The first full day back from Myanmar included pancakes at the Waffleshop. After a week of rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner, pancakes at the Waffleshop were simply sublime. Don’t get me wrong. I like rice. I like Rice Krispees…especially when they are covered with chocolate and coated together with peanut-butter — Lynn’s recipe. I like Rice Mush, it’s a Norwegian dessert, add a lot of cream and sugar, whip it up and then cover with strawberries. I like fried rice with chicken at Cozy Thai.
But try steamed white rice — I think they call it sticky rice — for breakfast, lunch and supper for a week. Perhaps once a day add a curry of vegetables to the rice, perhaps once or twice a week add a curry of meat to the rice. The other 17 meals are just sticky rice. If you do it for a week, congratulations, now try it for a year.
In one of my messages at the Bible Conference in Myanmar I made the comment, “I know you all love rice but…” My comment received an immediate chorus of “NOOOOO.” I hadn’t thought much about it. I guess in my American mind I thought, “If they eat it so much they must like it.”
We were having a conversation at lunch one day with one of the orphanage leaders, Ruth. Ruth is a well spoken, intelligent, thoughtful young woman. She was talking about the differences between America — she had been here for the first time last year — and Myanmar. The word she used that stuck in my mind was “OPTIONS.” The difference is that in America you have options. You have options for school, for entertainment, for leisure, for work, for friends, for where you live, and for food. We don’t have many options.
But they still have choices. The people we work with — for the most part — nobodies perfect — have chosen to respond to their options with a joyful heart, faith in God, and the believe that like Paul they can say, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
You know what? I don’t think the desire for options is a bad thing. I don’t think the desire to move into the house of your dreams after retirement is a bad thing. I don’t think the desire to eat fine food is a bad thing. But what if at least some of our desires for good things, that bring pleasure were meant to be satisfied — or gained — after we die? In heaven. What if trying to satisfy all those desires now, made it difficult to live for Christ — which might mean that we gain less when we die?
If that were true, would we be willing to eat rice now?