What’s Your “One Day”?November 29, 2017
The Finest of Wines: Tasting the Goodness of GodJanuary 25, 2018
In the early ’80s, I worked for the Republican National Committee as a liaison with the Southern states, which included Florida. (Although, we all know Florida is not actually in the South.) The Speaker of the House lived in the Tampa area, so much of my time was spent there.
The Speaker repeatedly told me about this incredible steakhouse named Bern’s.[i] He went on and on about the steaks, the desserts, the coffee, and, of course, the wine. He said they served aged beef, grew their own vegetables, had the coffee beans flown in weekly straight from Brazil, and the wine cellar held 600,000 bottles of fine wines.
I listened attentively and enthusiastically. But up to that point, my only knowledge of steaks came from Western Sizzlin. Plus, my per diem might not even cover the tip. So even though I heard all about Bern’s and began to feel like a Bern’s aficionado, I never actually ate there.
One day, I heard about a group of people who called themselves “Bernstians.” They gathered at Bern’s every Sunday morning before the restaurant opened. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to experience Bern’s, so I dressed up the next Sunday, and off I went.
The group met in the main dining room. I quickly realized some sat at the same tables each week, so at first, I sat in the back.
They sang a couple of nice songs. Then the leader would stand up and talk about Bern, his life, and his passion… and about the incredible experience of eating at Bern’s. Often, someone would read aloud parts of the menu, and toward the end of each meeting (they called it a “service”), the group would all stand up and recite in unison the mission statement that hung on the wall at the entrance.
There was fine fellowship among the group, and on most Sundays, we would take up an offering for the kitchen workers. I even learned there was a smaller group that met earlier and memorized certain parts of the menu. So I joined that early group and quickly became one of the best at reciting the mouth-watering promises of Bern’s.
We even went out into the community to help the poor and the needy, proudly wearing our Bern’s Steakhouse t-shirts.
One day I was telling my coworker about Bern’s, and to entice him to try it, I recited some of the juicier menu descriptions of the steaks and desserts. I could see my friend was interested, so I invited him to our next meeting.
He came and seemed to enjoy himself, but afterward he remained in his seat with a puzzled and confused look on his face. As I stood, chatting with some of my fellow Bernstians, my friend asked, “I thought we were going to actually taste the food… Is this all you do? Talk about it? Isn’t there more than this?”
Bewildered, we all turned to look at him. Taste the food? We had never even thought of that.
We knew all about the food. We could practically recite the entire menu. I felt like I was an expert on how the steaks were prepared, the aged beef, the lavish desserts, and the extraordinary wine list. I could tell anyone all about the food. But, actually taste it?
Why would we? Knowing all about it was enough… right?
Did we not fellowship together, give a little money, hear a good message, and even help the community?
It never occurred to me there might be more. But my friend’s questions kept ringing in my ear: “I thought we were going to actually taste the food… Is this all you do? Talk about it? Isn’t there more than this?”
On the way home, he asked me with much hesitation, “So, Sam, have you actually met Bern? You seem to know all about him. But do you know him?”
And then, the coup de grâce: “And, does he know you?”
Suddenly, somewhere in my memory, I recalled a similar scenario:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:21-23, bold added)