A Mercy Gift Surprise


Food is not a really big deal to me.  There are a few things I absolutely dislike — curry, cole slaw, Taco Bell and Waffle House.

And there are a few things I enjoy more than others like my own granola.

But basically, gourmet feasts are almost wasted on me.  I remember the conversation more than the cuisine after an expensive dinner out.  Although I have eaten some pretty expensive meals (at someone else’s expense) in sundry places around the world, only three delectable meals stand out from the rest:  an extraordinary bowl of French vanilla ice cream in New Jersey, a wonderful piece of lamb at the world’s best Italian restaurant outside of Italy (the sign on the wall said so) in Lagos, Nigeria (definitely outside of Italy!!!), and a prime rib dinner in Minneapolis.

Slim pickin’s for all the fine restaurants people have taken me to over the years.

When I am providing for myself, my eating habits are quite plebian:  meat and potatoes, with some veggies and a glass of water (no ice, no lemon).  A nice piece of bread is a lovely addition.  There are two or three things I regularly eat for breakfast and never tire of.  I have a boring diet and it does not bore me.  Food is just not a big deal to me.

However, there is one restaurant in the world that draws me.  I go there if I am ever in that city, even if I have to go alone.   It is clearly a Mercy restaurant, but this is no Starbucks with teensey round tables and exotic jazz playing in the background.  This is a MALE Mercy restaurant.  I love the large, exposed wood beams, the substantial tables and chairs and flatware that is big enough to handle plus portions that are man-sized.

Whoever manages this restaurant also does an exceptional job training their staff.  Most waiters and waitresses are either emotionally disengaged or are mechanical rabbits going through each step of the plastic relationship building ritual they have been taught.

The staff here is hugely alert, and each one tests the water skillfully and engages with their customer at whatever level the customer is interested in.  I love that, since I am not always in the same mood when I go there.  If I am contemplative, they will be nearly invisible and serve me with silence.  If I am in a social mood, I can query them about the local events and get an earful.

Last night I got a seat by the fireplace and studied the menu a long time before ordering a fancy meal.  It has to be decades since I have ordered appetizers at a restaurant.  I consider them overpriced nonsense, but this time I ordered a spinach and artichoke spread with pita chips.

Moi?!

Yes indeed.

And then, I ordered some goat cheese and Portobello mushrooms on flat bread.

And a big steak with sides.

Amazing.  Not my usual order.

I sat back pondering that while waiting for the food to come, wondering what that was all about.  What makes it even more odd is that in this city, I find it hard to eat. For whatever reason, when I am here, I just don’t get around to eating.  I know I should.  I feel a little hungry, but I don’t make time for food, except to go to this restaurant.

So here I was, in the city where food means less to me than at any other place in the world, drawn to the only restaurant in the world that I like enough to go back to and pay high prices for food, and I am ordering like a gourmand.  What is up with this?

I developed a theory out of that.  Definitely a half-baked potato, but still . . .

The Mercy gift desires a complete ecosystem in whatever they do.  Whether it is interior decorating or music or software or clothing, they like the whole to fit together impeccably with nothing left out.  That is old news.

But I wonder whether the Mercy gift in its maturity has the capacity to wake up in someone’s spirit the portions of their design that are there, but have not been an active part of the ecosystem yet.

Did the Mercy gift of the restaurant cause me to order something that is natural and appropriate for me because of my design, or was this simply exceptional wordsmithing on the menu that used soulish manipulation to pull me into something that is NOT me?

I don’t know, but I will certainly be on the watch for this dynamic with other Mercy gifts.  I wonder whether this is a blessing of presence that is operant in the mature Mercy gift and it awakens latent portions of someone else’s design.  If so, we ought to be able to see it because I know a handful of people who have grown their Mercy gift to a high level of functionality.

We will watch and see.

