My friend, Scott, wrote today’s devotional.
I love hot dogs. I know what you’re thinking, major spiritual insight there Scott. But, it’s true, I do, and just this past week we had a hot dog sale fundraiser where I work. It only helped fuel an idea that was already starting to take shape in my head, and that, I hope and pray, will be a spiritual lesson for you today. So, to repeat my initial statement, I love hot dogs. They are probably a top 5 food item for me. I’ve had very few hot dogs in my life that I’d say were bad. Most have been somewhere between good and very good. But in 42 years, when talking about hot dogs I could purchase consistently and not just homemade or something like that, two hot dogs have always stood out to my palette as the best.
One is the Dairy Queen’s. For as long as I can remember, I have loved the hot dogs from the Dairy Queen. The best part was, it didn’t matter which Dairy Queen, the hot dogs always tasted the same. But despite that, it was pretty heartbreaking when the one in Walhalla closed down. Still, any chance I get to stop when I see a Dairy Queen on the road, I do, and the hot dogs are still as delicious as ever.
The other was a more unique place. Growing up in Salem, SC, we didn’t have too many things we could brag about to the rest of the county. We didn’t have many stores, we didn’t have any traffic lights, and even now, we still don’t. But one thing we could always brag on was we had a McDonald’s. No, not the franchise chain with the golden arches and Ronald the clown. Ours was a local mom-and-pop diner owned and operated by George and Bertha McDonald. I don’t remember ever getting anything that wasn’t good. The hamburgers were fantastic, the milkshakes delicious, and in my mind, the hot dogs were as good as they got. The chili was spicy but not hot and where the wiener met the bun it was just soft and moist and tasted so good.
When McDonald’s closed back around the late 80’s/early 90’s, that hot dog that I loved seemed forever lost. Over the years I’ve tried them from all sorts of places, searching for something like that taste from my youth, but never finding anything that was even close, in my opinion. That is, until a couple of years ago when a friend and I had been hiking up around Jones Gap State Park and on our way back home decided to stop at the F Mart in Cleveland, SC to see if we could find something to devour.
Despite going by the place countless times over the years on my way to sporting events, I had never been inside the old family owned store. To our surprise when we walked in, we realized it was also a little diner. They had already shut down about everything, but they did have some hot dogs left. It was music to my ears, so I ordered a couple to go, no onions!! Once we were back out on Highway 11 headed back toward Walhalla, I took my first bite of an F mart hot dog, and for the first time in probably 20+ years, I tasted a hot dog that was as close to the ones from McDonald’s as I ever had. It was like Christmas had come early for me!!
Since then, I try to stop every time I’m in that area, but occasionally I can’t stand the craving any longer, and I hop in my car and take a drive north on Highway 11 for 43 miles and I go get me a bag of hot dogs, usually at least 4, sometimes 6. And you know what? It’s worth every mile. Sometimes I’ll find something along the way to stop and see, but other times I just enjoy the drive, the views, maybe the music on the radio, but especially the taste of those hot dogs and the memories they conjure up.
Which now brings me to the spiritual lesson God showed me in all this. To have one of my favorite hot dogs, when I want it bad enough, I’m willing to drive 43 miles one way to go get one. What God asked me, and what I’m asking you, is how far would you be willing to go for Him?
How far would you go to explain His word to someone and tell them about Jesus? In Acts 8:26-39, we read about an angel of the Lord telling Philip to go out to a place where he would encounter an Ethiopian eunuch. He would end up explaining to the man the scripture that he was reading, telling him that the scripture was about Jesus, then baptizing him. Philip traveled about 30 miles.
How far would you go to see Jesus be born into someone’s heart and life? In Luke 2:1-7, we read about a decree going out from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken. Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea and there Jesus was born. They traveled about 90 miles.
How far would you go to see your destiny fulfilled, even if it didn’t all makes sense and you would have to endure the betrayal of not only friends but family as well? In the book of Genesis, chapter 37 and chapters 39-50, we read about the life of Joseph. God revealed to Joseph at a young age, through dreams, that he was going to one day be in a prominent position in society. But anger and jealousy led his brothers to sell him into slavery, his owner would eventually have him thrown into jail because of lies, and the people he helped while in jail then forgot about him for a long time. But, it all eventually took Joseph from Canaan to Egypt where, in time, he would rise to that promised position and help save a nation of people. Despite all of his struggles, Joseph was ultimately able to tell his brothers “you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”(Genesis 50:20) Joseph’s journey took him about 200 miles to his place of destiny. How far would you go?
How far would you go to see Jesus? In Matthew 2:1, scripture says that Magi, or wise men, came from the east to Jerusalem to see Jesus. One writer estimates that these men may very well have traveled for 1500 miles or more, spanning more than a year, just to get to see Jesus. How far would you be willing to go? In Matthew 7:14, Jesus said “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
To live for Jesus is not easy. People will mock you and laugh at you and eventually leave you. Despite the fact that what we’re all searching for is found in Him, most will turn to every other option under the sun before they will ever turn to Him. As Jesus said Himself, only a few find it. So my question to you is simple: how far are you willing to go? Are you willing to walk through life alone, if that’s what it takes to get to heaven and see Him? Are you willing to walk away from your plans and dreams in order to find His will and purpose for your life? And if you already have decided to follow Jesus, then how far are you willing to go to share the Good News with others? I hope the answer is as far as it takes. That’s what may be required. But like my hot dogs, it’s worth going as far as you have to. Just make sure you leave off the onions.
God bless, Scott