Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Stuff and Such

Business lunches aren't always the most enjoyable, but any meeting is made better when catered by Fat Matt's Rib Shack. That meeting was yesterday, but I'm still thinking about the ribs. Oh yeah.

Things have been a bit crazy around these parts, with a funeral last weekend and my sister's wedding this coming weekend. Lots of conflicting emotions, plus a fair amount of driving to and from the Heart of Dixie.

Funerals usually aren't a lot of fun, but the service for Allison's Uncle Joe has really resonated with me over the last few days. I had only known Joe for a few years, and definitely not in any deep and meaningful way. Nonetheless, I was highly encouraged by his life, as recounted by his pastor during the funeral service. Joe served his church and others in countless ways, and the pastor commended him as an example of faithfulness. I think the reason why this message has lingered in my mind is that Joe was commended for his faithfulness in the "small things," such as cleaning the church sanctuary week in and week out, serving as a church greeter or accompanying the pastor on innumerable visitations. Joe showed great dedication towards many jobs that are often seen as insignificant or even undesirable.

In many ways, this kind of dependability is counter-cultural, because our society tends to value whatever is big, efficient and implemented on a large scale, all the while snubbing things having little perceivable impact. This pragmatic perspective tends to reduce actions and pursuits into mere means that have little if any integrity beyond the ends towards which they are aimed. It's especially frustrating whenever churches and individual Christians (myself included) adopt these attitudes. Make no mistake: God often calls both churches and individuals to "great things," as defined in terms of size, visibility and impact. But God also works in the humble faithfulness of His people, even in the "mundane" details. It's a shame whenever such small-scale displays of obedience are disparaged. And, although I have no way to validate this belief, I have a hunch that God uses the amalgamation of small acts of obedience to accomplish far more sustained good than the less frequent dramatic "big" actions (although these certainly glorify God, as well!). Hearing about Uncle Joe's consistent faithfulness was a great exhortation to keep my eyes on the specific tasks already before me and not to be distracted by the greener pastures elsewhere.

Oh, and to tie this all together: BBQ ribs, like most Southern soul food, have their origins with plantation slaves (and other poor folk), who received the leftovers after their masters took the choice cuts of all the meat. Nevertheless, the slaves were able to take these unwanted and usually undesirable parts of meat and put them to good use in creating a style of cooking tasty food that has endured throughout the years and has been enjoyed by countless many. There's probably a parable in there somewhere.

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