Love, Generosity, and Potato Chips

Announcement: MennoMedia has been doing a series of author interviews, and it was my turn to be interviewed this week on “Self-care in a time of COVID-19.” The video is available on the MennoMedia Facebook page.

And now for today’s article. . . .

When I reach for a snack, I’m much more likely to reach for something salty instead of sweet: pretzels instead of cookies when I’m on an airplane (remember the days before COVID-19, when we could fly?), salted almonds instead of honey roasted (just like my husband in that department), plain, lightly salted potato chips even over a square of dark chocolate (although the two run pretty close!).

For me potato chips are a taste of my childhood, when my dad got into the snack food business and started making potato chips and popcorn curls. Freshly made potato chips brought home from “the shop” were always the best, and when we handed out mini-bags of potato chips on Hallowe’en, kids would try to come back for seconds.

I’ve only met Maggie Wallem Rowe online as a member of my writing guild, but after reading her new book, I’ve come to appreciate her sense of humour, warmth, life experience, and practical wisdom. And now l’ll also think of potato chips in a new way, as a reminder of love, generosity, and faith in action.

Here’s why from this excerpt taken from This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others by Maggie Wallem Rowe. Copyright © 2020. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.

The Fragrance of Faith

[Jesus said,] “Let me tell you why you are here.
You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.
If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?
You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.”
– Matthew 5:13, MSG

I sat in a salt cave on Sunday.

No, not the kind that is springing up in day spas1 around the country. I hadn’t even heard of them until a discount offer for “salt cave sessions” popped up in my inbox from a popular group-purchasing site. The tempting pitch ran something like this:

Ageless Day Spa & Salt Cave surrounds patrons with a nourishing antiaging regimen replete with sustentative body regimens and beautify-ing spa treatments. It’s hard to make a case for pro-aging, but what under God’s blue heaven is a “sustentative” body regimen?

Enveloped by the dim light and sea sounds filling the salt cave, beach chairs nestle physiques while patrons savor the pure air. Ah, now they’re reeling me in. Dim light, sea sounds, and pure air reminds me of Cape Cod. But I’ve never met a beach chair yet that nestled my physique.

Crafted from Himalayan salt, the cave infuses the atmosphere with constitution-enhancing minerals, body-balancing ions, and the scent of potato chips in bloom. Never mind the minerals that promise to enhance my maturing constitution. Forget the ions that will balance this sagging body. They had me at the scented potato chips.

But before I hit the “Buy Now” button, I realized I already benefit from salt cave sessions every week.

Each Sunday morning, I perch on a pew, surrounded by people with whom I’m in community. People who enhance the flavor of my life as well as the lives of so many others. People who intentionally engage the culture not only to preserve it but to serve it.

In our post-truth culture, this saltiness is increasingly unacceptable. Polls continue to produce statistics claiming that those without religious affiliation, the “nones,” are the fastest-growing “religious group” today.2 A generation of young adults raised in the church is moving away from its influence, convinced that Christians don’t represent the values most important to them.

The preservative and medicinal properties of salt are well known. But in a culture that increasingly marginalizes the importance of faith, how can we demonstrate a genuine concern for others in the ways Christ intended?

In the Kalahari Desert region of southern Africa, residents use salt in a unique way to locate water. “Monkeys in this desert region always know where to find water, but they are very careful not to show humans its location. People will trap a monkey and feed it salt until it is extremely thirsty. When released, the monkey runs straight to the water source, unaware it is being followed.”3 As followers of Christ, our challenge is to make others thirsty for the living water that is Jesus.4

Just as our bodies require sodium chloride to sustain life, we need the body of Christ. When Jesus told his followers, “You are the salt of the earth,”5 he meant it. It’s time for us to stop focusing so much of our energies on peripheral stuff and instead live in such love and generosity of spirit that others become thirsty for that which spiritually hydrates us.

The taste and fragrance of faith. It’s a little like potato chips in bloom.

Points of Connection

  1. As a substance, salt may seem homogenous, but sodium chloride is formulated in dozens of varieties. Browse the aisles of a specialty store, and you’ll find rose-colored salt mined in the Himalayas, charcoal flakes from the Mediterranean region, and black Hiwa Kai or red Alaea from the Hawaiian Islands. How might the diverse nature of salt encourage you to live out Jesus’ mandate found in Matthew 5:13?
  2. Salt is never consumed by itself. When we come on too strong, we turn others away. Colossians 4:6 reminds us to let our conversation “be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how to answer everyone.” How can this instruction help us handle potentially divisive conversations?
  3. By their very nature, salt crystals are tiny and often invisible, but it’s obvious when they’re lacking. If you moved or your church left the area, would your influence disappear as well? What are some ways you can connect with your surrounding community to make a lasting impact?

LifeLine

Seasoning draws attention to the food it enhances, not itself.
Serve others in a way that demonstrates your love for every
kind of person Jesus loves.

Notes

  1. Healthbeat Report: Salty Solutions,” ABC7, August 5, 2010.
  2. Alex Murashko, “Megachurch Pastor: Christians Thinking in Secular Way Contribute to Fast Rise of the ‘Nones,’” Christian Post, May 21, 2014.
  3. Africa Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Oasis International, 2016), African Touch Points: Salt, 1385.
  4. John 4:13-14.
  5. Matthew 5:13.

Author Bio: Maggie Wallem Rowe spent 25 years in ministry in New England with her pastor-husband Mike, where she taught at Daniel Webster University and directed women’s ministries throughout the six New England states. She has served as a public relations professional for Tyndale House, a guest communications instructor at Wheaton College, and has spoken at hundreds of outreach events, retreats, and conferences throughout the U.S.

Disclosure: Congratulations, Maggie, on your new book, This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others. And thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with an advance reader copy. As always, the choice to review and any opinions expressed are my own.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: How can I practice love and generosity in this time of pandemic and physical distancing?

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4 thoughts on “Love, Generosity, and Potato Chips

  1. Thank you, April, Hardy and I will try to join you for that facebook interview with MennoMedia.
    What an interesting example of feeding monkey’s salt in order to find out where the water supply is! Sounds like a good read!

    1. Thank you, Susan – there’s a lot more wisdom in Maggie’s book, including ministry and leadership, parenting and friendship, and much more!

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