A few years ago Ashley and I went to Hawaii with her family. Her sister lives in Australia so Hawaii is actually pretty close to halfway between here and there. We stayed in an amazing hotel called the Turtle Bay Resort. It was beautiful. Our rooms overlooked the ocean, you could surf or paddleboard right outside of the lobby, and there were tons of other things to do and visit right outside of the gate. When we woke up the first morning we had one mission; food. I am the type of person to just jump in the car and start driving. But Ashley’s mom is the type to ask a few questions. She went to the concierge and asked simply, “Where do I want to go for breakfast.” That’s the type of question I ask Siri as I wander aimlessly getting frustrated with myself for not already knowing where I want to go and with Siri for not being an actual person who knows the answer to life’s deepest questions.
The concierge offered two suggestions. He told us that if we took a left out of the parking lot we would come to an excellent restaurant that was used in the filming of many movies, has exquisite cuisine, and an incredible dining experience. To the right, we’d find Ted’s bakery, a place where locals go to grab a quick breakfast before hitting the surf. I thought certainly the vote would be for the fancy spot. I mean we were in Hawaii, staying at a beachfront resort, why would we go to the hole in the wall for breakfast. In a slightly shocking turn of events, we all decided to go to Ted’s that day and try the other place the next day.
To this day, I have no idea what the other place was even called. We never went. Yes, Ted’s was that good. We had omelets, coffee, and pastries that were just fantastic. We went there every morning and once in the evening to get pie after dinner. Looking back it reinforced something that I try to cling to, it doesn’t matter what the outside looks like as much as what you are producing.
In Matthew 15 some Pharisees challenge Jesus and his disciples asking why they “defile their bodies” by not participating in the ceremonial hand washing before they eat. Jesus’ response is one that convicts me often. In Matthew 15:11 Jesus says, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you, you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” He goes on to say that it is out of our own damaged hearts that sin comes into our lives. The truth is we can was our hands, put on fine clothes, and pray loudly in the streets, but if our hearts aren’t pure and right with God, these things don’t matter. They are just noise that wee are hiding our true selves behind. Ceremony should always remain an outward expression of an inner heart condition. It doesn’t work the other way around. Let’s use our lives to produce the kind of fruit that comes from a pure heart that is completely surrendered to God.