I'm thinking about Christianity a lot lately. I have come to believe Christianity was intended to be a lifestyle which has been watered down through the years to a faith-choice. I've traveled religious circles for my entire adult life and the closer I get to God, the more I fear we deceive ourselves. I realize I have erred in my thinking about what it is to be a Christian. I have made it more about the church I attended and allowed myself to feel good about what I have done there to serve God than I have made Christianity my lifestyle. And I think my life has been robbed because of that.
1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” Hmmm. I don’t think I can say that more clearly than John did. And then there is John 13:13-15 ““You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”” Those are Jesus’ words and they are incredibly challenging when I look at the structure of my life and compare it with the structure of Jesus’ life.
What if one of the greatest deceits the Enemy has been able to put over on mankind is the lifestyle of complacency among Christians?
What if that has robbed us of the fruit and joy and blessings God holds for us? And we have settled? By causing us to focus on the things we do and don’t do - we are able to feel satisfied with ourselves and overlook who we are supposed to be. I mean, let’s face it, I avoid murdering people. I avoid stealing. I avoid getting drunk. I avoid lying. I avoid cheating. Maybe you have heard the lingo - “don’t drink don’t smoke don't chew and don’t hang around with those who do”? Silly, but a motto for some. I am a Christian and I try hard not to do the "unChristian" things God condemns in the Bible and then I feel comfortable with myself because I know people who do do those things. and I know I'm not like them.
So what about the "Christian" things I do? Go to church. Read my Bible. Pray. By doing those things I can feel comfortable with myself because I know a lot of people who don’t do those things. So I'm not like them either, which must mean I am set apart just like the Bible says. Right?
I'm not so sure.
There are times when I simply sit alone and savor the moment. This early morning was one of those times. We have been so busy lately after work every day scrubbing the food truck to get it ready for today. When you convert a snack foods delivery vehicle to a food truck the major expenses and work involved for the builder are such things as: purchasing and installing appliances; wiring the truck so electricity will be available when running a generator; and plumbing the entire vehicle for LP gas so the oven, stove and fryer can be used when needed. The removal of stickers and other such memorabilia from the previous owners and final cleanup and polishing are not the priority for the mobile kitchen builder, nor should they be. Sarah and I can take care of those things ourselves. And we have been. We are constantly learning new things and have become very flexible in our thinking and preparing for this project.
Wading through the paperwork so we can receive the proper food licensing from the health department is also a big chore. We had to wait for a lot of it until we had the actual truck, because some questions can only be answered by seeing the final product and measuring and writing down serial numbers. That paperwork will be submitted soon and then we wait for the health department to inspect and pass us. We also discovered we need a hitch for the truck because the generator will be installed on a cargo carrier on the back of the truck, which requires a hitch. Sarah and I cannot be moving a 200 pound generator around every time we go out to serve.
So I have been making phone calls in search of the proper hitch. And I have learned that a step van requires a special hitch, apparently. Which now leads me to search for someone capable of fabricating the hitch we require. We also need to locate the proper hose and gauge for the propane tank. Then, additionally, we have searched far and wide to find an establishment with the capabilities of painting such a large vehicle. Not to mention the time spent seeking out someone to provide the final graphics. There is a process for everything we are doing and it takes time for people to get back with us with information we need. We find ourselves constantly fighting our impatience to get the truck on the road. Sometimes when the prize is so near you can almost touch it, it can nearly drive you crazy.
I have been on the phone for what seems like hours these past few weeks, trying to take care of some of the things we need for The Torch now the food truck is actually in Brighton. I was on the phone with an insurance agent the other day and he asked a lot of questions about The Torch. After I explained to him as briefly as I could what we were doing with the food truck, he asked me a question which amused me greatly. He said, “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but these people you are planning to cook for, is there a reason they can’t get food stamps?” Now I get that is a logical question and has some merit - but the first thing that popped into my head when the gentleman asked, was Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In case you don’t know the story, there is a point where some men come to Ebenezer Scrooge’s company to ask for a Christmas donation for the poor, to buy them some extra meat and drink and wood for their fires.
Scrooge is angry at their interruption of his work and immediately begins to ask them if something has happened to the workhouses and other governmental establishments for the poor. The gentlemen respond many poor would rather die than go to those places. To which Scrooge suggests the world would be better off if they did die.
As a person who accessed the food stamp system I would agree it is a humiliating and frustrating situation to be in. I have never been treated so disrespectfully and rudely as i have by many of the caseworkers who dealt with food stamps. If you make one mistake it’s back to square one. You are denied and ignored and have to spend hours on the phone to get questions answered or help sorting through it all. When you receive correspondence from them you have an incredibly short deadline in which to reply or you start the process over. It is stressful and degrading to go through. Apparently the situation was similar in Scrooge’s day. And I’m not saying people shouldn’t get help through food stamps if that is what they need. Keep pushing through and do it if you need it.
I’m also not saying The Torch is a replacement for food stamps or any other support system out there for people in need. We are not. Really? One weekly hot meal? We know better than that. Our goal - as we have stated repeatedly - is to bring a hot meal, serve it to people without judgment, and with a smile and to treat them with the dignity and compassion they deserve as human beings. We want to talk with people and get to know their stories and show them there are people in the world who care. We want our stories and lives to bring hope to others, because every single life has value. Every single individual is priceless.
These past few weeks have been both amazingly awesome and incredibly difficult. God has answered prayer after prayer, often surprising me with His timing, always blessing me with His response. As the time draws near for us to start serving God and our fellow human beings with the food truck, the solemnity of the situation is not lost on me. I realize this is a tremendous undertaking with great responsibility. I have dedicated myself to reaching out more and more to God, trying to come into an even deeper relationship with Him, so it is His will I am doing and not mine. My prayer time is longer, my Bible study more intense. I keep my radio in the car on the Christian music station all the time, but have found the DJs to be annoying. I was challenged at church to use the audio version of the Bible on my iphone so I can listen while I drive. I did that this week and it is really helping me to feed my soul.
There are several reasons I wanted to discipline myself even more and draw closer to God, especially right now. The biggest motivator is the fact in just a couple of days we will be bringing the food truck to town and embarking on the biggest spiritual journey of my life. Successfully navigating any journey requires nourishment - and I feel like this one requires mega-preparation. I have already met so many new people and allowed so many into my life - something which is often outside my comfort zone. I want my life to show I really believe what I say. There have also been fantastic answers to prayer as I find myself praying in the spirit more frequently. And these things remind me I am blessed and loved and that my life is really not in my own hands. There is peace in knowing that.
Having said all that there have also been some very difficult days these past few weeks. I was sick for awhile and that included a headache which continuously woke me up at night. It made me feel constantly irritable and impatient. In addition, there was a cough which is very annoying and lingers still. I am not used to having issues with my health, so it always gets me down when it happens.
Then there have been some very tense times as Sarah and I try to sort through everything which must be done and prioritize the needs of The Torch. We don’t always see eye-to-eye about what we are doing and that causes friction between us. Each of us brings unique gifts to this project. It is very clear to both of us we need our Board of Directors to grow and expand so we can focus on the areas God has gifted us for while allowing others to bless with theirs. We know the two of us don’t have all the answers to every question that comes up and we want to be wise as we move forward with The Torch. Quite often each of us have different ideas about how to solve some of the problems we have faced. We have frustrated each other on several occasions and had to take time to cool off so we could re-group.