>Image via WikipediaYou know how it is with casseroles, particularly with kids? You spend a great deal of time throwing together the Shepherd’s Pie or the Tuna Casserole or, in our family, the Chicken Lindsey. You follow the directions to a “T” and you put it in the oven for the prescribed time and it’s served piping hot to the family. And what do the kids do, they pick and choose the items they want to eat, leaving a pile of the things they don’t enjoy. Don’t the realize that the peas are to be eaten with the chicken to get the right casserole flavor? How bad could they taste when they are mixed in with all the other flavors and cream of mushroom soup that give the casserole its flavor? And while we’re at it, can’t we ask how they find the patience to pull out every small piece of mushroom from the dish, declaring each piece of chicken “clear” before putting it in their mouths?
OK, so maybe it’s not always that bad, but I’m usually quite amazed at the ability of my own kids to pick and choose the items they want to eat out of what we get them for dinner. Don’t they realize it’s all meant to be savored together?
It’s the same, I think, with the new dog food we have for our dog, Hurley. (Yes, for any Duke Basketball fans out there, he was named after Bobby Hurley, the great point guard for Duke in the early 90s back when I was at the school. Hurley, the Welsh Terrier dog, high energy and scrappy, was named after Hurley, the man, a high energy and scrappy point guard.) Well, Hurley’s food — one of the COSTCO specials — got a little more special as of note and, along with the small, crunchy nuggets of lamb and rice goodness has added some softer, almost meat-looking bits. And, while I don’t know the makeup of these newer bits, my dog knew right away that this was his favorite part of the dog food. From the first bowl we gave him, he jumps right and devours the food — but only the softer pieces. I don’t know how careful he is with the whole process, but it doesn’t take him long to walk away, leaving a mess of crunchy, hard pieces on the floor all around his bowl. It’s not unlike the piles of peace or carrots of mushrooms that one of my kids might leave.
But, that’s not all, Hurley has the nerve to go back to his bowl, with no soft pieces of goodness left, and look at me, trying to get me to pour more out for him…just so he could eat the soft pieces again and leave the rest. We have a new rule when it comes to feeding the dog: he doesn’t get any more food unless he eats ALL of the food…including the pieces he clearly thinks aren’t quite as yummy as the meaty chunks he so much enjoys.
I think there actually is a life lesson to be learned here: we really don’t get to pick and choose much in this life.
For Christians, we don’t have the liberty of choosing who it is that will be beneficiaries of our love. We gotta’ love everyone, even those who would be deemed “unloveable.”
In our jobs as pastors, we don’t get to pick and choose whether we’ll do the administrative portions of our job or the educational or the worship. They all have to be done.
We can’t just focus all of our energies on the good parts of life, the mountaintops. Life is full of valleys.
Is this all a stretch? Perhaps.
But I have to think of something positive as I sweep more crunchy dog food off of the floor and put it back in the bowl. After all, if I could pick and choose, I’d choose to do something other than this.