From my son Charlie…
I know it is a subject widely debated among Memphians. I also know that any possibility of arrival at a definite consensus in the matter is near impossible. However, today, I stand proudly at my desk, as I write this, and proclaim boldly that Highpoint Pizza is, hands down, absolutely the best pizza in the Mid South.
Alright. Maybe I’m biased, or inexperienced, or loyal to my own neighborhood, (I live across the street from Highpoint Pizza). Maybe this is a waste of blog space. Maybe you think differently. That’s okay- thank God we live in a country where we get the freedom to enjoy our choices in pizza.
Last night, around 6:45, the tornado siren’s wailed in Highpoint Terrace. Both of my parents called to make sure Bekah and I had a safe place to go in case a tornado headed our way. I cleared out the bottom half of the coat closet in our little apartment so the two of us, and Lily our dog, could awkwardly squeeze in and avoid getting blown away if worse came to worse. Then, I grabbed an umbrella, put on my boots, and set out across the street to our little pizza Mecca.
Pepperoni, black olives and peppercinis. We had about an hour to eat before people started showing up for our Thursday night Bible study, and ironically enough, about an hour left in the tornado watch. I, as a Christian man responsible for my household in the light of possible impending, tornadic disaster, was not about to let the Shaw house go hungry out of fear. God had provided the money to eat Highpoint, and letting that go because of a twister was not an option. I was taught better.
So, I forged the storm, endured the wind and the rain, and safely arrived at my destination a long 50 yards from my front door. When I stepped inside, everything changed.
The warm, yellow light poured peacefully, and hopefully onto my face as laughter from lighthearted patrons tickled my ears. The chef was smiling ear to ear as he swapped stories, over the counter, with one of his friends nursing a beer he happily paid way too much for. To my right, a young couple, locked in each other’s gaze, ate pepperoni while medium tempo classic rock added a little edge to the flowering ambience, intermingled with the low murmur of yesterday’s game playing on the plasma TV.
So, what’s my point? I promise it’s coming, hang with me.
While I was standing in line to pick up my pizza, a guy who looked about 19 or 20 years old came barging into the door. He was wet, slightly out of breath, disheveled and wild eyed. The glaze of atmospheric contentment on the face of the girl working the counter quickly melted to a mild, questioning, awe and curiosity towards the character invading our little pizza party.
“There’s a tornado warning!” He blurbed.
“You should probably turn on the news!” The words came reluctantly, then faded, quickly, between breaths as he took note of his surroundings.
The warm, peacefulness of the room remained unaltered. His frantic reminder of the unknown dangers outside were discredited by his inability to fit into the exclusive, and carefully crafted, vibe of his surroundings. The warning he provided echoed once, and quickly slipped from memory as the sirens howled just outside the huge storefront window.
“. . .Ok. . .”, the girl at the counter mumbled in frustration as she passed back into her semi-hypnotic, state of contentment.
The game continued. The classic rock continued. The overpriced beer nursing continued. The playful romancing continued. The wild-eyed messenger, defeated and corrected, reset his demeanor in a failed attempt to fit in with the rest of the room.
Later, when I got back home, the storm died down, along with the threat of impending doom. As Bekah and I ate the greatest pizza in the universe, I thought about what had happened.
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins. The parable reminds us that we do not know when Jesus, our bridegroom, will return, and that we are to be watchful, and prepare for his coming.
In 2 Timothy 4, Paul charges Timothy, his disciple, to preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Friends, we live in trying times. Temporal matters and institutions compete for our passions. False teachers of the world lure us away from the truth and lead us into myths. Like the unprepared virgins of Jesus’ parable, we can often be found drowsy, and unready to usher in the return, and working our bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
I am grateful that the tornados stayed far away from Highpoint Terrace, however, last night at the pizza place, there was no way of knowing it would be like that. Ask anyone from Oklahoma, North Texas, or Kansas, and they could probably tell you story after story exemplifying the importance of Tornado sirens, and how we should absolutely heed their warning.
Let us not be like the girl at the counter and retreat into dreamy malaise in the face of the storm warning. God has equipped us with the power of the Holy Spirit, and the authority of his Word. We live in a world seduced, enthralled, and chained to sin. Sleepy, oblivious, ignoring of the proverbial sirens is not an option for us.
I also don’t mean we should be like the guy who barged into the restaurant. We should not be disconnected, oblivious, wild-eyed alarm sounders.
Like Paul urges Timothy, we should be aware of the times we live in, and endure the suffering that comes with it. In a sober-minded way, let us diligently work for the making of disciples, preparing for Christ’s return.
One of my favorite things about the Gospel is that we are made able to do these things Paul talks about. At the same time, we don’t need to live like medieval monks, and are free to enjoy the good things God has given us and blessed the world with.
So, my friends, if you’ve made it all of the way through this lengthy blog post, cut yourself a break and head down to Highpoint Pizza, I promise it’s great. Just remember to watch out for tornadoes.