McElroy

"My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work." - John 4:34

Sometimes I look at the deals of the day on the McDonald’s app. One day last week, they offered “Buy one Happy Meal, Get One Free.” That brought back some memories. When our girls were little, the order was, "Two hamburger Happy meals, ketchup only, with Sprite." Later with our son, the drive-through mantra changed to, "Hamburger Happy Meal, ketchup only with Diet Coke."

I know some food police types will be disappointed in me as a parent. But Happy Meals weren’t their regular fare, the little toys were fun to collect and it made them happy. I rest my case.

McDonald's did not become a worldwide fast food giant by serving gourmet dishes or health food. They serve familiar, consistent, comfortable food that some adults I know turn to as well from time to time.

Your favorite meal of choice has probably changed since you were a kid. But you can probably think of something right now that is especially satisfying, that makes you happy when you eat it, even if it doesn't come with a cheap toy.

After the Samaritan woman left the well-side interview with Jesus, the disciples returned with food and encouraged him to eat. Jesus told them he had food they didn't know about. They presumed that someone else (but who in the middle of Samaria?) had brought him a meal. While the woman went to get the neighbors and bring them to Jesus, the Lord told his little band of followers, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work." Jesus wasn't talking about literal food. He was talking about the fulfillment and satisfaction he got from doing God's will.

As followers of Jesus, we believe what he said is true. We’d be insulted if a friend suggested we did not believe what Jesus said. But do we believe his words about this subject? If we really believe Jesus is right about finding satisfaction in doing God's will, why are we so insistent on getting our way? Do we settle for cheap and unsatisfying spiritual food when we push for our will to be done? Does desire drive our behavior, even if it is desire contrary to God's will for us?

Jesus said there was satisfaction in submission. We become fruitful branches in Christ the vine when we abide in him and his words abide in us. Do we believe that? Does our behavior show that we believe he is right?

How often do we look outside ourselves to find some cause for our unhappiness? Why do we think the biggest obstacles to our satisfaction and happiness lie in others who disappoint us or won't do what we want them to do? Perhaps the biggest challenger to our happiness, our joy and our spiritual well-being lies within us. Maybe that's why the first line of the plan to become a disciple is, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). It's probably related to this concept from the next verse as well: "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (Luke 9:24).

Those hot fresh french fries under the Golden Arches smell so good! We may know that there's very little, if anything, good for us in that treat. It's been a long time since I've had a French fry. But when it's Free Fries Friday on the McDonald's app, something old and deep inside me finds the idea appealing regardless of what I know. Maybe our inclination to want our way is like that. We "know" God's will is better for us than our will, but sometimes the enemy within is attracted by the slogan for another burger place. We like the sound of "Have It Your Way," even when we know better.

When the Spirit of God controls us more than our flesh, we will not be so inclined to gratify our selfish desires in pursuit of happiness. Then David's "menu advice" can be our reality: "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). That, my friend, is the real deal Happy Meal.