It seems more recent, but over twenty years have now passed. It was a Sunday evening "evangelistic" service at an Assembly of God church. There still existed in American Protestant churches something of a standard songbook, the chorus and sing-songs now so popular with the younger generation were not yet universal. And so it was that night we sang songs Kay and I had heard innumerable times as children -- she in the Baptist Church and I in a Church of Christ.
Something in me longed for those lost days of being a kid and having to endure the Sunday evening service (we always went twice on Sunday). The songs, now so familiar, took me back in memory's secret place to a small building, people who loved us, and open windows as antidote to heat. For that moment in that small Assembly, as comes to all of us old folks, I longed to go home again.
For what it's worth, I seemed to hear in my spirit these words from Scripture which I never forgot: "Onions and garlic." As an old professor said, the Holy Spirit can pull out of your brain anything you'd first put there.
The words come from Numbers 11. Seems while leading the children of Israel through the wilderness Moses is suddenly aroused by yet another grumbling of God's people:
"The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, 'If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost -- also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!'" (Numbers 11.4-6, NIV)
And so it was with my wishes to go back to the hymns of lost and wasted youth, merely onions and garlic.
Seems like one of God's big problems is that nothing He does for His kids is quite enough (which does sound vaguely familiar). Always last time things were better.
All of this came to mind in response to a recent purchase. A few weeks ago we happened on one of those Bill Gaither infomercials touting a CD/DVD set of old time hymns we'd heard in childhood. Hymns now sung by a young generation of singers who know not un-air-conditioned houses of worship. Found the website and entered my credit card. All told at this point in my life I needed the comfort and peace of some old hymns to play now and then.
If those 20 years back, the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something about depending on His on-going, current provisions, something could also be learned from Gaither.
Here is what I learned (so far): With God we cannot go backwards to what He used to do, how He used to provide, or to the faith our parents had. It's always okay to visit what went before, occasional onions and garlic, we are assured, are healthy (and the total lack thereof detrimental). But, no one wants to go back to Egypt and only those stuck in a wilderness obsess over a lack of onions and garlic.