I was given a list of questions to answer the other day for the moms group I attend twice a month. One of the questions was, "What do you like best about attending MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) meetings?". There are so many things I enjoy about it but I had to say that I just really enjoy the uninterrupted, adult conversation along with a prepared and uninterrupted meal. Both of those things are a rarity with a 3 yr old in the house. Just the other day....I found myself quoting Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham to Jude at the table. I wish chicken nuggets contained all the nutrients my daughter would ever need instead of well....mystery meat. If so, we'd be good to go and meal times would be much more peaceful. I know those moms in my MOPS group feel my pain along with all other mothers of preschoolers! Though, I shouldn't say much. I was an extremely picky eater as a child. My husband makes fun of me all the time because, with the exception of casseroles and peas in my mashed potatoes, I still don't like for most of my foods to touch. Green bean juice does not go well with potatoes. As much as I love corn and homemade mac n cheese, I can't bring myself to eat mac n cheese soaked in corn juice. I always remind him that, though he likes to mix up all of his food, he only likes about 5 things. I guess my pickiness has come back around on me four fold!
The boys were extremely picky when they were little, eating mostly chicken...though they'd eat it all kinds of ways. So, chicken, french fries, fruit, and milk was pretty much their diet for the first four years of their life. Then we could reason with them a little. The sports fanatics that they have always been, we could say, "These are football beans...they'll help you get big and strong so you can throw the football", "These are baseball beans.....they'll help you get big and strong so you can hit the baseball really hard", etc. It worked well. They are pretty good eaters now; Casseroles, salads, green beans, lima beans, broccoli, peas, corn, biscuits, etc. And....they can hit the baseball pretty hard, too! Now, they will eat some junk....certain kinds of cake, candy, or ice cream but they are very picky about it and have always preferred fruit. They've just now gotten to where they'll eat a candy bar.... occasionally. They still won't drink chocolate in their milk. Not sure that really qualifies as a refined palate but, in my book, it no longer qualifies them as picky eaters.
Now Jude, she's not very picky at all..... about her junk food. As long as the sweets are sweet and the chips are salty & not too spicy....she perseveres! Our trouble is that she use to eat all the things that I just listed that the boys will now eat. I'm pretty sure it's a control thing and not my cooking. But, foods that Jude once gobbled up simply because I set them in front of her and didn't make a big deal about it, she has now decided she no longer likes. How can we say we don't like something that we won't try? I've never understood that! She loves corn (go figure), french fries and chicken nuggets. Oh....and hotdogs and chocolate milk. It wasn't that the boys didn't go through the control phase....but, they were older. I always tried to fix things I knew they liked and I still do. So, once I had enough of meal time drama, it only took me sending them to bed hungry one night for them to learn to eat it and like it.....for the most part. With Jude, I'm not quite ready to send my 3 yr old to bed hungry. I have to hit her where it hurts....snacks; "If you don't eat your good food, you don't get any snacks tonight either."
Oh I'm sure there are all kinds of reactions and worries associated with rewarding with snacks or withholding food. But, for now, let's focus on the steak and not the peas. There is a very basic biblical concept that we parents forget to incorporate often, or submit ourselves to often.....and that is the concept of blessing.....and withholding blessing.
I think at times, we treat the Word of God like a child does their food.
We think that one glass of milk a week....or one verse...or one sermon....is going to grow us into the healthy, whole individuals that can run the race....or hit a homerun....or whatever.
At other times, we dig our heels in like a 3 year old no longer wanting the broccoli and cheese she once loved. Only, we don't come right out and say, "I don't like that!" We show it by our appetites for junk. We can find time for anything and everything but God. We can rationalize every act of disobedience in our minds.
The 3 yr old is just being a 3 yr old. We have no excuse. Its not that we really enjoy our position. Some may but a lot of us have asked ourselves, "why can't I get it together? Why can't I get past this, stop that, start this, finish that?" I would venture to say it's because we are malnourished. We don't have the strength to change, to grow, or even hold up, because we go to church once on Sunday and then fill our lives with junk the rest of the week. Or....we go to church on Sunday, maybe even read the word through the week, but never let it sink in; never let it strengthen our bones. It's a form of rebellion called complacency. Actually, the scriptures refer to it as being lukewarm. Still, there are others who hear or read a Word, and rebel because they don't like what it means for them personally. I think we've all probably been one or all of these at some point and need to be conscientious that we don't pick up old habits.
After being all of these myself and still trying to ward off any childish tendencies, I can say that He is just plain good. Just like the proverb says...."taste and see".
I love how Priscilla Shirer puts it:
"Once you begin to experience God....you are ruined for anything else."
