The Meal Deal Ordeal

This is the 2nd of a series of 15 devotionals written almost 30 years ago when my oldest three sons were very little …

Many of you have asked about our recent vacation. We went to Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, a marine science museum in Virginia Beach, the Norfolk Navy Base, and the Air and Space Museum in Washington – all in one week with three little kids. But if you were to ask our boys what they liked the most, they would mention things like the replica guns they bought at Yorktown, the tape recorders in the car, the motel room and especially the restaurants where they ate.

Their favorite was a restaurant that offered a 99-cent “Kid’s Meal Deal,” which allowed the boys all they wanted from the soup and salad bar. On top of that, two of them could eat free because they were under five and with a paying adult. So, the three boys could eat all they wanted for a combined total of 99 cents.

Some of you have seen my guys eat or have heard me talk about it. We can’t relate to parents who have trouble getting their children to eat or who have problems keeping their children at the table for longer than five minutes. Our kids will keep eating as long as you keep bringing them food. We have to sometimes say, “That’s it, lunch is done, you’re finished, get down and wash up!”

There is now a restaurant in Williamsburg that will no longer be offering the “Kid’s Meal Deal.” My trio cleaned them out! Benjamin exhausted their supply of “the green stuff with the marshmallows” and Nathan ate all of their kiwi fruit. Together, the three of them emptied several bowls of cracker packages.

Of course, with every return to the salad bar, it was necessary to get a new, clean plate. Well, the plates started piling up in the middle of table and the busboy had to come periodically to take them away and keep the bar supplied. He just looked at the kids with a dumbfounded expression.

Other customers at nearby tables were watching and grinning at this unscheduled floor show. The waitresses were standing together whispering back and forth. The kids were pouring it down and heading back for more, weaving between people like O.J. through a defensive backfield. Benjamin hopped on one lady’s foot while he excitedly returned to the bar saying, “I just love, love, love this green stuff!”

Diana and I had long since finished our meal and she was organizing their efforts and trying to prevent them from talking too loudly in unbridled excitement. I was sitting there watching and taking notes for this article. After two hours we finally said, “This is your last trip … And Benjamin, no more green stuff!”  Nathan protested, “But where are the salad bars, I haven’t found them yet!”  I guess he expected something like a granola bar (maybe he could invent one… imagine it – low calorie salad bars; you could eat them for snacks!).

For us, the “Kid’s Meal Deal” was a kid’s meal ordeal more than a deal. We didn’t go on vacation for the purpose of eating in a restaurant. But I’m afraid we are a legend now at that place.

Why do we exist as a church? What is our purpose? I am afraid that many times we are like three hungry little boys in a restaurant, grabbing all of the goodies for ourselves and forgetting the larger context and purpose for being in the community. We are to be a light to the world; but too often we are consumed with pigging out on the feasts of teaching and fellowship within our own context of the church family. We are to surely minister to those within the body who are hurting, but too often the business of chowing down on varied blessings prevents our awareness of another’s hunger.

As a church we have attempted to be one that offers a lot of the variety at the ecclesiastical soup and salad bar. You can get a big bowl of fellowship and a plate full of discipleship, Bible study and edification, all topped with a dressing of prayer. But in our exuberance let us not forget the hungry who stand outside and all about us.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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