When we moved from Kentucky to Tennessee a few years ago, there were several things that I knew that I would miss. Among those things, the nearest White Castle was going to be three hours from my house. For some, that’s not a big deal. For me, it became an obsession. I don’t usually have memorable dreams at night. I dreamt of White Castle…often. Especially the loaded cheese fries.
So, when we moved back to Kentucky six months ago, imagine my joy in the fact there would be three White Castle locations within fifteen minutes of my house, including one a mere FIVE minutes down the road.
The first week we were back, I ate it all the time. But…something didn’t taste right. Being a fan…I kept going. Occasionally it was good, but never quite like I remembered.
To add insult to injury, the location closest to my house closed down. SERIOUSLY?
If you know me at all, my allegiance to White Castle runs deep. I started to have an identity crisis. Who am I? Why do these not taste like I remember? There was at least one occasion where the taste was so bad I couldn’t finish the meal. Jenni was ready to have me examined.
So what do you do when something that you’ve always loved doesn’t meet expectations?
In this scenario, I kept going.
This afternoon I needed to go down to get my driver’s license. It just so happens that the courthouse is located next door to White Castle AND I had a birthday gift card. I needed lunch anyway and I’m nothing if not practical and so I pulled into the drive thru and placed my order.
To be honest, my excitement was not what it used to be. I got to the church, sat down to eat my meal and….
WOW! This! This is what I remember! Why did I only get four sliders? I could eat a hundred of these! When can I go back?!?!
And just like that, I remembered what made me so loyal in the first place.
I have a strong suspicion that there are many people out there that have been waiting for this kind of experience in the church world. Perhaps you grew up in church and over the years have been burned by poor experiences. You keep trying, but never leave feeling joyful. Depending on the depths of your experience, you might have even given up on faith at all.
Perhaps, you are a believer that has been sitting in a pew for years, but nothing feels the way that you’d like. You have the choice: you can leave or you can keep pushing and see what happens.
My hope is that you do not give up. I don’t always love church. I can be as critical of the institutional church as anyone. There have been many instances in my life where I felt burned by an experience or repeated mediocrity left me questioning if the way that I felt in the past was just a part of my history and had no bearing on my past.
If that is you. Keep pushing. Keep attending. Keep asking questions. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I do believe this: Your faithfulness will not be wasted.
Some might think I’m sacrilegious for comparing my White Castle experience to my experience at church. They obviously aren’t on the same level, but I can say that White Castle earned my loyalty because of many years of positive experiences that caused me to stick with them through the tough times. And I was rewarded with a meal like today.
That’s it. That’s my deep thought for the day fueled by a belly full of sliders. Stay faithful in the tough times and watch to see what great things God will do.