Or how about Beth Moore's take?:
"Ain't no high like the Most High!"
How true it is. I crave time with Him. As a matter of fact, when answering the questions for the newsletter, one asked, "If you had a weekend free of kids and any responsibility, what would you do?" I had to say that I would just spend some much craved alone time with God....absorbing His Word without interruption and probably journaling about whatever experience He allowed me. Don't get me wrong...I'm not tooting my own horn. I still have issues of prioritization with my own time with Him and plenty of days where I just flat don't make time...... I am a work in progress too. But, as much as I love my sweet husband and our lively children.....there are times when there's certainly nowhere I'd rather be than at His feet and if I had a weekend with no family responsibilites, that's where I'd be.
Because the excess we consume daily tends to leave us far from satisfied. Haven't you ever noticed after all the holiday pie and cookie binging....by January 1st, we're just left feeling like we'd feel so much better if we could just puke but we don't have the energy because of the crash that follows the overload of simple starches?? It's the same way I've felt when I've overloaded my life with things that are not beneficial or just pure junk.
If we let Him though, He refines our palates so we can distinguish the good stuff from the junk. (His blessings from the devil's deceptions) He's patient....he doesn't expect us to know how to cook everything ourselves and which seasoning is best to use in what dish. I've become a decent cook in the 15 years we've been married but I can't tell you what on earth you season with cumin. I've burned my share of meals. I still burn them! (My husband is always telling me not to turn things on high and walk away. You can never pass off "scorched" as a new flavor you experimented with.)
Our spiritual palates certainly need refining. Ever wonder why it's so easy for those in impoverished, starving nations to accept the gospel vs the refined palates and hard hearts in our country today? Some would say its because the poor are uneducated and don't know better. I think it's the opposite. They see things much clearer. They simply see what's real in this world and what really matters. Whereas, in our country of abundance, we value pursuit of happiness above all else and our vision is very blurry. We are just a big breeding ground for all manner of the devil's schemes. We've acquired an appetite for junk; We cross our arms like my 3 yr old and say, "I don't like it!" and go our own way. We'd rather starve than submit. He won't force feed us, that's for sure.
For a non-believer, it's not of much (apparent) consequence. For a believer though...we find out from experience about the biblical concept of blessing and withholding blessing. Others wouldn't notice because of our abundance of stuff. But, there's that nagging feeling we have inside that something's still missing. And it is.
You know, I am 35 years old and I have finally gotten over myself and my control issues. Though, I am always on the lookout for them to rear their ugly heads again. But, I don't care that I'm not in control....I tend to mess things up anyway. No telling what kind of unhealthy life I'd be living if I'd had my way in some things over the years. It really is ok. For goodness sake....just try the peas!! The peas are what's missing!! Like Paul said, there's a time for milk...sure....but at some point, you need to move on to the solid food.
I don't want anything withheld from me because of my stubborn pride ever again. I want whatever He has for me. I want my family to experience the overflow of His blessings. I don't mean financially (though, that's always an obvious area of need and always appreciated!) But, being financially sound doesn't mean one is richly blessed. I'm talking about things I want for my family after I'm called home; things that remain, can't be taken by a politician or a bad economy. Not an enormous estate...I'm talking about knowing peace and joy; Having no fear; Feeling loved simply because His love couldn't be contained in me. The kinds of blessings He gives are the kind that keep on giving for generations to come. That's His promise in scripture to the obedient. And I want every single thing He wants to give me. Therefore, If He wants me to eat brussel sprouts (and I hope He doesn't), I may not like it...but I'm going to do it. Because I know He's refining my palate to partake of the things that bring me good and make me healthy and whole, so I can run my own race.
He may be asking you to eat green beans so to speak. I have to admit, the boys actually liked them long before I did. (There's a prime example of faith like a child....."these will help you hit the baseball really hard"...."Ok!") I ate a very few just so they could see me eat them too but fortunately, I learned how to cook them where not only I really like them, too, but my picky husband has slowly added them to his short list of acceptable meal staples, as well. Miracles do happen.
Maybe "green beans" for you is staying in a job, a marriage, a house, a friendship, a town, or a church that you just don't like right now. But, I can tell you that He blesses obedience. Even in impossible situations. Especially in impossible situations. Nothing is impossible for Him. You will find that one day, you're greatest blessing came from the fact that you ate your green beans like a big girl and you are now healthy and whole because of it and you'll be wondering with a thankful heart, "what if I had refused?!"
Let's just do ourselves a favor and not play around with His Word anymore. Let's commit to a healthy portion of it every day. Then, let's ward off the authority issues, the issues of control, fear, or whatever else keeps us tight lipped with arms crossed at His table.... and taste and see that He is good.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.