On the other hand, sometimes you cannot have gravy. When you grill a steak, there is no gravy. When you smoke a chicken quarter, there is no gravy, and if somehow you did catch the drippings, you wouldn’t want them. Believe me, I tried it once. Smoked drippings simply taste bitter. Oh, you can always fake it with butter, flour, and canned broth, but any gravy connoisseur will know the difference. You only get really good gravy with fresh meat drippings, flour sizzled in the pan, and some kind of liquid.
Yet, if your life depended upon it, you would choose the meat over the gravy any time. You would know that the only real nutritional value, the only real protein, is in the meat and not the gravy. If you tried to live on nothing but gravy alone, you would soon starve. You might be round as a beach ball, but you would still starve.
Too many times we give up the meat for the gravy. We give up marriages and families for the sake of career and money. We give up a spiritual family that will help us no matter what for fair weather friends who won’t. We even give up our souls for the sake of good times, status, and convenience.
Then there are the times when it seems like life makes no gravy. So we give up God because he dared to allow something less than ease, comfort, and fun into our lives. Can’t have the gravy too? Then I don’t want you, Lord. You’re going to give up a grilled rib eye because it doesn’t come with gravy? Really?
I doubt we realize exactly what we are doing. The problem is that we have things reversed. We think this life is the meat, and the next is just the gravy. That is what we are saying when we give up on God because things didn’t turn out so well here. Justin Martyr, a philosopher who was converted to Christianity in the early half of the second century wrote, “Since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men put us to death. Death is a debt we must all pay anyway” First Apology, chapter 11.
Can we say that, or are we too addicted to our pleasure loving, wealthy culture? The first Christians converted with the knowledge that they would probably lose everything they owned and die within a matter of weeks, if not days. And us? We are out there looking for the gravy and blaming God for his scanty menu.
The fact is we do have some gravy promised in this life. We just look for it in the wrong places. Then Peter said in reply, "See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?" Jesus said to them …everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. Matt 19:27,29. Are you still looking to the world for your gravy? Jesus plainly says the place to look is in your spiritual family. When it works as he intended--even if it only comes close—it is far better than anything the world will ever offer you.
So remember where to find your spiritual sustenance. Remember where to go when times are rough and you need a hand. And even those things are not the meat. The meat is eternal life with a Creator who loved you enough to die.
Everything else is just gravy.
…train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come, 1 Tim 4:7,8.