Copyright November 2010 by Arthur Burk

On a land assignment, somewhere

This entry was posted in The Redemptive Gifts of Individuals. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Mercy Gift Surprise

  1. Jayne Yuill says:

    I had labelled myself an “eat-out-of-the can” person. I ‘d rather eat a handful of nuts, rather than chop them up to put in a salad. Actaully, I skip the salad and buy a veggie smoothie. I appreciate “excellent” cooking only a modicum more than hot-dogs and canned brown beans. Or just brown beans.
    I had a dream about 3 years ago, where God showed me intricate and artistic food items and arrangements, in the context of a specifically themed restaurant. So, yes, as I have been musing over the last day or two about what to plan and bring to an upcoming potluck, I see now that I am on one hand loathe to bring any one “fancy” item (maybe slap a large can of pork-and-beans and a can opener on the picnic table?) BUT BUT BUT as I imagine what I COULD prepare (we were asked to bring a large volume this time) I found myself wanting to create a detailed menu (ie. at least two or three main course dishes, plus deserts and drinks that are refreshing and not overly sweet: “refreshments”). Thanks Arthur and other Commenters for helping me connect all this!
    I have been contemplating off and on that God invites us to “taste and see that the LORD is good”. Maybe we need to taste FIRST and THEN see… (Our brains are apparently wired to more directly receive taste and smell input, whereas sight and sound input travel on much longer pathways, and are subject to more neurological processing .)
    Thank-your Arthur and Commenters! Thank-you Holy Spirit!
    -J ayne

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  2. Lee-Ann Raaff says:

    I am a mercy and just don’t enjoy cooking at all. Everybody loves my cooking but I don’t enjoy the kitchen at all. It sometimes feels as if the kitchen ties me down. When I am emotionally upset or have things bothering me I just cannot cook I tend to burn my dishes or it just comes out miserably yuk. I now know that there are times that I just have to keep things plain and simple. I also know that I need God’s grace to cook in the kitchen and when I feel such a release to bake or cook, I enjoy my kitchen thoroughly, and the end result is delicious. I do enjoy spicy/rich meals and different cuisine, and am always looking for something different on the menu when having dinner out. Thank you to all of the above!

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    • Plumbline Ministries says:

      Umm….what if you look in a different direction? You don’t necessarily have to fit into anyone else’s mold. What is it that God made you to do? Where do you soar? What causes your spirit to find comfort when you are down?

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  3. Thomas Grunder says:

    Arthur, I think that you do sense in the right direction. I have several times observed that the presence seem to bring components into place, is bringing a shift to more integrated functioning or better interacting. By several interactions at different times, most times another step came into place. Interesting to see that, am pondering if there is some particulars that sets this in motion. It seems to work also here in Africa when a person has no clue about redemptive gifts. That is where I am right now and your half-baked potato helped me to see it more clearly

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  4. Daphne McNutt says:

    Mary-Anne thank you for that description. It has helped me tremendously. I am a mercy and I have to eat for fuel because of health issues, and now I completely understand why I am so frustrated. Eating simply for the fuel aspect is so unsatisfying. I thought having my husband prepare the meals would help, and it does to a degree (at least I don’t have to think about what to prepare)…but it is so ungratifying. You have sparked an idea to make my meals more unique and celebratory and still stay within the restrictive guidlines.

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  5. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    I laughed the whole way through this blog as it set off so many lights and buzzers in my head. When I met my husband he was “strictly a meat and potatoes” kind of guy.
    Now, he loves curries and aubergines, and the real biggie “vegetarian food!” as well as a whole gamut of things he would never eat before. He also now prefers to eat at home than eat out.
    I am a Mercy who loves to cook, and whether it is just for the two of us or a whole lot of guests I spend time planning the menu and creating a meal rather than just fuel to fill and go.
    So to me it made perfect sense that Arthur even you (who perhaps views food simply as you do gas for your car), in a Mercy restaurant, chose a variety of dishes because one dish is NOT an eco-system. But with the variety of choices an eco-system was created and this built a complete experience.
    In the language of food, where a full meal is represented by a fish tank which is an eco-system, one dish is like having a fish tank with a plant in it and nothing else.
    I believe that God uses many ‘”food analogies” because food should arouse all of our senses, touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing and therefore reaches our spirits at a level that another analogy would not.
    If we look at the God’s description of the Promised Land it was flowing with milk and honey. Those two words evoke so many ideas involving all of the senses, the translucent gold and sharp sweetness of the honey, the cool velvety smoothness of the milk that smells rich and creamy, the sound of the milk splashing into a dish … the words do more than communicate information, they make us feel something.
    And then my favourite; Ecc 24-25 “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labour is good. This also I have seen, that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?”
    So the circle starts with God and ends with Him and we find ourselves complete.

