A week or so ago, we were sitting at dinner, admiring a swarm of sunshine colored leaves that were dancing and twirling across the back deck down toward the water. We had the door slid open and the chilly breeze made dinner an affair that required a sweater. THE BEST ever, in my humble opinion.
On the menu was the best burger I have ever had in my adult life. This is not a word of a lie. Let me make your acquaintance and let me say that collard greens and chow chow have been sorely underestimated in the American diet. They rock, which means the South has been right all along. Skeptical? Your taste buds will convince you. You will LOVE me for this recipe. We will be forever bff’s.
Stevie and I joined hands and said grace, mumbling the words to hurry along the first bite.
We could barely focus on our conversation on account of how good the burgers were.
And also, did that mention that Stevie had this dinner ready when I got home? With HOMEMADE FRIES?!?!? You do not even know the delight in my heart.
This was just an ordinary night by anyone else’s standards, but a night of epic culinary proportions, which I why I remember the sparse conversation so well.
“I saw John yesterday morning and he said he ran into you the other day,” Stevie said as he scooped a perfect pile of chow chow onto his burger.
“Yeah, he had the kids at the grocery store so we chatted awhile.” I answered, while I copied him and was generous with the condiments.
“He said something I found to be pretty curious about you. He said you really walk the walk.” Then he looked up at me over his readers with those confessional/grace alone/Lutheran eyes and I knew right away what he was thinking.
He lives with me everyday. He’s sees the best and worst of me. Mostly the worst.
He knows all the ways that I’m not “walking the walk.” He knows them better than anyone. My mind rushed back through a hundred memories.
I spent most of my adult life worried that I wasn’t walking the walk, fretting at all the ways I was not measuring up to the standards of my church or my own preconceived notion of what it meant to be a committed Christian. I always knew I wasn’t pulling it off which is why I got saved every other week or rededicated my life every five minutes.
When I found the historic church I learned what walking the walk really means.
It means to walk through the doors of the church and hear His Words of grace and mercy.
It means to walk down the aisle and receive his body and blood for forgiveness and life and salvation.
It means walking to the waters to be washed in the blessed flood of His baptismal grace.
It means to dress up in His righteousness and walk into your neighbor’s life wearing His love.
It means to walk and walk and walk and keep walking to the places where He has promised to be.
I’m not the only one who’s in a world of trouble if walking the walk means to be good or moral or upstanding or sacrificial, or if it means to always tithe and give all our money to the poor, or if it means to live up to all the impossible standards the Scriptures sets before us.
We fail miserably at all those things and we know it. Or even worse, we think we are walking the walk, which means the sin of pride has so swallowed up our good works that we are left holding all our thinning and torn and worn out filthy rags.
We must confess all the ways we are not walking the walk and then fall into the arms of the ONE who has walked the walk for us, all the way to a cross, who lived and died in our place—who brings us into His death and raises us to new life.
Then we crawl back to him in repentance of the overwhelming pride that has led us to think we could ever keep one iota of His law. We throw ourselves at His mercy and admit we’ve been wrong and prideful and lazy and arrogant and apathetic. We confess our utter inability to do anything to shiny ourselves up to Him or to the world.
Stevie and I finish dinner in the quiet, the wind slowly circling around us, tangy Southern relish spilling onto the plate with every bite. This meal, as good as it is, won’t hold a candle to the one we’ll share on Sunday when we will walk a familiar walk together toward a different kind of table. We will kneel and hold our hands out like beggars and God will feed us the eternal food that never perishes—the Spirit hovering, joining our flesh to Christ’s in this miracle feast we call communion.
Heaven will come down and we will be filled.
And onward we will walk.