“Really?” I responded in starving amazement.
“Yes. It is true. We are out of beans, but if you wait about 45 minutes, we’ll have some.”
I exited through the side door, my stomach continuing to churn and my head spinning. How could Taco Bell run out of beans?
Alone in my car with Siri, I checked for another Taco Bell. “Seventy-five miles behind you,” she said kindly.
What made the experience even more frustrating was that a few days earlier, with my entire body overheated from driving in the desert without air conditioning, an A&W sign showing an iceberg of vanilla ice cream floating in a mug of root beer lured me to stop. “Perfect.” I yielded.
An employee took my order, with assistance from the manager on duty. Five minutes later I returned to the counter and inquired about my root beer float.
“Sorry,” the employee said. “We’re out of root beer. But if you wait about an hour, we’re making some more.”
My stomach sounded like a starving 3-year-old begging Mom for a treat, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to walk out without something.
“What other soft drinks do you have?”
I ordered a float with lots of vanilla ice cream.
Too many minutes later, after watching him push and pull every button and lever on the ice cream machine, I asked if he was out of vanilla.
“Yes, we have no vanilla,” he smiled, hoping I would go away.
I settled for strawberry ice cream with a few squirts of something carbonated.
“Enjoy!” he encouraged.
It was cold, and that was good.
All the way home I thought about “Bad Advertising.” About a Taco Bell without beans. About an A&W without root beer. About churches without love. About church boards without compassion. About potlucks without friendship. About Christians without joy.
Seventh-day Adventists have many marketing slogans, some which we post on our roadside signs:
- “We forgive, as Christ has forgiven us.”
- “Growing Christians who reflect Christ.”
- “Friends overflowing with God’s love.”
- “Where compassion makes us one.”
How many people, I wonder, walk away from our worship with their hearts still aching for the grace we promise?
Taco Bell rules require the manager to check the beans every few minutes to be sure they’re hot and ready and that there are enough for a whole busload of starving teens.
A&W rules require the cooler always has gallons of ice-cold root beer.
However, rules do not get the job done in fast-food restaurants or in churches. Follow-through requires people who are personally dedicated to the “mission.” Believers whose hearts and lives clearly represent the values. Front-line workers who proudly wear the clothing of compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience. Participants who assure that the team honestly delivers on the advertising.
“Yes, we have no frijoles. However, we do have more than enough love to calm your soul.”