He says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18b
I discovered the difference between the real deal and everything else. My wife Judy and I traveled south to see family. Since I am still working, she is usually our representative to our southern family. She would make the circuit, sitting and talking and visiting, all of which is right up her alley. But this time…things were different. I decided it was time for me to make time to see family and I am so glad that I did. I was reminded of the value of family and in the process rediscovered the value of good southern cooking. We stayed with two of my sisters and then with one of Judy’s nephew’s and his wife. At each place, queens of southern delights strutted their stuff, but it all came together one beautiful Thursday evening.
First, in Valdosta where she is from and where a bunch of her family lives, there is a family of restaurants that are excellent for two reasons. First, they are all buffets and second, they all specialize in southern cooking. The buffet is a spread of everything southern…fried chicken, ribs (both fried and smoked), fish, pork chops, chicken gizzards and livers, pot roast and the list goes on and on. Then comes the vegetables…field peas, lima beans, baby lima beans, black-eyed peas, collard and turnip greens, cream corn, grits and…well, you get the idea. Judy and I enjoyed it so much we went twice.
Well, that was all good but then came Thursday night. Her family decided to have a mini family reunion of sorts. Now just like my family, her family is blessed with many queens of southern cuisine. I admit I just couldn’t wait to taste what was going to be brought. About thirty relatives showed up and each family brought several dishes. Now imagine with me. Take the list above and double it and you have a fair idea of how much food was there. Now, take what we had at the restaurant, which was really good, and give it a multiplication factor of at least two and maybe three and you begin to understand the Allen family feast. It was beyond delicious—and not just a dish here or there but every dish. I won’t even try to describe the deserts. Wonderful southern food with a wonderful southern family and well, I sure was glad I didn’t miss it.
I did learn something through my southern food experience. You see, I was very content with the restaurant version of southern heaven until I tasted the real deal and all of a sudden, I was reminded of the difference. The real thing made in someone’s kitchen with loving hands and hearts made the restaurant version somewhat of a cheap imitation. Oh, it was good till I had the real thing and then there was no comparison. The real thing trumps anything else every time.
That truth is worth remembering. There are a lot of imitations out there in the world and they will try and make you discontent with the real thing. They will try and steal your heart out of a good marriage or make you discontent and leave relationships that have satisfied for years. Like so many of the commercials today, they wave their plastic happiness and try to convince you that their “something” is better. Don’t believe it—the real deal is better than a plastic substitution no matter how good it looks. And by the way, that is definitely true when it comes to religion and God. Don’t ever be tempted to trade the practice of religion for a God who loves you so much He gave His Son to die for you. Like He said in His Book, “I am the Lord, there is no other.”
I am grateful for my trip south, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn once again about the importance of what is real and what is second place. Never be satisfied with something else when you can have what is real and never trade what is first for what is second. It is always a bad deal.
So, if you are blessed to have some southern relatives and you visit with them, make sure to sit-down with them for supper. Chances are you will discover your own spread of southern delights. And remember to be content and grateful for the spread that God has set before you. He is a good, good Father and, unlike religion, He loves you so, so much and no matter what, you know, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne