Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Barbecue Sandwiches...

I'm a fan, let me just say that. I'm a huge fan of barbecue, or bbq, or bar-b-q, or however you want to say it. Pork or beef, I'm really not picky. I've even been known to smoke a mean venison ham or pork shoulder myself. It's one of those things that I just cannot get enough of, and if I go to a catered meal and barbecue is on the menu, I am never disappointed. Well, okay, one time I was disappointed...but it was just bad.

As many barbecue joints as I have stopped at over the years, I was not prepared for the life lesson I would get yesterday from a barbecue sandwich. I met an old friend yesterday, and we spent the day hanging out and talking about theology, our familes, work, and life in general. At some point during the day we ran into some friends of his, and an impromptu lunch meeting with great table talk and much hilarity ensued. Oh wait, that was the second time we stopped at this place yesterday. This first time it was just me and my guide.

Names and places are being left out to protect the unaware, but let's just say that this was not the kind of place I would have found myself stopping had I been by myself. In fact, neither of the places I was introduced to yesterday were places I would have stopped by myself.

We rolled into town and my friend asked me, "Have you ever eaten here?" I was thinking to myself, "Where? There's a restaurant here? Hmm, doesn't show." But, my internal filter kicked in (internal filters and some folks' inability to engage them is another blog for another day) and I said, "Nope, but I'm game." So we pulled in.

Now, I'm a fan of mom and pop, let me just say that. When Steph and I get to slip off for a few days we try hard not to stop at chain restaurants, but honestly, walking in yesterday, I thought to myself, "What in the hell am I doing here?" Still, I trusted my culinary guide, my own personal Andrew Zimmern, and we bellied up to the counter.

We kept it simple, a barbecue sandwich and a diet coke for both of us. I mean, we were both watching our waistlines so we couldn't order regular cokes, right? When the waitress brought our sandwiches out, I thought, "Toast? Who in their right mind puts barbecue on toast?" But I'm still game, and keeping an open mind I reached for the house sauce and began the pour. Wait, barbecue sauce is not supposed to be orange, and barbecue sandwiches are not supposed to be on toast. That's just wrong! Still, I trusted my guide.

The moment I bit into that sandwich everything changed, and my first impression of the place left me embarrassed and ashamed. It was quite possibly, one of the best barbecue sandwiches I have ever eaten. Everything worked. It was all different, but it worked. In fact, it worked so well that within 2 hours we were driving back into that town for round 2. Yeah, it was that good.

"Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged,and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

Thank God we don't do that in the church. You know, judge someone on first impressions alone. Can you imagine what Jesus would think if we judged people based on what they looked like, how they dressed, or any other surface appearance? Thank God we don't.

A barbecue sandwich. How about that? God just reminded me again that even I'm not above being a little judgmental every now and then. Lord, forgive me.


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