For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
It was donut heaven. Judy and I took a trip to middle Tennessee to do some hiking and be amazed all over again at the wonder of God’s creation. We stayed in the small city of Cookeville which is about an hour east of Nashville. We had driven by there many times on our way to Pigeon Forge and points east but never stopped. And for some reason…this time it was our destination. It was wonderful.
Within a few minutes driving time were some of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. One, Fall Creek Falls, is the tallest falls east of the Rockies—256 feet of free falling water. Then there was Burgess Falls which had not one, but three separate falls…each one more spectacular than the one before. Finally we drove over to Rock Island State Park and were amazed by a river that fell and fell and fell—each time creating a beautiful waterfall. Then, coming out of caves in a huge, high bluff was a massive waterfall falling into the river. Unbelievable. I would think God would get a 10 for all the beauty that we have seen. And then…there was Ralph’s.
When we stay at an Airbnb, we always check out all the literature that the host leaves to make the visit more enjoyable. We also check out comments in the guest book for tidbits of information. That is where we heard about Ralph’s. Three different previous guests mentioned this mom and pop donut shop in downtown Cookeville. We had to visit. To not do so would have been a travesty of donut-ism. So we were on our way on Monday morning when Judy checked their website. Oh no…closed on Mondays. We had to wait another day.
Tuesday morning after planning our hikes for the day, we headed to Ralph’s Donut Shop to ensure we had plenty of calories on hand for our journey. When we arrived it was indeed an ordinary mom and pop donut shop. But trust me…it was anything but ordinary. The first thing I noticed was the sign stating that they had been open since 1962. Do the math and you will find out that they have been making donuts for 58 years—in the donut world that’s like forever. And then—we opened the door.
It was donut heaven. I know that to be true because so many things in the case were “holey.” Get it? Anyway, to my left was a horseshoe shaped counter with almost every stool filled with locals enjoying coffee and pastries. There was a long glass case and a whole wall filled with pastries and donuts. And there to greet us was the best donut salesman in the world. You could tell this guy loved his job and was “in the right seat on the bus.” Judy and I use that phrase to describe someone who is doing what they were meant to do. This guy was meant to work at Ralph’s. The first thing my eye spotted was the royalty of pastries—the fried apple fritter. It was massive, fried crispy, covered with glaze with the middle stuffed with apple filling. One please.
Then the sales guy told us the fritter was their best seller until the butter twist came along. It was a fried donut but the twist was they brushed it with butter before cooking. He said it was voted the number one donut in the entire state of Tennessee. I’m sure he was telling the truth. Two please. Judy wanted something chocolate. No problem—a butter twist with chocolate frosting should do the trick. One please. Then I asked about this chocolate creation on the top shelf. It was a devil’s food mix and saturated with chocolate. He said it was diabetes on a plate and should come with a shot of insulin. We passed on that one. His final gift was a spice bar that was broken in two, so it was free. He said it was as if Little Debbie married gingerbread and had a baby. I loved it.
Judy and I had read that they closed at 11:30 so we assumed 11:30 am but we asked anyway. Oh no…they have three shifts of bakers and are open from 5:00 am till 11:30 pm. Now who has ever heard of a donut shop staying open that long—and they are doing quite well, thank you. Oh, and did I mention that they are listed in the top 20 donut bakeries in the entire United States? Oh, yes…it was donut heaven and it was “holey” ground.
Well, there is one thing that was obvious at Ralph’s—they were all in. They knew their product, they believed in their product and they wanted to share their product. Even if you didn’t like donuts, you wanted to buy one by the time you left. You wanted what they had because it had to be worth having. I have a feeling that we as Jesus followers should take a lesson from Ralph’s. We know we have the best thing in all of creation to offer those in our world—the good news of Jesus Christ. Donuts may be “holey” but Jesus can make us holy—holy enough to call God, Father—holy enough to go to heaven. And Ralph’s may have been making donuts for 58 years but God has been loving us since before the foundation of the world. He wants to walk with us through this New Year and every year. He is a beyond amazing God.
Since He is so incredible—if we love Him, if we believe in Him—we should be all in too. We should live like we believe and share the Word about Him like we believe it. I left Ralph’s wanting to tell people about this amazing place. I think we need to get up every morning wanting to tell everyone the great Good News. On this first day of this great New Year let’s figuratively get behind the counter—not to sell donuts but to share the Good News. And what is that? It is that God, Creator God, so loved this world that gave His Son to a Roman cross that anyone who believes in Him and what He did—can have everlasting life. And that is the best news ever. Oh and then there is more. No matter what today or this year sends our way, we have the assurance that He’s got this.