Well, if it’s anyone’s fault, it’s the calendar.
Our Storehouse serves on Thursdays. And I probably should have looked over the entire year to see what days of importance landed on a Thursday in 2019, but I didn’t. I’ve been playing this week by week.
But a few weeks ago, I suddenly realized the 4th of July landed on a Thursday. And when I asked our volunteers about serving, most of them said they would be away with family and friends.
At the same time, behind the scenes, my forced vacation was being planned by my boss and my other boss. One of those being Cindy, my wife.
So, I’m sitting in a hotel in St. Louis while I write our weekly article. It’s been a great time away, so far. We drove through lunch and when we got here, we were hungry!
There’s a popular barbecue restaurant right next to our hotel. We walked over in the zillion degree heat but made it inside before we passed out. It’s July 4th, so there’s a lot of people in line waiting for their chance to order one of America’s most popular Independence Day meals.
I get the pulled pork sandwich; Cindy opts for the brisket. We find an empty table and get settled. There’s a television, probably 42 inches, hanging on the wall in view of our table. In a minute, I realize what ESPN2 is about to broadcast.
And the horror sets in.
Nathan’s, the national hotdog company, is hosting its annual Independence Day eating contest in New York. There’s a field of 12 or so entrants, called “competitive eaters,” but the favorite is Joey Chestnut. He’s won this thing eleven times before. And if he wins today, he’ll take home ten thousand dollars. To do that, he’ll have to down more hotdogs and buns than the rest in ten minutes.
When the competition begins, the competitors are arrayed on a stage. There are people all around them. Some are to bring more hotdogs, and each competitor is faced by a referee who will ensure they actually eat the hotdog as opposed to shoving is under the table on down their shirts.
But possibly the most alarming thing is the group of people in front who easily number, and I’m not making this up, a thousand. And they are cheering wildly for the competitors. Some of them have a favorite. One of them holds a sign which reads “Chestnut is the GOAT,” which means he’s the greatest of all time.
Immediately after the competition begins, the camera is trained on Chestnut, who stands in the middle of the competitors. And not long into the ten-minute period, his cheeks are gorged with food, the veins in his head are standing out, and I can see specks of food on his face.
From the start, his status of favorite is obviously understood. He’s way out in front of the others. After only four minutes, he’s swallowed 37 hotdogs and buns; after five, the total has risen to 44.
I can’t watch. And I can’t look away.
And the longer I watch, the more nauseated I feel. Finally, blessedly, it ends. Chestnut has won by eating 71 hotdogs and buns.
I push my plate away from me and climb on the table so I can scream, “Jesus, what are you doing?”
I suppose it really should have been, “Jesus, what are you allowing?”
And I made up the whole standing on the table and screaming thing. But I so wanted to. I needed to. In ten minutes, the winner has consumed over 19,000 calories. It’s possible the entire field has eaten over 162 thousand.
And all I could think about was our Storehouse and the calories we have there. Those precious calories! So many donated and the rest purchased with donated dollars. We treat them with the utmost respect. We guard and care for them keeping them fresh as long as we absolutely can.
And our clients! Oh, how they pore over them. A few know exactly what they want, but many handle several items before making their choices. They think over their preferences, and what they know their children will eat. From time to time, we have highly sought out items and our clients gush. “Oh my, you’ve got Pop tarts!”
Today is July 4th. People all over our country ate because they were hungry and would have regardless of the day. But today, a lot of us overate. And one guy in New York outdid us all.
And now I realize I’m standing at the edge of the whole conversation about wealth and riches and that isn’t where this is supposed to go and frankly, it doesn’t matter. What we’ve got has been given to us by Jesus.
The question is, what are we supposed to do with what we’ve been given.
And I just think if we’ve been given 71 hotdogs, we’re not supposed to eat them all. Well, maybe over a few months, but not in 10 minutes.
I think we’re supposed to give, and give, and give. And maybe, that’s why we’ve got what we’ve been given.
So we have something to give away.
Jesus promised we’d always have the poor with us.
So we will always have someone to give something to.
And now I must confess I don’t know how to end this blog post. It’s great to be away, but my heart hurts that we’re not serving today. People are hungry in Conway today.
I am the Storehouse Director and get the privilege of writing about the people that Jesus loves.
Contact Mike Rush at firstname.lastname@example.org for all things "Volunteer".
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