Corned Beef on Rye

I returned to Indy this morning from Newark and it was a beautiful day to fly. Clear skies and miles of visibility on a rather small plane that seats fifty. I kind of like the smaller jets – a little cozy and a real sense of freedom when you fly them. I kept thinking about what I would write about today, but I know that God never seems to give me advance notice about the topic. So, in an odd sort of way, I have learned to rest in that knowledge and figure that when I am supposed to write, the words will be there. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

When I arrived in Indy, I picked up my car and left the airport, heading to a first meeting with a prospective client. We had decided to meet at Shapiro’s, a Jewish deli that has been in business since 1905. It’s a true Indianapolis institution, located at Meridian and McCarty Streets just south of downtown; and it has been in the same place since it opened 106 years ago. I remembered the first day I worked in Indy, back in the fall of 1982, when I was invited to lunch at this very restaurant.

I don’t think I have been back since. Don’t get me wrong – the food was great, but I hardly ever get downtown, so I never think about going there. The Shapiro family has opened another deli or two since we moved here, and I have occasionally been to both of them, but this shop is the mother ship. I even remember what I ordered – corned beef on rye with yellow mustard and a pickle. I don’t like rye bread – never have – but if you are visiting a landmark deli, you just have to order the house speciality. Today I ordered a reuben sandwich – of course, it came with a pickle, on rye…..

But back to the story. You may think it is strange that I remember so much about my first business meal in Indy, almost 29 years ago. That’s because something happened at lunch that I will never forget – it was the day of the Tylenol scare. Remember? For those of you who weren’t around then, drug stores in north suburban Chicago were unknowingly selling boxes of Tylenol that had been tampered with, and quite a few people died. Since Janet and our three small children were still back home, living near near the site of the first fatalities, all I could think about was how to contact Janet to make sure she was alright; and to warn her not to take any pills! To this day I remember the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when that news flash interrupted regular programming on the TV in Shapiro’s. For an instant, I re-lived it today.

And as today’s business meeting continued, I was drawn to the different twists and turns my life has taken since my last meal there. Ultimately, with a few detours, it’s been good – no, great! But if anyone had told me back then that I would drop out of the corporate world and attend seminary, I would have said they were nuts. And I was a pretty selfish, driven, ambitious, corporate guy back then. Some people may still have that impression, but I like to think that I have changed as a result of my life with Christ. I still struggle at times with people who have not spent time with me in years, as old perceptions are slow to change. And I can understand how difficult it is to believe that someone, at their core, can change. But with Christ, all things are possible.

And the passage that I recalled is Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Well, the Lord has honored His promise with me. All of the things in those two verses have come true in my life.  My encouragement today is that you will allow God to work his plan for you; to give you HOPE and a future.  Because if you earnestly seek Him, you will not be disappointed. That’s a promise you can bet your eternal future on!

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