I have Conquered the Jughead American Dream Burger. That’s one of my few claims to fame – eating a 1 KG (2.2 lb) hamburger with a side order of fries in 35 minutes. That weight didn’t include the weight of the bun or extra fillings of the burger, either. 2.2 lbs of pure lean beef. When they brought it out, I thought it took the term “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” to a new level. In this case, the burger itself was bigger than a good part of my abdomen, and looked like a small cake.
Pano’s Diner was a little restaurant owned by one of the local stake presidents, so we got free shakes whenever we came – which worked out nicely for washing down the Jughead American Dream Burger.
I’m almost ashamed to say I ate the thing. Two other missionaries had conquered it already, and I wanted to show them up. You might say I did, since it took only took me a half hour, while it took them 2-3 hours to finish their’s. But I’ve always recognized the fact that the faster you eat, the more you can eat. But even more than that, anyone who can finish the burger in one sitting got a free shirt, and got to sign the wall of the restaurant. Who could pass up such an opportunity?
I still have that shirt, and I wear it with pride. It’s fun to be able to explain how I got it.
What I generally fail to mention is the difficulty I had in keeping the stuff down. Numerous times I felt it almost coming up, and for many hours afterward, even most of the day, I was deathly thirsty. A couple of times I tried to drink, but even a sip nearly brought the load out. Also, it was probably the most money I spent on a meal in my whole mission.
In reflecting back on this, I thought about how much we gorge ourselves with the things of this life. We cram our stomachs with things that are not bad of themselves , but which crowd out time and energy for the essential things. We see the rewards that the world has to offer, and they look enticing to us. We work hard to obtain them, and get the reward – the chance to sign a wall and take home a free shirt that recognizes our accomplishment – or perhaps something more alluring, such as prominence, position, power, money, or popularity. While it is seldom that these rewards are inherently bad, our pursuit of them may cost us more than we are willing to admit. They may cost time, means, or energy, when those things could have been used to build the Lord’s kingdom and our families. If eating a certain thing makes it impossible to drink water, it is better not to eat it. Our families need water, our callings need water, our testimonies need water, but if our lives are too full of unnecessary secular “hamburger,” we may not have room for them.
Also, carrying that hamburger the rest of the day was difficult, which brings to mind the Savior’s promise that if we take His burden upon us, we will find it much lighter than the burden we place upon ourselves. It’s hard to keep sin down and hidden. It usually comes up, and when it does, we are humiliated and ashamed. But Christ can remove sin from our hearts. His burden costs so much less than the price we pay for our own burdens and sins. Sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking the way is too hard or too straight, but if we look close, we find that it is our attempts to stay on our own paths while following Christ that makes it so difficult. Besides, we can see the immediate rewards of our hamburger paths, while the rewards of the Spirit seem very slow in coming, if we see them at all.
Yet the spiritual rewards for taking Christ’s burden on us are of far greater, even infinite value.