Now, let me explain something about my travel habits. I am lean and mean when it comes to travel. I learned it from my days in Seminary when I would make the long drive from Fort Worth, TX to Macon, GA. There was a lot of ground to cover but I always wanted to do it in record time. I found the quickest way was to wrap everything into one stop. It’s kind of a poor man’s way to imagine he is doing a NASCAR pit stop. Any way, Lisa’s pressing need meant lunch would have to be pushed forward so that we could do an all-in-one stop.
So I put her to work on her phone app looking for a good barbecue place just outside of West Memphis within range of her bladder limits. That’s when she came across “Roadside Barbecue”.
A couple of miles down the road we eased off I-4o and onto a side road. Just past the gas station on the right sat the highly recommended barbecue stand. Stand may be a generous way to describe it.
“Roadside” was a double-wide trailer that sat in a gravel parking lot just off the edge of a country road. The building itself was red, Arkansas Razorback red (which we would later discover was meaningful). There wasn’t a single car in the lot. With a little uncertainty, Lisa followed me inside. The interior walls had lost their white luster long ago and were now filled into every corner with Sharpie notes and signatures from previous guests. I think Lisa half expected to read one that said “RIP” or “final meal.” Behind the counter sat one of the nicest ladies, the proud mother of a former Arkansas Razorback football player. We conversed for a little while as the cook wrapped up our pulled pork sandwiches and our cole slaw. She talked about her son, his scholarship program for kids and their award for some of the best barbecue in the Memphis area. I don’t think either of us were sure about this last part but we smiled, paid our new friend and slipped back out to the truck (of course, Lisa made it to the bathroom).
Then, for the next 15 minutes of our trip, I was reminded of why you never judge a book by its cover, a person by their outward appearance or a restaurant by its colorful siding. We ate good barbecue! The kind that’s made with a lot of pride.
I thought a little bit about how many people drove by this wonderful little secret every day and never gave it a chance. Instead, they chose to look at the uneven gravel lot and the dirty windows and believe that what was on the inside could never be worth their checking it out. And what a reward for those who were willing to go behind the walls, to get to taste the goodness that waited inside.
That thought came back to me last night as I watched a report on TV regarding Mercy Ships, a ministry that two of my great friends are a part of off the west coast of Africa (check them out here). Day after day, they minister to people who have “less-than-appealing” outside appearances, but whose insides contain a treasure for those who are wiling to venture past the rough exteriors.
I bet you know someone like that as well. Maybe someone who doesn’t look good, smell nice, dress well or carry themselves according to the world’s expectations. I bet you know someone who would be worth your willingness to get to know them. Thankfully, God does just that. He looks past the worthless, dirty exteriors that you and I possess and chooses to love what’s on the inside. I think it’s best if we learn to do the same.