I am currently at the Pre-General Conference 2012 News Briefing in Tampa, Florida. To hear the myriad voices of our denomination is an arduous task but an exciting one. We are one of the most diverse faith groups on the planet. This is a strength, not a liability. It has been great to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We’re in this process of holy conferencing together as we prepare for “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” that we call General Conference. There are and will be disagreements but I pray that we will not be disagreeable. After all, we have a lot more in common than we dare admit.
For instance, studies of human DNA suggest that we have common origins. Some say we all came from an “Eve” source in Africa that migrated some 10,000 fold into Europe’s hinterlands and intermarried with other hominid life forms. Others say that we have a common ancestor of unknown origin but share Neanderthal attributes. Either way, the similarity in our DNA doesn’t diminish our individual uniqueness.
God loves diversity. Look at the myriad colors of birds, the duck-billed platypus, and the multitude of human personality and biological differences for evidence. An old Russian proverb says it well, “If I try to be like someone else, who will be like me?” We need to treasure our uniqueness, even those aspects of uniqueness that don’t always fit in. I saw this illustrated in a cartoon that showed the foreman of a jury at the door of the jury room giving the lunch order to the bailiff. You know the jury is in for a long time when you hear the order: “Eleven cheeseburgers and one hot dog. Eleven coffees and one hot chocolate. Eleven fruit pies and one bagel.” As much as we share in common, we all have different tastes.
A waitress was taking orders from a couple and their young son. She was one of the class of veteran waitresses who never show outright disrespect to their customers, but who frequently make it quite evident by their level stare that they fear no mortal, not even parents. She jotted on her order pad deliberately and silently as the father and mother gave their selections, down to what was to be substituted for what and which dressing changed to what sauce. When she finally turned to the boy, he began his order with a kind of fearful desperation.
“I want a hot dog…” he started to say. And both parents barked at once. “No hot dog!” Then the mother continued, “Bring him the lyonnaise potatoes and the beef, both vegetables, and a hard roll and…” The waitress wasn’t even listening to the mother. She said directly to the youngster, “What do you want on your hot dog?” He flashed an amazed smile. “Ketchup, lots of ketchup, and – and bring a glass of milk.”
“Coming up,” she said as she turned from the table, leaving behind her the stunned silence of utter parental dismay. The boy watched her go before he turned to his father and mother with astonished elation to say, “You know what? She thinks I’m real! She thinks I’m real!”
God feels the same way about each of us. None of us are overlooked or ignored. Each one of us is that special and unique to God. What a comfort to know that we are real to God! That is an epiphany that you might need to hear today. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. You’re special!