When I was young I hated peas.
You can ask my Mom and she will tell you that she still remembers me shuffling peas around my plate for what seemed like an hour, trying to make it look like I had actually eaten some of the green balls of goo. While it never bothered me if my food touched, I still thought it quite unnecessary to mess up a perfectly good casserole by adding peas. Mom never really asked me, she just expected me to eat them anyway, and eventually I learned to like them.
Notice I didn’t say, “love them”. I did learn a life lesson, though. By being forced to eat those dreaded peas I absorbed a simple truth:
Sometimes we have to swallow the yucky things in life so we can get on to the better things.
Maybe not so profound, but you guessed it–I’m not just talking about food.
Often we are faced with a plate that is so full that it seems like we are just pushing it all around, shuffling neglect. We spin our wheels trying to cross one thing off our list–avoiding or even pushing aside those little things that are just not quite as appealing.
Well, maybe it’s time to clean your plate.
Sometimes we just have to scrape it all in the trash and start over. My mom didn’t give me that privilege when it came to dinner, but our Heavenly Father affords us the right and even encourages us to do so. He is doing us a favor by urging us to let go of some of those things that are stressing us out while reminding us of our priorities.
So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:31-33
Starting over can be scary–and so can trust–but they can also be freeing. What it means is, you take a fresh look at what you are putting on your plate. Is it healthy or filled with junk? Are you choosing to focus on the things that you know you will be glad you did when you are 5 years down the road? (That greasy burger topped with bacon and cheese and fried onion rings might taste good, but you will pay for it later!) And some of the things that we think are so important are really just fillers. Time wasters. Time we can never get back.
Beginning fresh might mean that it could take some time to clean up the mess before we can actually see progress. While it may mean letting go of lesser things, it does not mean that we shirk responsibility. Just as I know that feeding my family is one job that cannot be left off my plate, neither is a steady diet of Bible study, family time or worship. Extra-curricular activities might be good for my long-term health, but they are never worth it if I’m sacrificing the greater for the good.
Those words in Matthew 6:33 are a favorite verse for many Christians. You might argue with yourself or even with God about what you think you need, but if you want to get the full picture, you cannot neglect the verse that precedes it:
“…your Heavenly Father knows.”
He knows what you need better than you do.
Being honest with yourself requires a heart check. If I am seeking God just so He will provide for me, then I am missing the point. God does provide. But He is not asking us to do something (seek Him), with the motive of receiving what we think we want or need–He is asking us to trust Him.
…even if we have to eat a few peas along the way or do a little house cleaning.
It is in the seeking that we see more clearly what our priorities should be. Feasting on God’s Word will not only fill us, it will illuminate what is good and what is compost-ready. And it starts with prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer is not necessarily to be quoted verbatim, but it is a guide–or how to pray:
Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
This kind of prayer is not focused on what we want, but on what God wants. Getting in God’s presence will help us to see His perspective.
“Pie-in-the-sky” is an idiom that means “something that is pleasant to imagine, but unattainable.” Maybe that’s where you are right now. You would love a clean plate but you don’t see how it’s possible. God sees. Our faith has to be more than just, “I’ll do this or that and hope that God blesses it.”
Faith is not pie-in-the-sky.
Faith says, “I love and trust a holy God who is faithful. I believe that His plan is always good and true and right–and best–and as best I know how, I am going to choose to fill my life with things that are healthy for my relationship with Him and with others.”
I want a piece of that pie on my plate, don’t you?
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