During one of my recent evangelistic meetings, my son and I were staying in one of the most unique areas a person could ever find.
Our hotel was in Gallipolis, and the meeting that I was preaching was in Gallipolis Ferry, W.Va., just outside of Point Pleasant, W.Va. I have been there many times and have always enjoyed the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, the historical town of Gallipolis (which now has an excellent Pip & Hud’s yogurt shop), the many lovely bridges, the fantastic historical mural along the flood wall in Point Pleasant, and even the Mothman.
But on this most recent trip, my son and I were introduced to a brand-new experience. In the tiny town of Lesage, W.Va., pastor Burgess took us to a unique culinary gem — Hillbilly Hot Dogs.
If you are from the big city, you will regard the place as being located just east of nowhere. When we pulled onto the property, we noticed a vehicle mounted high up in the treetop. I have no idea how they accomplished that.
There is a giant replica of a moonshine still draining into a bathtub. There are “outhouses” and a wedding shack.
The dining rooms may be the most unique visual in the entire experience. Two old yellow school buses have been joined together, air-conditioned, and had tables placed in between the seats. Every square inch of the walls and ceiling has had people scroll their names on it in black magic marker.
The food is delicious. Walk up to the counter (the sign over which says “order grub rite cheer”) pick a hot dog, any hot dog, or one of their giant hamburgers, and you will not be disappointed.
As I sat in the school bus enjoying the fellowship and the hot dog and all of the stereotypical hillbilly humor, I could not help but be impressed with what is becoming an increasingly rare phenomenon; people who know how to laugh and cut up without being offended.
We are living in quite certainly the most professionally offended generation in the history of mankind. The days of only reacting to things by being offended are gone. Our generation has become quite positively proactive in taking offense, waking up daily actually looking for a reason to be angry or miserable.
And nothing is too small to escape our notice. A high school mascot can draw the ire of the most elite of protest organizations, a poor tip in a restaurant can go viral in a matter of minutes, the words “Merry Christmas” can cause a lawsuit, and every word people innocently say has to be examined under a microscope to make sure it can in no way be remotely construed as racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic, ageist, stereotypical or a thousand other qualifiers.
In short, our society has thrown grace to the curb.
In Ruth 2:10, Ruth said to Boaz, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” Ruth, a woman of a different race, different station in life, different background, found that the grace of Boaz toward her made all the difference.
Grace we give allows us to give people the benefit of the doubt rather than simply assuming the worst. Grace we give allows us to forgive others as Christ forgave us. Grace given to us allows us to breathe much easier, laugh, and let go of the fear and trepidation of crossing some unknown yet forbidden line.
Grace on all sides allows us to make a wide distinction between people who are trying to be offensive, and people who have innocently said or done something we do not like.
The world could use more grace — and more Hillbilly Hot Dogs.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. Dr. Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.