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I Just Wanted Some Jif!


I hope that as you read this post, things are going well for you and your family. If you are anything like me, the past two weeks have provided you with ample time to reflect on your days, as we have significantly more quiet time built into our daily rhythm (There is a huge exception for any of you who are staying at home with your young children, attempting to school them from home. Grace and peace to you my friends!). Often, I find myself sitting quietly in my office or at home, thinking about how I acted over the last twenty-four hours. Sometimes, I feel like I have done my best to represent Jesus in the world. Other times, well, not so much. So, what I want to do today is just share with you one thing I have learned about myself over the past few fourteen days.

Simply put, I have a long way to go before I can claim to be following the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. Why do I say that? Because, frankly, I can find a way to complain about the most ridiculous things. I have realized just how easy it is to be ungrateful for this beautiful gift of life. Not so much in the overarching story, but ungrateful for the small details. Yesterday, I was walking through Publix when I remembered that we needed some peanut butter. After going through the first seven aisles of the store, I found my way to the peanut butter section only to discover that there is no Jif. As a matter of fact, not only was there no Jif, there were no brands of any kind, except for Peter Pan. Rather than just grab what was available, I caught myself staring at the black space where the Jif was supposed to be and thinking to myself, “Are you serious? Do I really have to buy Peter Pan? This store is awful and this entire situation sucks”. In the words of Latrell Sprewell, the Knicks guard from the 90’s, “Don’t they know I’ve got kids to feed?” As those thoughts were running through my internal monologue, I saw a woman on the same aisle, buying some cereal. I couldn’t help but comment to her that I know my priorities are completely out of alignment when I seriously just complained about the type of peanut butter I had to buy. She laughed and nodded her head, surely thinking about how I was an ungrateful punk.

You know, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount where he says, “Do not worry about what your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes…but seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25,33). I could try and argue that Jesus could not begin to imagine the taste differential between Jif and Peter Pan brand peanut butter. I mean, seriously, how can he tell us not to worry about what we are going to eat when I have to sacrifice my wonderful creamy Jif (that pairs so well with grape jelly) and instead have to purchase crunchy disgusting “B” list spread? And it isn’t just peanut butter! Instead of chicken breast, we are having pork for dinner. In the place of spinach as a side, I will be eating kale this week. Don’t even get me started on kale. There is nothing you can do to convince me that kale was meant to be eaten by human beings. The list goes on and on. Obviously, Jesus didn’t live in twenty-first century America.

If that previous paragraph sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. But it is how way too many of us think in our current cultural climate. My internal monologue shows just how unbelievably selfish and self-centered I can be. But it isn’t just me, it is most of us. If you are reading this post, the reality of our existence is that we live in a world where we can have almost anything we want at any given moment. If I want to buy something, I do it. If there is something I can’t find in a store, I simply get on Amazon and click “Buy Now”. We are not accustomed to making a second-tier selection. As the 90’s Burger King ads said so clearly, we want to “Have It Our Way”. Anything else just doesn’t seem right.

Yet, precisely because things are so different in this time, we are presented with an opportunity. If we are willing to take an introspective look at our lives in moments like these, when shelves are running low our favorite delicacies, then we are able to take a look at our thought process and see where our hearts need adjusting. We can decide where we need to go in a different direction with our thoughts…where we need, to use an old religious word, to repent. Selfishness has no room in the Kingdom of God, and it is clear to me that my attitude and action were….sinful. I can do better. We can do better. It might not be your attitude at Publix. It could be your resentment about social distancing. It might be the lack of time you have because children are now consuming your entire life! Where is it in your life that you can find an ungrateful heart? How are you going to change your rhythm?

Last week in my sermon, I preached about the Lord’s Prayer. I mentioned that rather than that being a scripted prayer for us to use every day, Jesus intended that his prayer would serve as a framework for our own prayer life. We begin with a Good Father who loves us and wants the best for our lives (If you missed the sermon, you can catch it here). But there is one section in the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus tells us to pray that each day we will be “given this day, the bread we need now.” While some have interpreted this as spiritual bread, I am pretty sure Jesus was talking about actual, physical food. Give us this day, the bread we need now. He didn’t say to ask for Focaccia, Ciabatta, or Brioche. Jesus simply said to ask for the bread we need now. Whatever it is, you eat it and you receive life. You consume your bread and you are nourished. Take the bread…and eat it.

I finished shopping for groceries and made my way to checkout line. As usual, the good folks at Publix were kind and engaging, which I am sure is not easy for them right now. The cashier and I exchanged pleasantries and then she started to check me out. Taking her time, she ran each item across the scanner and put them in a plastic bag. Avocado, Honeycrisp Apples, Blueberries, on and on until she finally reached the peanut butter. She ran it across the scanner and looked at the container. Then she looked up at me and said, “Oh Peter Pan! Aren’t you lucky. That is my favorite kind of peanut butter.”

Tomorrow, I will go to work. I will pack my lunch as I have done almost every day for the past two weeks. But tomorrow will be different. Instead of leftovers from the night before or a turkey sandwich with chips, I will pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It will be made with a grateful heart….and Peter Pan peanut butter. It will be an amazing sandwich and I will be thankful. I have the bread I need for today.

I will be grateful for what I have in this life. I hope that you will be, too.

Grace and Peace,


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