Life is a Banquet
By Gary Amirault
There are few things in life we end up remembering vividly from our past. These words "Life is a banquet" have stuck with me for over 20 years.
At one of the sales companies I worked for not too long after graduating from college, they showed a motivational film starring Bob Richards, the Olympic Champion. I remember Bob sharing about a man he once heard speaking at a sales convention. The man spoke lying down on a stretcher. I remember Bob imitating how this crippled man spoke. It seemed that it took great effort for this man to just be able to open his mouth. He spent his entire life on a bed.
He told these able-bodied sales people, "Life is a banquet, partake of it!" He then proceeded to tell them that everything he had ever wanted to do in life, he was able to accomplish including writing books. I don't remember anything else about the whole film, but those words, "Life is a banquet, partake of it."
At the present time, I speak to many people from all over the world, many who know the Lord and many who don't. Most that I know are financially in better condition than I am and generally have more or newer material goods than I do. Yet so many are not happy.
Have you ever noticed how quickly a joyous mood can be robbed by one unkind word, or act, or sometimes even a thought about something disturbing from the past or a concern about something in the future? A single word, one image in our mind and wham, depression, anger, fear, hate, or resentment move in and rob us of our peace and joy. How easily the peaceful sea of our mind becomes a raging storm.
How we in America bring ourselves into these hurricanes of thought is even more incredible. Let me use my life as an example to illustrate the point I am trying to make. Most of you will be able to relate to what I am saying.
I wake up lying on a king size bed with all the blankets needed to make myself absolutely comfortable. What is absolutely incredible is that I can control my environment to the exact temperature I want. A turn of a dial and I can have 68 degrees Fahrenheit or 80 degrees. The most royal Queen in the world a few decades past could not have had this pleasure. I, as a poor man in America have everyday living conditions which royalty in centuries past would envy. I go to the bathroom and I don't have to step outside in the cold and sit on a stinky, bug-ridden seat in an outhouse. The pull of a lever causes many inconveniences to just flow away. While on my throne, I have newsletters, books, magazines to read to my heart's content. What is so wonderful about that, you may ask? There was a time when a person of my social stature was not worthy of receiving an education. There was a time when one could only read what the church said one could read. The largest church in the world still has censors telling their people what is acceptable reading. This church killed many people who wrote things unacceptable to it and burned many who decided to read some of this stuff. I am so grateful to be able to read what I want and to be able to write most of what I care to write. It is a privilege we too often take for granted.
Not only can I read what I want to, I can get just about anything I want to read for free! Almost every city in America has free public libraries. Christian, we must study some early history to truly appreciate this wonderful blessing! A flick of a switch and I have light to read by. Another flick and I can increase its brightness. Christian, go back a thousand years, ask the richest King in the world what he would give for the gifts I just described. He would, no doubt give up most of his kingdom for these things. But I haven't even begun to list the things we so easily take for granted. The poorest of us is able to go to the refrigerator and take out an orange, or a strawberry or a glass of milk. What is so remarkable about that you might ask? This incredible box called the fridge opens the door to all kinds of foods available any time you want them. Not long ago room temperature and hot were your choices. Today one can drink a cold glass of milk in 100 degree temperature. And speaking of oranges, most kings of the past never saw an orange let alone ate one. A banana grown several thousand miles away can be shipped to your doorstep at a price a poor person can afford. People, these are the kind of things only the richest of people in the world used to be able to do. Many of the things we are able to do or get everyday are things the richest, wisest, and most powerful of people in ages past could never partake of. "Life is a banquet, indeed!"
A turn of the faucet and all the water at the temperature that suits me. A double-edged razor and foam that makes my shave a breeze. Think about how your shave would feel with a flint or bone knife! One of my greatest joys is Selsun Blue shampoo. No, I don't have stock in the company. I have hair that has to be washed everyday to look decent and I also have a skin condition which makes my scalp flake and get irritated. This stuff really works for me. I am truly grateful for this product. I am really grateful for the toilet paper roll by my throne. Hey, guys, I am not kidding! Some of you are laughing right now, but I am serious. I remember in my early years in Germany using newspaper. My Scott brand toilet paper is a real treat.
My roof doesn't leak. I don't have to ward off dangerous animals all day (Except those wolves eying my beautiful daughter). I have plenty of clothes to cover my nakedness. People, do you know how wonderful a glass pane in the window is? Imagine the conditions without glass.
Now the things I just mentioned are so insignificant in most of our lives, we generally don't think about them. Should I talk about our cars, trains, airplanes, computers, or telephones, then perhaps some of us might get into the range of gratefulness.
I spend much of my time lately studying past civilizations and men and women of religious and political power. Looking at how they lived, I see that a typical American has so much more going for them than any King or Queen, or Pope in centuries gone by. Think about a grand banquet prepared for a king 2000 years in the past. What would be on that table that would make you envious today? Nothing! Look at the shelves at the grocery store full of things brought in from all over the world and you don't have to give up half your kingdom for most of them.
Did you know that in Martin Luther's Germany, a peasant could not go into most forests to kill a rabbit? The Princes, whom Martin Luther supported, owned them all. You, as a citizen of Germany would not be allowed to go to the near stream and catch a fish. It belonged to a Prince. I live on a lake and can eat the fish that I catch and the mayor in town can't take it away from me.
As a poor person (according to our government), I sit at my desk and am able to fax a letter almost anywhere in the world. The telephone can reach the entire world! What would the great military men of ages past have given for such a tool? There was a time not too long ago when messages had to be written and sent by horse or boat often taking months to arrive. Often the message never made it. Prior to that time period, only a friend happening to go in the direction you wanted the message to go to could relay your message.
So what is the point in all of this? Well, remember, I mentioned earlier how a simple word, little act, past memory, etc. can so quickly rob our joy? Picture your mind full of thousands of things for which you are truly grateful. Try walking through the day aware of all your blessings, friends, relatives, freedom, material things.
Look around you and discover the wonderful gifts that you have taken for granted or never appreciated in the first place. See their value. See how blessed you are by comparing yourself to past civilizations which never had the privileges you have. Fill your heart with true gratefulness and when that depressing little word or action comes, it can be quickly drowned out by the wealth all around you. Your mind will be so consumed by the blessedness of the life you have that the sting of these other things will become so insignificant, they will be immediately swallowed up by your joy.
Listen, the other day the UPS driver had me sign for a package with a pen that I really liked. For some unknown reason this pen just felt great in my hand. It also looked great. He gave it to me. He said his wife worked for the company that gave those pens away as advertising. Later, he gave me another one. When I use those pens, I am thankful. They were free, but they are still precious to me. Do you have any idea how precious a piece of writing paper is? Go back a few hundred years and see how many sheep had to be killed to write a book. Most of us couldn't have afforded the luxury of writing. It was too expensive. If you weren't of the right family or sex, you couldn't even attend school.
"Life is a banquet." For most people in the world today, when comparing ourselves with times past, this is a true statement. Only the darkness of our mind can turn it into misery. Ungratefulness and unthankfulness are two fellows that can spoil the party. Cast them out. They do not belong in the Kingdom of His Son. Joy, Joy.