist entitled “Prayer Closet”. Take it to the table with you; this is a no-holds-barred meal when Peggy Post etiquette may be temporarily abandoned.
V. First, examine that teriyaki steak you’ve been looking forward to all day. Begin to eat, while listening to a worship song. For purposes of this experiment, I used “I Want to Be Like Jesus” which is, arguably, a children’s song. But it was sung by British children–and don’t societal norms about age levels and Christian music fail to apply if the music happens to be foreign? Besides, isn’t “Zacchaeus” a worship song if sung with reverence in your heart and a Bible in your hand? So, anyway, eat your steak while listening to this or any other beautiful worship song. Allow the words to sweep you off into thoughts of God’s nearness. “Lord, I want serving hands … Eyes to see You, ears to hear from You, / Feet that follow after You…” Oh! Have you been listening to that song for five minutes, slowly consuming only half your steak in the meantime? And now you aren’t really hungry for the other half anymore. Moving on…
VI. Now your peas. You really do have to eat all of these, if you want to derive any nutritional value at all from this meal. Then, too, you’ve changed worship songs… But “Guiding Light” is just as magnificent. Light… light of the world… Gospel of John… Revelation… The Lamb of God gives light to the city of the New Jerusalem, according to Rev. 19-22… Candlesticks, lampstands, tabernacle… You’re distracted again! Oh, well; those last few bites of peas won’t really add that many more micronutrients to your life, will they? Leave them on the plate.
VII. Time for your baked potato. The cheese you put on top will compensate for the steak you aren’t eating, and those chives will make up for what was lacking in your peas. Find a seven-minute worship song and slowly, slowly enjoy. Thank the Lord for every bite. Remember that day in 2012 when you ordered just such a baked potato from a nearby deli–the day you also spent several hours in worship, took Communion, and generally basked in the presence of the Lord. Thank You, Lord, for that forkful of potato, for this taste of sour cream, for that shred of cheese… “Better Is One Day in your courts…” Thank You, Lord, for this chive, and for that sip of water, and for the opportunity to worship You during this precious, precious meal… “How Great Is Our God…”
VIII. Did you forget your bread? It’s time to nibble it now. Pick up one of your two breadsticks and take a bite. Then, imagine breaking off a piece–preferably one with as little garlic as possible. Imagine grape juice. Force another bite of bread. Think about another piece, just large enough to be broken if need be, and again imagine grape juice. Now you’re thinking on Communion in general. Ah, those Scriptures in Matthew 26, and that passage in I Corinthians 11:26! And then there are the worship songs–“Remember Me”, a song about Communion by Marty Nystrom; “We Remember”, a Communion-service song by Calvary Chapel Music; and “We Will Meet You There” and “Come Expecting Jesus”, both celebratory Communion worship ballads by John Chisum. How can you focus on finishing both breadsticks now when your heart is set on Communion, on the best of all sacrificial gifts, on holiness and beauty… You really didn’t need the other one-and-a-half breadsticks on your plate, did you?
IX. Quite obviously, dinner is over. It’s time to worship, to write, to read Ezekiel through and then start on Revelation, to proclaim the next hour a time of prayer. Go downstairs and prepare to find some quiet place to do all of the above. But what’s this? Suddenly, your attention is captured by the elliptical machine in the den. Did you know that the motion of that machine simulates dancing before the Lord–at least to some extent? Do you remember what that kind of dancing feels like–that hands-raised, joyful expression of praise you used to engage in every Sunday before several hospitalizations weakened your resolve and reduced your stamina? Perhaps there’s a way… So, take your iPod and set it in the drink holder of the machine that might just help you to remember how to worship boldly. Find a song–any song that touches you. It doesn’t have to be fast. I chose Robin Mark’s upbeat but not rockish “I Will Walk”, but I might have been just as likely to choose “Jesus Name Above All Names” if I felt moved to do so. Now, gently climb on, place your hands as far up on the handlebars as they can go, and proceed to ellipticize. Hint: If you use the moving handlebars as opposed to the stationary ones, the feeling of dancing in the Lord is increased because you’re engaging your heart, mind, soul, and all of your strength. Now, don’t feel obligated by any set of conventions. Continue on the elliptical as long as you want–be it two minutes or thirty–as this is an exercise in grace, not in works. If you stay in rhythm with the song, you’ll probably end up imagining this worship session taking place at Calvary Chapel, minus the hundred-or-so other worshipers. If you’re feeling too joyful to maintain any sort of rhythm, so be it!
X. Now you’re tired. You stopped when you wanted to, and that’s good. The whole point of this evening was not to stay slim and trim, or to exercise your way toward health. It was to spend time in the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you accomplished this? Of course you have! But you can do more if you want. Your sanctuary, the place you go when you want to be in God’s presence, beckons. So do I Thessalonians and I Corinthians, II Peter and the Gospel of Luke. And so do Don Moen, Casey Corrum, Dennis Jernigan, and Marty Nystrom. So do prayer, and a moment of private Communion, and the precious fragrance of frankincense-and-myrrh anointing oil. Project “We-Will-Meet-You-There” has become a private one, and I shall leave you to it, to do with as you wish.