God and the Salad Luncheon

In the spring of the year in small towns in Kansas ladies often gather in church basements for their annual salad luncheon. This event summons forth the culinary creativity of the local community. Here you may find things done to beets and broccoli, which no respectable vegetable or fruit would ever dream of. Featured ingredients of these marvels include Jell-O, cool whip, Eagle brand condensed milk, and cherry pie filling.

The salads, spread out over several tables, accented with canning jars of lilacs, are something to behold, maybe, for some, even to kneel before. Chicken salad, cucumber salad, pasta salad, bean salad, and seven layered pea salad are served in big bowls and platters. Rainbow colored Jell-O salads hold bits of carrots, celery, fruit and nuts under layers of cream cheese and shredded cabbage.

After the meal, the women clear the tables, refill the glasses of ice tea, and settle back to listen to the guest speaker from out of town.

On one of these occasions over twenty five years ago I was that out of town guest speaker. This fact alone made me an expert on something which these women already knew plenty about: prayer.

So this is how I came to be finishing up my cranberry fluff salad, as my hostess was introducing me. I began to pray, as was my custom, “Lord, what do you want me to tell the people?” This was the prayer I often prayed as I prepared sermons and presentations. Though this prayer was part of my preparation long before my actual presentation, I would check in with God just before I began speaking in case there were any updates.

After I prayed, what I had always heard in the silence of my heart was, “Tell the people that I love them.” Okay, I would think. I can roll with this. Over the years, God was very consistent in the direction: “Here’s the word, sweetie, tell the little boogers I love em. They still need to hear it.”

So it was, that as my hostess was reading off my credentials to the ladies and I was wiping the crumbs from my mouth, I asked my question, what do you want me to tell the people?

And God said:

Tell the people that I miss them.

This post marks the one hundredth post of the Praying Life Blog. Over the past two years, I have been attempting to tell you this in various ways. This post gives it to you straight:

God misses you. God longs for you, pines for you, walks the floor at night for you. God throws himself down on the ground weeping for you. God slumps on the couch, drowning his sorrow, eating three cartons of Haagen-Dazs rocky road ice cream for you.

God misses you.

A whole lot.

This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Ephesus:

I am the one who holds the seven stars in my right hand, and I walk among the seven gold lamp stands. Listen to what I say.

I know everything you have done, including your hard work and how you have endured. I know you won’t put up with anyone who is evil. When some people pretended to be apostles, you tested them and found out that they were liars. You have endured and gone through hard times because of me, and you have not given up.

But I do have something against you!

And it is this:

You don’t have as much love as you used to.                                                Revelation 2: 1-4

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