Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blue Bell and Grace

For those that know me, that I would actually write on the beauty of Blue Bell ice cream comes as no surprise. Growing up in East Texas, I spent many an afternoon eating Blue Bell's top-seller, Homemade Vanilla, from the carton with my mom right beside me. The bottom line is Blue Bell lives up to the hype. It simply is the best ice cream in the country.

Founded in 1907, the original Brenham Creamery Company purchased excess cream from local dairy farmers and sold butter to people in Brenham, Texas. Later, they expanded production of their creamery to include ice cream. This move restored the company to good financial status as well as the good graces of the community. Renamed Blue Bell Creameries in 1930 after a native Texas wildflower, which, like ice cream, thrived in the summer, Blue Bell now produces the third-best selling ice cream in the United States. This "little creamery" in Brenham has accomplished this even though it only sells in seventeen mostly Southern states.

I have visited the "promised land" and tasted the many flavors Blue Bell produces. I have lifted multiple spoons and savored this sweet nectar of heaven over and over again. I never get tired of Blue Bell ice cream... never. Yet, I will acnowledge one significant limitation - no matter how diligent I am in trying to extend the joy that Blue Bell brings me, it is only momentary joy. Yes, a few scoops of Homemade Vanilla or the seasonal gem Southern Blackberry Cobbler cure whatever ails me, but it's only a short-term fix.

All of us, I am sure, have our own short-term fixes for the bumps and bruises we experience in our lives. Some are harmless, while others are quite harmful. The real danger is when we allow these short-term fixes to dull our attentiveness to the source of our brokenness, placing our own selfish interests ahead of God's interest both in and for us.

God has not been silent as this condition has progressed historically. Speaking into history and responding to humanity's broken condition, God didn't offer Blue Bell, but grace. As much as I love Blue Bell, I recognize the momentary joy it brings pales in comparison to the eternal bliss God offers in a restored relationship with Him made possible only through the gift of God's grace in Jesus Christ. While Blue Bell is good, Jesus is better.

You may not know this, but Blue Bell differentiates between the cost of diferent ice creams by color-coding the rims of the half-gallon containers. Thus, the color of the rim designates the cost of ingredients in different flavors. If it cost more to make the ice cream, the additional cost is passed on to you and I. For example, Country Vanilla and Strawberry have a silver rim because they are the least expensive to make, Homemmade Vanilla and Cookies-n-Cream have a gold rim, and Southern Blackberry Cobbler and Southern Hospitality have a brown rim because of the special ingredients used.

What color do you think designates the cost Jesus paid on humanity's behalf in order to make possible a restored relationship with God? I believe I would choose red, a deep purplish-red that reminds me of the blood spilled, of the price paid so that I might experience abundant life. A color that also reminds me of the lifestyle God has called me to, a life of self-sacrifice, a life of giving myself away by sharing with my very life the good news of God's grace in Jesus Christ so that others may live.

If you ever find yourself in Texas, come on by the Carroll household. We promise to treat you to a heapin' bowlful of Blue Bell ice cream. We also promise that, by God's grace manifested in our broken and redeemed family, you might also taste of the goodness of a life of faith and be drawn to the feet of Jesus.

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