It should be enough to last a lifetime, right?
When my husband left for the gym at 10 a.m., I was eating my second breakfast — leftover lasagna. I had eaten a bowl of cereal earlier for my first breakfast. It seemed appropriate to follow my second breakfast with my first dessert, chocolate cake and ice cream.
Later, while he was still working out, I rewarded myself for completing my chores with two pretzels. (Or maybe I was delaying the rest of my to-do list.) Then I grabbed a baggie with not-so-freshly home-baked chocolate chip cookies, planning to eat one. It didn’t taste good. I ate both.
When Steve returned at noon, he asked if I were hungry for lunch. I had just thrown away the empty baggie and still had cookie crumbs in my teeth.
“Yes,” I said. (Of course, I wasn’t hungry, but to admit I was full meant confessing to my excess eating. Plus, I did need quality nutrition.)
2 breakfast + 2 snack + 1 lunch = too much
So we went to a deli for a hearty half and half combo, chili and salad. I ate every bite, even though I was stuffed before I sat down to eat. Then we went to the mall because Steve wanted to shop for a shirt he had in mind for me. How nice!
Except he actually found it. Which meant I had to try it on. You know, remove the clothes I was wearing and see myself naked in the mirror as I transitioned into the item he selected. I loved the shirt and the sentiment. I hated myself. I looked fat. I felt Thanksgiving-full. Uncomfortable.
“I’m never eating again!” I groaned as we walked through the mall. (My husband still didn’t know about my earlier binge.) “I’m going on a diet tomorrow.”
“Do you want to stop for a Frosty?” Steve asked as we passed Wendy’s in the food court.
“Do you want a Cinnabon?” as we walked past the counter.
“No! What part of ‘I never want to eat again’ do you not understand?”
“Do you want a bag of Krystal burgers?” he asked as we passed that restaurant on our drive home.
Such a funny man.
Delayed repentance is so fattening
Such a funny me, too. Just that morning, I had been reflecting that many of my problems are due to excess. I have too much stuff, hence the need to organize strategically or purge what I no longer use. I have too much food, hence the need to diet.
I even have too many sermons or podcasts or other teachings available. By trying to take in all of the wisdom and advice I hear, I manage to do none of it. Or none of it well.
Certainly, less is more.
Even better, the right thing is more. Why did I binge? Sometimes I eat junk because it’s within reach and the first thing I see when I’m ravenous. Sometimes I stuff myself because I’m stressed or it provides a brief respite from whatever difficult task I am trying to accomplish.
Sometimes I try to fill myself with something because I need something to fill me.
Maybe I’m craving ice cream and trying to avoid it so I eat everything except ice cream. (And then succumb to the temptation anyway.) Maybe I’m truly hungry and need protein, but I try filling it with an easy-to-grab carb. So I eat and eat and eat.
Maybe I need the comfort of my Savior or the insight of the Holy Spirit — but I attempt to flesh out a solution on my own. Like my deep dive into carbsville, it leaves me Thanksgiving-full but oh, so empty.
Even more than “less is more,” the right thing is more.
Discomfort is so inspirational
It makes me think of Jesus (of course) — but, specifically, when He told the ever-busy-trying-to-please-and-do-everything-right Martha that her sister Mary chose the right thing. Mary, the one sitting on her tuchus, not helping.
Martha was scurrying about the house as the perfect cook, housekeeper, and hostess when Jesus was there. (The first Martha Stewart, minus the conviction and jail time.) Mary managed to ignore Martha’s hints and facial expressions suggesting she get busy too. Instead, she parked herself at Jesus’ feet as He spoke.
But when Martha resorted to suggesting Jesus tell Mary to get busy, He didn’t comply. In fact, He suggested that only one thing was needed — and that Mary had it right.
“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her,” He said (Luke 10:42, NLT).
Ah, yes. The right thing is more. (It frustrates me, too, since I relate much more to the ever-busy-trying-to-please-and-do-everything-right Martha, especially when fueled by chocolate.)
Did I mention that Steve and I requested a toasted baguette on the side of our chili and salad instead of crackers? Nothing like bread to sop up iced tea and soup to make you feel really full.
When we got home from the mall, I put my over-full self back into Martha action, hoping that moving around would help the food digest faster. As I cleared the kitchen counter, I paused as I put away a breadbasket. It was a wedding gift painted around the rim by a friend with these words (and a couple well-placed hearts):
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger” (from John 6:35, NASB).
He might well have said, “I am the lasagna (or chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookies or actual nutrients) of life.” Or cheesecake or a “wafer-thin” mint, for that matter.
Despite my declaration of I “never want to eat again” or how full I felt at the moment, I wanted Him. The Bread of Life. The something that would truly fill me.
The really empty calories
Why do I fill myself with things that don’t satisfy me? With things that make me feel terrible? With things I know aren’t in my best interest?
Why as a believer in Jesus do I ever feel hungry? Doesn’t He indicate He is the Bread of Life and he who comes to Him will not hunger?
Ah! As I look at the verse again, I notice the word comes. It seems like a verb, but it acts as an adjective. “He” is modified by the phrase “who comes to me.” The real verb is “will (never) go”; the “who comes to me” is an adjective describing who “he” is who will not go hungry.
“He who comes to Me,” Jesus said. (In the original Greek, the word for comes in this context is a present participle, not a past-tense verb, according to BlueLetterBible.org. In English, a present participle would take the -ing form of the word: coming.)
Jesus isn’t describing a person who came once. He describes a believer who is coming — again and again and again. (I think. I’m not a Bible scholar, but I am quite good at English grammar.)
We don’t “eat” the Bread of Life once and never feel hungry again. (Jesus wants us to hunger after righteousness, remember?) He simply promises that when we come hungry to Him, the Bread of Life, He satisfies.
I live in a Martha world, one in which I do, do, do. I imagine you do, too. Yes, I take my Mary time in the morning and sit at Jesus’ feet, but when my responsibilities get my feet moving, I find it difficult to stay focused on the one right thing.
To come, continually, to the Bread of Life, who satisfies my longing heart.
Oh, Dear Reader, I am thankful that He knows my weaknesses and offers grace. He didn’t scold Martha, did he? He told her, essentially, to stop her ceaseless duties and join Mary at His feet.
The story ends there, but I like to think that Martha let go of her ambitions for a perfect meal and joined her sister in choosing the one right thing, Jesus. Much as I did with a breadbasket in my hands. And will do — again and again and again.
I hope you do too.
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