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The Microwaved Hamburger

On Sunday, Pastor Chris spoke to us about spiritual roadblocks. We might start strong, but somewhere along the line we hit a detour. Mine happened in an unexpected place: Bible college. I started Bible college with high hopes of becoming a pastor, evangelist, or a Christian college professor. I ended Bible college disappointed, disillusioned, and confused about my faith. The joy was gone, and I was just going through the motions. Four years later, in 1982, I stumbled into my mother-in-law’s kitchen and there sat Roy Hession, author of the Christian classic Calvary Road. It was supper time and we were both guests, but he was more of a guest than I. “Can you microwave a hamburger?” I asked. This was back in the day when “radar ranges” were a new thing. But Roy Hession didn’t know if you could microwave a hamburger. I didn’t know either, but we decided to give it a try. A few minutes later we were both eating microwaved hamburgers, just him and I. I looked him over and decided to ask him a question. “What do you spend your time doing?” I asked him. I already knew the answer, but I wanted to see what he would say. When he told me he had been a preacher of the gospel for 35 years, he said it in the way I used to tell clients that I’d been writing resumes since 1983. He said it the way I’d tell somebody about a trophy I had won. He said it matter-of-factly. He said it between bites. But he seemed pleased with the accomplishment. “You enjoy that?” I asked. I asked him because I didn’t know. I asked him because years earlier I had set out to become just that—a preacher of the gospel. But, somewhere along the line, I got sidetracked. I got derailed. Somewhere along the line I stopped enjoying church and the things that go with it. I went to church because I had to; God commanded it and I didn’t have a choice. I went every week. I sat through every service—Sunday after Sunday of boring ritual that had no relevance to my life. We sang those stale songs from the song book. As we did, I looked around and I realized it was true—everybody else was as bored as I was. The faces were the faces of the dead. They had died to church. They had died to church music. Just like me. I listened every Sunday to a sermon that seemed to excite one man—the person giving it. Meanwhile, the clock ticked on, and, if there was prayer, we were praying for noon to come. I asked Roy Hession if he enjoyed being a preacher of the gospel. Did he like it? And what was it all about? I wanted to ask. Was he building a kingdom—a kingdom of dead churches filled with dead people singing dead songs all waiting and praying for the clock to strike twelve? The preacher put down his fork. He looked up at me and his voice softened. “Yes,” he said, “I enjoy it very much.” I don’t suppose I’ll ever be able to explain to you what it was that I heard in Roy Hession’s voice that evening as we paused for a moment over our microwaved hamburgers. I doubt he knew I was hearing it. And I don’t know how I knew it, but I knew. My search to find something meaningful inside a church was over. I had found Christ. I had found Him inside a man. You never know what God might use to shake you loose from those seasons of spiritual doldrums that nearly all of us fall into at one point or another. But you can be sure that God is right here with you, ready, willing, and able. Open the door; let Him in.

Dwight Clough

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