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  6. Yes, I’ll have that potato with all the fixins…. w/Megan on the beauty and joy factors. Long ago the Father taught me that he grieves over the wounds/sin/immaturity in his children as that which has stolen or marred the beauty of who he made them to be, and seeing that beauty awakened or revealed in and to them releases a fountain of joy in me whose waters I cannot divide between what is mine and what is the Lord’s — as it should be. And w/Anita, who speaks of helping people “enter and exit with ease” — which evokes God’s beckoning to enter his rest, the ultimate metaphor for sharing life with him as he meant it to be. I’m not good at analyzing all these parts, but I know when my heart feels like it has come home — what all of you are calling an ecosystem. And from my experience there is no doubt that the places that have become fully alive in us are used by the Lord to awaken the slumbering places in others.

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  7. erica says:

    Hmm. . . it makes me think about freedom. Something about your experience there made you feel free to try something different. Your previous experiences told you that this was a safe place to savor and enjoy. I am a mercy and your story also jogged my memory about an experince I had with a friend several years back. I was sharing with her my journey of discovering my own gift with writing poetry. We talked again a few days after that conversation and she said with joy and delight that she had gone home after that and sat down and said what do I have to lose, and she wrote several of her own poems that were very freeing for her to write. My intention in sharing was not to get her to write, but my story and presence made it safe for her to try. I of course was over the moon to hear that I impacted her that way. (I think Mercies in general, severally minimize the weight of there impact) I’ve had this experence a few times where something I wrote or shared freed others to try something they never had.

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  8. Irina says:

    One thing that comes to mind is that you were caused to order in a whole new way by a passive type of experience – the waiter wasn’t badgering you to get out of your ‘same old’ ways, for example. What I see is if there is hard work on the part of a Mercy to respect all the principles, the Mercy can then present them without having to do any song and dance. This post also made me think of Heaven and how perhaps the totality of the entire system with God’s spirit fully able to reveal Himself will cause us to go beyond who we thought we were. Is that heaven on earth?

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  9. anita says:

    so – i understand that you are saying : the mercy gift has the ability to create an ecosystem through which others can enter and exit with ease.
    while others are in this ecosystem they can become aware of new possibilities and abilites in their own spirit which they were unaware of, depending on the ecosystem.
    two key words to me are – system and interaction.
    my question is – what are they supposed to do with this awakening?
    should it only be enjoyed, used, reproduced or further developed?

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  10. This has really landed, and makes me think it might just be more than a half-baked potato. It got me thinking about the fact that I have often rejoiced over finding the hidden pieces in someone and helping bring them into the light, or restoring the things that got tromped on, or pulling the old dreams out of the graveyard and seeing if there is still yet something that can be revived. As I thought about it more, the picture of the ecosystem really fit. I long to help people be complete, to have every part of their design present and functioning because the beauty is not complete until they are. Everything affects something else. But even above that, is the sense that IF there is a fully functioning ecosystem, there will be a collective effect that is greater than the parts. There will be synergy.

    I was talking about this with a Prophet friend of mine and we started exploring the differences between the Prophet and the Mercy in this regard because the Prophet is also driven to unpack design. So, we figured there must be different reasons for it, given the difference in gift. And where we ended up is that the Prophet is more focused on the functionality – knowing that this person was made to do THIS thing, and so they want to see it function as it was made to. I think it especially grates on a Prophet when someone is doing what they weren’t made to do, because there IS a better way! For the Mercy, it seems to be more along the lines of releasing parts of the design that have a catalytic effect on the whole – perhaps from the sense that everything is connected like a web, and the true beauty will come when there is completion.

    Fun stuff to explore!

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  11. Grace says:

    Very interesting, your half-baked-potato. I will be on the watch for this as well.

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