Inspiration strikes in funny places. Do you find that? How often was Michelangelo just minding his own business, enjoying a midday burger or his equivalent of the daily crossword puzzle before out of nowhere, BOOM — you know what would be cool? Pictures on the ceiling!! Given the prolific nature of his work, I assume this was a problem of epidemic proportions. Guys like Picasso I sort of assume had their burgers laced with a little something extra, like a saucy helping of nihilistic despair, but the point is, the ideas still came.
So there I was, sitting in a sunny booth at midday with the Beloved, awaiting a burger (I know — could I be more like Michelangelo?) and a milkshake, because if you go to lunch at a place that advertises both in the name, wouldn’t you be silly to order anything else? It would be like going to an Italian restaurant and asking for a taco. When in Rome, drink the milkshake. First, I should establish that nothing about this scene was normal. We never get to go on dates, and I thought about explaining why this really shouldn’t count as one, but have decided to write on a need-to-know basis and what you need to know for the moment is that the Quail were happily ensconced in their grandparents’ care and attentions and we had just come out of a thoroughly exhausting meeting.
Lunch seemed like a brilliant, if not downright forbidden and romantic notion, and we were really hungry, so I didn’t initially think anything of the lucky golden cat toy waving at me at the cash register, with those eerie unblinking cat eyes. I mean, who am I to have an opinion on how a small business owner decorates? It is a heck of a lot less weird than the huge blue and green twelfth man motifs that are so common around these parts (that’s right — I am exactly the kind of monster that has to actively resist the urge to stop cape-wearing individuals in grocery stores and dentist offices and tell them horrible truths about the world: kittens die. Toenail fungus is real and you probably have it. Oh… and you don’t play for the Seahawks).
But then the Michael Buble songs with the awkward Korean overdubs came on and we realized that possibly that good luck cat was an essential part of the cooking process, as in fingers crossed that this tastes like American food! It never struck me as odd to see the cat at the nail salon; seeking good luck while dealing with the very real danger of toenail fungus (see above) is downright logical, really. But that which is beneficial for the toe fungus is generally not something I want to see anywhere near my burger, so I began to get uneasy while we waited.
Actually this story is not about food poisoning. The burger was fine. Nothing to write home about. But sitting there, warm sunlight pouring through the bamboo shades, a whole series of writing ideas filtered into my consciousness… it would be cool if I could remember even half of them, but these days in the state of Washington, abortion is on demand and paper napkins are only available for purchase, by request, so I had nothing to write on. I can tell you, however, that every last one had a similar theme (again — Michelangelo, me… separated at birth, am I right?), that theme being, in a nutshell:
GET OUT OF THE BOAT.
The end. Nice talking to you.
I am always surprised when my train is not readily apparent to all of you right at the outset. Maybe you skipped your coffee today. Worse, maybe I skipped mine…
If there has been a recurring message that the Lord has been writing in lipstick on the bathroom mirror of my heart (what? Your heart doesn’t come with a bathroom? How else do you explain your uncanny ability to quote sitcoms from the 80’s? “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks…”), it has been one of stepping out in faith before I see any reason to. It is Jesus calling to Peter to come to him across the waves, and Peter getting out of the boat, having no earthly reason to think those raucous waves would hold him, but having every heavenly reason to believe his Lord. It is Jonah from the belly of the whale, asserting the faithfulness of God even when the only view he has is of blubber. It is grounded confidence in the goodness and faithfulness of God amidst suffering… before you see dry land.
Because we like proof. We want to know that a person is trustworthy, irrefutably so, before we lean on them, we want guarantees that we will not get hurt, we want it in writing that after 3 stinky days in the fish, there will be an epic spit take and our pain will end.
I say we. I mean I.
But that isn’t what I keep reading on the bathroom mirror. It isn’t what I am being asked to do. I am asked to believe God, and obey. Trust and obey. Give up my personal comforts, my emotional hedges, my desire for guarantees and certainties and term limits on trials. I am asked to hold onto Jesus… and do the next thing.
P.S. The Beloved has observed (because when I am feeling particularly witty, I am seized with the desire to read things aloud to him, poor man) that this post really had nothing to do with Korean hamburgers. Yep. That’s true. He goes on to note that possibly, he is not my target demographic. I wasn’t going to say it.