Okay, I will admit that I was born and raised North of the Mason-Dixon Line and that I had never had grits until I was in the process of moving from Chicago to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I had stopped for the night, somewhere between Nashville and Chattanooga, and had breakfast at the restaurant adjacent to the motel.
When ordering breakfast, I asked for “milk”. Does anyone know what “sweet milk” is? The waitress, for clarification of my request for “milk,” asked if I wanted “sweet milk”. After declining either chocolate milk or milk that had added sugar in it, the waitress walked away. There clearly was a failure to communicate. I am confident that she was thinking “Bless her heart”, in the southern way that means “poor, pitiful person!”
(I have since learned that in the South, at least when this occurred, restaurants would have buttermilk available for their patrons, so to distinguish between it and what would be regular milk in the North, non-buttermilk was often referred to as “sweet milk.”)
When the meal came, I saw a serving of eggs, bacon, toast, and oatmeal on the plate with white milk as the beverage. Now, I was not used to eating oatmeal on a plate – we always used bowls. But, I was moving into the South, so I attributed it to different customs, etc.
So, after eating the rest of the meal, I poured cream onto the oatmeal and after a bit of swishing it around, I took a bite. It really did not taste like oatmeal to me – it wasn’t bad, just really odd oatmeal.
When the waitress came back, I asked why the oatmeal was served on a plate because it made it very difficult to eat. You can understand, it ran all over the plate and couldn’t be corralled onto my spoon.
The waitress said “Oatmeal? Did you want oatmeal too?” I responded “No, I had not asked for it but it was on the plate.” To which she grinned and said with a voice that sounded like the quintessential southern belle:
“Honey, that wasn’t oatmeal – that was grits!”
Who knew? In the South, at least 40 years ago, you got grits whether you ordered them or not … they were the ubiquitous food made from ground corn that just showed up on your plate.
Obviously, my introduction to grits was not particularly formal or well-timed, although it was apparently humorous as I recall people in the restaurant watching me slurp my “oatmeal” all around the plate. I am sure they knew I was not “from ‘round here” when I said “GRITS?!” a bit too loud to be proper.
After four decades, I have grown in my culinary skills and tastes so that now I will even order grits, on purpose, when eating out. I have made instant grits at home (even though “No real southerner would dream of eating instant grits”, a comment that calls to mind the cook at the diner in the movie My Cousin Vinny.)
Proof of this transformation can be found in the fact that I just downloaded a recipe for cooking stone ground grits in the slow cooker – here is the picture of the grits from this recipe, in a cup I might add! [http://addapinch.com/cooking/easyrecipe-print/2224-0] Apparently, I have morphed into a quasi-southern girl, I guess!
I am at a loss, though, about one question … can you eat just one (1) grit? Who would want to … it certainly would not fill you up. But you never hear that “a grit” was served at the meal. You only hear of “grits”, plural. As a collection of grits, they are beneficial and healthy; and, with some cheese melted into them, they taste incredible. In short, grits are better when there is more than one.
Moving to the spiritual plain, I think grits are somewhat like Christians. I am not talking about being in a commune or cult, nor am I advocating withdrawal from society to be with your group alone.
You certainly can be a Christian all alone, and indeed, your relationship with Jesus Christ as a child of His is intensely personal. No two people come to the Lord in the same way, and He ministers in and through His people in unique ways equipping them with various abilities, all for His purposes.
But, Christians are called to meet together for teaching, preaching, fellowship, and ministry. While our faith in Jesus is personal, it is not in isolation. We come together as a family of believers and worship our God and His Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.. Some of our houses of worship are large and grand.
Some are not are grandiose, or as ancient.
Some are more rustic, but the Spirit of our Lord resides within the believer and, when we come together, there is the Spirit of the Lord.
And sometimes we even come together in our homes, to study the Bible, pray and fellowship with each other. We come together as did the early church in Acts 2:42, 27:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. … And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The writer of Hebrews said:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
We do not become Christians simply by being around Christians. We must have our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ for that new birth transformation to occur. But, we will have a hard time staying on the path of Christ if we do not avail ourselves of one of the means of grace provided by our Father, His Son and The Holy Spirit – the Body of Christ, the Church.
A grit will still be a bit of ground corn even if it is not with any other bits of corn. But it will not serve its purpose until and unless it is with a group of other grits; and then it will become nourishment for those who consume them.
A coal burning brightly in the fireplace will still be a coal even when it is taken out of the fire and put on the side. But it will go out without the nourishment of the fire. It will not be doing that which it was created to do unless and until it is returned to the fire so that it can burn hot and provide light and heat to those around it.
A Christian can be a Christian without being an active part in the Church; but the likelihood is that the light will become dull and the witness will be shallow and undernourished without regular intentional fellowship, worship, teaching, studying, serving and communion with fellow Christians in the Church.
Father, thank you for the lesson of grits. May I determine to be part of a Bible believing church that follows the pattern of Act 2 in learning the Scripture and the apostles’ teaching, in prayers with and for others, in fellowship with Christians who worship and serve my Lord Jesus Christ, and in regularly sharing communion with fellow believers as we remember the sacrifice that our Lord made for us. Thank you for the means of grace you so marvelously provided. Forgive me when I have either ignored them or taken them for granted. Such arrogance is sin and I ask forgiveness, in my Lord Jesus’ Name.