Rite of Passage: Mealtime lessons
My name is Walker Moore, and I am a dipper. My wife says I don’t really like food; I only use it so I have something to dip. I like barbecue sauces, honey mustard sauces, tomato sauces, steak sauces, garlic sauces, sweet and sour sauces . . . and don’t even get me started on the hot sauces.
Since I’m a missionary, my taste also extends to the likes of Asian sauces, German sauces, Chinese sauces, Caribbean Satay sauces, Brazilian sauces, Chilean Lime sauces and Hungarian Paprika sauces. There has not been a country to whose sauces God has not called me. I dip my chicken, my French fries, my tortilla chips and my bread. In fact, there is no food I can think of that I won’t dip into some kind of sauce. Of course, there are those purists who believe that you shouldn’t put anything on a steak: no A1 sauce, no Heinz 57 Sauce and the purists’ cardinal rule: No ketchup should ever touch a steak. The flavor of the meat juices are the only sauce you need.
I was visiting the Florida home of my pastor friend, Nathan Blackwell, and his lovely wife, Trish, one evening when he cooked a delicious barbecue steak dinner. Like me, he thinks a steak can taste delicious in its own juices, but also enjoys manipulating the taste to make it something completely different. That night, he used a unique mustard barbeque sauce. I bit into that steak and my taste buds burst with flavor as though they were participating in a Fourth of July fireworks display. When I returned home, I bragged and bragged about this delicious sauce, telling my wife and staff all about it. I had never tasted anything like it. I came home from work the other day and there on our front porch sat a white USPS box. Inside? Two 16-ounce bottles of Jimmy Bear’s Original BarBerQ sauce, a gift from my dear friends.
That reminds me—did you know Jesus was a Baptist? Our denomination has a well-known propensity for fellowship meals where we mix great theology with some of the world’s best carry-in dinners. Why else do you think I’m a Baptist?
Jesus’ life bears this out. Some of His greatest miracles had to do with food. Remember when He turned water into wine? The wine He made was the best of the evening and became the topic of conversation late into the night. And remember how Peter was out trying to catch some food? His nets remained empty, so Jesus told him to cast them out on the other side of the boat. Peter obeyed, and his nets came up so full they nearly burst.
All four Gospels record the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples had no way to feed the masses, so Jesus took a little boy’s five loaves and two fishes, blessed and distributed them. The crowd ate until everyone was satisfied, and the leftovers totaled a heaping 12 baskets full. Another time, Jesus fed a crowd of 4,000 who had been hanging out listening to Him for three days. You can bet that when the people got home, they told story after story about the amazing things Jesus did with . . . food.
I believe God designed us as creatures who are intended to dine together. A unique interaction takes place over meals that can only happen at the table among family and friends. Yet somehow in our busy lives we have forsaken the family meal.
I suggest that you turn off the TV, call your entire family to the dinner table and engage in the old-time art of conversation. By this I mean not, “How was your day?” but “What do you think about what’s happening in Venezuela?” or “Can you remember last Sunday’s sermon? What point was our pastor trying to make?” Mealtime can be a great place to lay down a godly foundation in a child’s life as you teach listening and thinking skills along the way.
As I write this article, I am in the country of Panama trying to teach students to be like Jesus. Do you know the first two characteristics Scripture reveals about Him? Luke 2:46 tells us His parents found Him in the temple courts with the teachers, “listening to them and asking them questions.” These two characteristics served Him well for the rest of His life. He listened to the woman at the well and the solider whose servant was sick. He also asked tremendous questions; in fact, asking questions was one of the main ways He taught others.
Ask God to show you ways to use your family mealtime to help your child develop these Christ-like qualities. Now, would someone please pass the barbecue sauce?
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.