January 2, 2016
A GIFT INSIDE, OUTSIDE, AND ON A PLATE
Sometimes when Linda and I get to going in two different directions, suppertime gets interesting. Last night we had Izzi, Jo, and Eliza stay overnight with us. Izzi and Jo were "bored," so I figured we could remedy that, which we did. Linda had planned on taking Abi for her Christmas shopping today, so I said I would take the other girls to do some shopping they wanted to get done. Izzi had no interest in it, so she went home this morning while I took Jo and Eliza to the mall. Two pre-teen girls and a mall are as perfect a match as can be found on earth, and they made the most of it. Having their own money, they were pretty careful in what they spent, and in my estimation, did pretty well. They even had enough to get their nails done, although I sweated it out just a bit, thinking that they had misunderstood the Chinese gentleman who ran the shop. They said, "Six dollars," and I thought, "There's no way they can get their nails done for six bucks!" But they did! I was relieved that I didn't have to bail them out, and they were two happy campers.
We got home just after noon, but Linda and Abi took a bit longer. I made a sandwich for lunch, paid a visit to Bills' Gun and Saddle Shop, practiced my bassoon, and waited for Linda. Fast forward to supper time. Neither of us was particularly hungry, and having been in different places all day, neither of us had thought much about what to have for supper, so we checked out the leftovers. And that is the point of my story. When before in human history did anyone except royalty have such a thing as leftovers? Deprivation and hunger are a far more common human experience than leftovers. Linda cleaned out the refrigerator on New Year's Eve, and threw out stuff that had sat a tad too long. How blessed is that? We can sometimes live on leftovers for a week! There wasn't much variety on my plate, but it was there, more than I could eat in one sitting.
My mother has told how when she and her sister were growing up during the Great Depression, her parents often went to bed hungry so their girls would have enough to eat. My mother spent summers on the farm with her grandparents because there wasn't always enough at home. I've never known deprivation of that sort, let alone the kind where entire families and villages starve to death due to war or their government's genocidal policies.
If it weren't enough that we have leftovers on our plates, the spiritual feeding we receive week after week is so abundant that the real danger for American Christians is being overfed and underexercised. Our national physical obesity problem makes headlines; our spiritual obesity nobody notices. We clean our spiritual plates, but don't exercise our faith and obedience. We are long on the feeding and short on the faith. So I am grateful tonight for plates of leftovers, a reminder of blessings and a challenge for faithfulness. May we never experience a famine of the Word (Amos 8:11), but may God deliver us from self-induced spiritual obesity. May our hearts and our faithfulness be as full as our plates!