Pala Buffet, by Pala Casino
My dad ate to live. I lean in the opposite direction—I live to eat. So much, I wonder if it’s not my greatest spiritual gift. Logic can support that—I allow those with the gift of hospitality to exercise that gift! My gift, or curse, makes it hard to resist the buffets at our two local casinos (the one above is the best-- the Pala buffet). For just $23.24, you encounter over 200 choices to entice you to commit gluttony. And I do! Shrimp, New York steak, mussels, crab legs, custom omelets, prime rib—if I went on the saliva dripping down my chin would short out my keyboard. To avoid the recurring sin of gluttony, I limit myself to once a year. About time for a return.
But a recent message by our pastor challenged me. In John 4, Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem, walked north 30 miles, and stopped at a well nein Sychar about noon. He sent them grab some grub in town while he stayed. A woman came by to draw water (this is a fascinating story, check it out in more depth on your own), and Jesus had an intriguing encounter, full of wit and word play, that resulted in her deciding to follow Jesus. She went back to tell her town, the disciples returned with their buffet and offered it to Jesus.
His unexpected response? “I have a kind of food you know nothing about…My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me” (John 4:32,34, New Living Translation).
What fed Jesus? What nourished him? Not the Pala buffet, great as it is. Rather, having a chance to do God’s will, to tell others about him, to serve. That convicts me. Now, I do love God. I do serve him. I’ve sacrificed over the years, willingly and freely. But these verses deal with motives. Pure motives. Priorities.
Most followers of Jesus want to obey and sacrifice and serve, and we do. But often it’s out of duty or obligation or fear or habit or paying our dues as a ticket to rewards in heaven. Jesus transcended that. If I live to eat, Jesus ate his “food” to nourish his soul. With the same passion that I attack a seafood buffet, Jesus lived to follow God. Regardless of the cost.
I don’t. Sometimes, sure. But not consistently. My desires for comfort, for holding on to imperfection, to guide my own life, to experience pleasure, all diminish having Jesus’ degree of passion. Those factors, and others like them, likely touch us all, in varying degrees. We ARE imperfect. We DO sin. We all have physical and emotional needs.
But do we set a goal to have such a commitment to God’s glory, his mission, his will? That’s my goal for this New Year. Made just now, by a man who doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions. I want to feast on doing God’s will. I encourage you to join me
Kick Starting the Application
Why do you serve God? Like Jesus, with a pure hunger, or like me, more inconsistent? What primarily keeps you from Jesus’ model? What one thing will you change this week to begin the process of progress?