An evening with friends at The Cheesecake Factory in Birmingham, Alabama is a fine way to spend a Friday night. I was there with my oldest son, Isaac as part of the Alabama All-State Choir Festival. Founded in 1978 in Beverly Hills, California, the chain is now present in 34 states and boasts annual revenues of over a billion dollars. According to one report they are noted for their “large portions” and obviously, for their many varieties of cheesecake.
I enjoyed my evening with friends, old and new, but also learned a few lessons along the way. Here they are in no particular order:
What looks good is not always good for you
I enjoyed an appetizer of fried calamari, spicy cashew chicken and key lime cheesecake. Everything looked perfect. But let’s think about. I sure don’t need fried food. Tasted good but not terribly healthy. The cashew chicken was on a bed of white rice and covered with a sauce that seemed well salted. The cheesecake was presented beautifully, calories and all. Everything looked perfect.
Sometimes life is the same way. Things look good until after you’ve consumed them. Relationships that looked so good can turn sour so quickly. A new job that seems heaven sent may look more like a demonic gift after you start. I could have used better judgment with my meal but I let my eyes decide, not my brain.
There is a spiritual lesson here too. Satan is an expert at dressing up sin. The Bible even says that he is
It may be small but it really packs a punch.
I looked on the Cheesecake Factory website this morning. I did not see a calorie chart. Maybe I missed it but dieting is not the purpose of the Factory. The cheesecake serving was large for desert but still not massive. But I had to wonder how many calories were in that sliver of Key Lime Cheesecake? Small but it packed a punch I am sure.
This lesson cuts both ways. A seemingly small sin still packs a punch. As the prophet said, “your sins have hidden his face from you” (Isaiah 59:2). “Lesser sins” are grouped with “greater sins” in Galatians 5:19-21. In truth, sin is sin and knows no lesser or greater sin.
It’s also true that great things come in small packages. Our Lord himself came from the tiny Bethlehem and never lived inside the walls of a great city. He contrasted the lowly tax collector of Luke 18:13 with the powerful Pharisee. Later Jesus would highlight the dedication and righteousness of a poor woman who gave all she had, a tiny 2 mites, to the Lord (Mark 12:42). We need not be famous, well known preachers to make a difference. All of our service helps.
Waiting is worthwhile.
When I arrived at the Cheesecake Factory I knew what I was having for desert. As I walked in I passed by a large display of their cheesecakes which just seemed to be calling my name. As I sat at the table and perused the menu I was still thinking of cheesecake.
Finally, after the calamari and cashew chicken were done, I ordered. key lime cheesecake was my choice. The lady next to me opted for red velvet cheesecake. While we waited we talked about how good it would be. By the time it arrived we had decided to split our orders so we could sample bit the key lime and the red velvet.
My first bite confirmed that it was worth the wait!
For Christians, the end is the very best part. Although the Christian life is far superior to any other, the best is yet to come! Near the end of his life Paul looked ahead to his reward. This man, who once described himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), knew the best was yet to come (2 Timothy 4:7-8). A place where nothing defiles and where God wipes away every tear is certainly worth waiting for (Revelation 21:3-4; Revelation 21:27).
You probably never thought there were great spiritual lessons at The Cheesecake Factory. What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on the blog.
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