FIRST-PERSON: Lessons you learn from a naked chicken sandwich

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--Haven't you ever wished that you had God's sense of humor? It's so refreshing and, well, funny.

Take the other day for instance. On a hectic, cloudy Monday, I had dashed out between meetings, grabbed your typical burger and fries, and quickly returned to my office at the small Baptist university where I work.

Since our apartment is right behind the campus, I debated at length on stopping there for lunch. I could put my feet up, enjoy my meal in somewhat quiet serenity, and pick up where I had left off with the book I had started the night before. But, my sense of work duty prevailed and I quickly walked back into my windowless room and closed the door behind me.

I had reasoned to myself during the five-minute ride back that I could at least start the book I had just checked out while I munched down my sweet tea and chicken sandwich.

Once in my office, I quickly pulled out the contents of my greasy fast-food bag, trying not to make too much of a mess on my already-messy desk, and was alarmed to discover on opening the box containing my sandwich, that the top bun was missing! There was the lettuce, there was the cheese and the chicken -- but no top bun. The nerve!

Slightly irritated, the thought crossed my mind for half a second that I should drive back to that fast-food franchise and demand my top bun. After all, I paid good money for a whole sandwich, not just part of one! Then I considered driving home and grabbing a hamburger bun there. But, of course I knew that it would take more time to drive home then to just eat the topless sandwich. Holding it like a bagel and sighing, I shook my head as I started munching, picked up my book and began reading.

The book I was reading was Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art by Madeleine L'Engle. The first chapter, "Cosmos from Chaos," began with the author discussing an incident that had reminded her of the importance for just taking time to be. (A broken foot, as the author relayed, will do that.) As L'Engle writes in her book, "When I am constantly running, there is no time for being." And with no time for being, there is no time to listen to what God might want to say to you.

I thought of the illustration about a lion tamer that my pastor recently gave in one of his Sunday sermons. When the lion tamer walks into a cage with several 200-300 pound lions roaring, he carries only a whip to get their attention and a stool. He doesn't use the stool to sit on -- rather, he points it straight at them, the four ends directly in their faces, which completely immobilizes the lions, making them useless. Why? Because the lion tries to focus on all four legs of the stool at once instead of the man behind it, and as a result, he becomes confused, distracted and even disoriented.

So many times in life, we juggle family, work, relationships, and challenges leaving no space or time to just "be" and to focus on the One who is behind it all, the One who has everything under control. Or we get so involved in church activities, committees and Bible studies that we sometimes miss the bigger picture of just taking time to be with God and making ourselves available to hear what He might say.

I suddenly paused from my simultaneous reading and munching to stop and stare at my half-eaten naked chicken sandwich and I had to smile at the thought that even a fast-food restaurant can sometimes move too fast for itself. I breathed a silent prayer, thanking God for His way of telling me to slow down.

When we find our fast-paced lives running us over, it's time to take a few moments to find a quiet place to sit, and listen for nothing but the calming silence of the moment and the still voice of the Creator.

With or without the top bun on your sandwich.

Horn is Director of News and Media Relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. She lives in Jackson with her husband and their ten-month old son where they attend Poplar Heights Baptist Church.

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