I remember the day as a child walking through the big bread factory, seeing the machines and ovens punching out the delicacies of a happy childhood. The overwhelming smells enveloping the small groups of children on their field trip that day in East Los Angeles. The pinnacle of the experience was each of us being given a fresh, hot piece of Wonder bread to savor. Yes. It was the Hostess/Wonder Bread factory. You remember Wonder bread, the bread that “helps bodies grow 12 ways.” That was many years, and many memories ago, and the Hostess/Wonder Bread brand has been a part of my life all along the way. Hohos, SnoBalls, Zingers, Ding-Dongs, Donettes, Hostess cupcakes and fruit pies and of course, the iconic Twinkie. In light of the recent decision to close the company, it’s hard to imagine a world without them. Yet, they are so near to our hearts. And so the thought, of a future absent of those heart-warming comfort foods distresses me.
I guess with my fond affection for the past, I am in some ways like the Israelites as they made their way out of Egypt. God had delivered them from the hands of their suppressors, and seen fit to give them sustenance in the form of manna. But this wasn’t good enough for the Israelites; they longed for the days of old.
Numbers 11:4-6 says, “The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat?’ We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”
It wasn’t enough to revel in the freedom of their deliverance; they wanted to return to their “chains of slavery” if only to once again partake of the pleasurable vices of the past. And in the process, they discounted the absolute miracle of the manna as routine.
God had given them a future which entailed a land of their own, a land flowing with milk and Oreos, I mean, honey. It was a promised land far-exceeding any prior benefits which they had experienced, yet they were willing to compromise the future to revisit the past.
How often do we remember the past and long to regain it failing to recall the miserable circumstances we were in at the time? We fail to recognize the incredible blessing that God has placed all around us; we allow the miracle of God’s provision to be counted as commonplace.
One may shudder at the thought of a world without Twinkie the Kid, but if Hostess and Wonder Bread go the way of Gemco, Studebaker, Helm’s Bakery or the real metal Radio Flyer wagons, then so be it. God has our eyes on the front our faces for a reason, so we can see what is in front of us. The blessings of the future far outweigh the experiences of the past. The glory days are forthcoming but we will only see them if we are facing forward.
Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8 and 13 are sound. “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
May you keep your eyes on the goal, and your hearts turned to God and your focus on knowing Christ this time of year and always.