Bacon Cheeseburgers and the Holy Spirit


Bacon Cheesburger Sub 2005By Amanda Leavitt

In all our planning, in all our doing, are we making space for sandwiches—I mean, the work of Holy Spirit?

In the early hours of a spring Saturday eleven years ago, I made a monumental decision that set my priorities in a new order and which has impacted my life every day since. I decided to end my first 30 Hour Famine by eating a bacon cheeseburger sub. This was monumental because I was a devoted vegetarian (eight whole months devoted)! I can remember the deciding moment vividly: it was about 2am and I was sitting in small circle of new friends, the hardcore six who decided we should suffer the hunger pangs all night long awake, instead of allowing sleep to mask them. I had become a Christian two months earlier and right away joined the leadership team for The Famine. But at 2am, united against world hunger and against sleep, came the moment where these people really became my people, and when the church youth ministry became my family. It was also the moment when I became such a hungry vegetarian, I not only wanted to eat a cow, but a pig too, all smothered in cheese and wrapped in soft bready goodness. We decided we would all cap off the 30 hour fast by eating bacon cheeseburger subs. Later that day, when the fast ended, a small crowd of tough anti-hunger warriors gathered in my parent’s basement applauding my first bite of meaty sub before they all chowed down on their own. I laugh as I think back on how that weekend we all fasted in the name of starving people and in the end stood up for carnivores everywhere by gorging on meat.

In my current position as a youth pastor, if I heard students impassioned over a bacon cheeseburger after a hunger awareness function, I would probably be discouraged, wondering if they had missed the point. When a student says they made a life changing decision, I want to hear that someone put their trust in Jesus or turned from sin, not that they decided to become an omnivore (although there is perhaps something sinful about not eating steak. Let’s be real).

No youth pastor could have ever planned the moment that connected me to that group of students. Eleven years later and hundreds of miles away I am still walking through life and faith with those same people. That bacon cheeseburger sub I craved with that small group of students in the middle of the night, built the foundation for me to stay connected to the body of Christ and growing for years to come. My choice to follow Jesus was huge, but the moment where I discovered a community that connected me to Jesus for life was vital.

In youth ministry we are space makers in an overwhelmed crowded world. We are leaders who are tasked with conjuring atmospheres where students encounter God and share Him with one another. There are moments where we feel pressure to have each moment prepared and every student doing what we have planned.  Sometimes I need to remind myself to allow space for students to just be themselves, un-programmed, unplanned. Without this vital space our students could miss out on experiencing the unpredictable work of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it He who binds their hearts together and teaches them through one another? Leaving this kind of space allows them to have bazaar God moments they can point back to. Because really, who except God would have imagined the Holy Spirit working through a bacon cheeseburger sub?