There was a time I blissfully munched on Snickers and Almond Joys. I thought these bars of sugar, nugget, coconut, and cocoa were quite a treat. A good friend once referred to me as an ‘inhaler’ of common, run-of-the-mill chocolate sweets. But, hey, this was all I knew. Then one day I wandered into Wiseman House Chocolates, a place Texas Highways calls ‘Chocolate Heaven’, and now I am ruined. I cannot go back to the other stuff. Oh … I could, but I don’t want to. The Gran Saman truffle is quite an experience, and once you have had this experience and are blessed with this knowledge, a brightly wrapped, convenience store chocolate bar holds little appeal. I still occasionally go into the local gas station mini-mart, walk around looking for something sweet and chocolate, but walk out the door with nothing. Why? Because I know and recall the experience of something far better.
In the realm of faith formation, what I have experienced of God’s goodness, grace, and love changes everything and causes me to be expectant of more of the same. Knowledge of who God is and what he does radically alters my ideas of goodness, forgiveness, and love. I now live in the hope of true goodness, real forgiveness and selfless love.
And yet, I still look around for identity and satisfaction in stuff and ideas that I know do not compare with what I have experienced of God. I could say that I am either dazzled by bright wrappings or my consumer conditioning takes over. But the truth is that I forget who God is and what he does, and thus, I settle for short-term gratification that gives me a quick fix or fills me up for the moment. Once the sugar high is over, I feel empty and cheated.
I need to be with people of faith, because they remind me of who God is and what he can do. I need my local church, because it is where I gather with other recovering inhalers of the common, run-of-the-mill stuff of life. I need to hear the words again and again - ”O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refugee in Him” (Ps 34:8).
The glittered, brightly-packaged, attractive stuff of life beckons, but I have tasted the real deal. I am prone to go back to what seems to be enough, but I don’t want to. I have come to know God through Jesus Christ and have experienced his goodness, mercy, grace, love … and so I hope in him all the more.