One day last week I was thinking about what we were to have for lunch and dinner that day. On our menu was rice and beans. Quite frankly, I was getting a little tired of that entrée! We bought ourselves a rice cooker for Christmas last year and we eat a lot of whole grain rice. I like rice and we make it lots of different ways…but we frequently make enough to last several days. Sometimes we make just the rice and doctor it up with other ingredients after it’s cooked, giving lots of opportunity for variety. Other times we dump all the ingredients in the rice cooker and eat the same thing for a couple of days in a row. Somehow we ended up with many meals of rice and beans. It was tasty and nutritious. It had just become boring.

The same thing happens with oatmeal or other whole-grain hot cereals we make in the cooker. So I was probably facing a breakfast of oatmeal and a lunch of rice and beans and a dinner of…something equally unexciting. (I’m not complaining, just reporting what life was like last week.) The truth is that I was bored with the food we were eating. Now don’t feel sorry for us. We cook tasty, heart-healthy meals sometimes, but when we get busy we revert to lots of leftovers. And there are many in this world for whom a daily meal of rice and beans would be a treat.

I remember very specifically walking down the stairs thinking about what we would be having for lunch and God spoke into my mind: “Not every bite needs to be a vacation in your mouth!” Hmmmm….. It got me thinking.

Many of us in America are so blessed – we can buy just about any food we want to eat whenever we want to eat it. As a nation we’ve learned that we like rich foods and really greasy foods, and it’s why our obesity rate is so high. Nearly one third of adults in the US are obese. (Yes, I am among them.) And the prevalence of obesity in adults has more than doubled in the last forty years, most of the increase occurring in the last twenty years.

I like rich, creamy foods. My favorite food (well, dessert actually) is cheese cake. My second favorite food is pizza. With lots of cheese. But God, with his one line instruction, has helped me to begin to think about food differently.

As I meditated on God’s message to me, I began to reflect on my life in general. Newsflash: Not everything I do during the day is a vacation! Instead, I work hard most days of the year so that I can enjoy a relatively few days of vacation every year. Generally, less than five percent of my days are vacation days. I don’t think I’ve ever reached ten percent in a year. Do I think that’s a lifestyle that honors God? Yes. Vacations are good for recharging our batteries, reconnecting with our families and just generally having fun, but God’s Word clearly honors working diligently.

So if about five percent of my life is spent in vacation mode, why should I view food any differently? Why should I think it honors God to eat rich foods at every meal? Why should I think it honors God to even expect “vacations in my mouth” many times a day? Or even once a week for that matter?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that healthy, nutritious meals shouldn’t taste good, but there’s a difference between a healthy-tasty meal and a rich, creamy vacation-tasty meal.

A few days after God spoke to me, I read Proverbs 23:

1 When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,

2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.

3 Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive.

Proverbs 23:1-3

I imagine a king’s table as a buffet with lots of “vacation” bites on it. Perfectly cooked meats in rich sauces. Desserts that fill your mouth before melting away. Maybe a good salad to cleanse the pallet before reaching for another vacation bite.

God says that when you sit to dine with a king, make a note of the food before you and control your eating. He goes on to say “do not crave his delicacies” because the “food is deceptive.” The food is deceptive in that it doesn’t increase our strength, as God designed it to, but it bogs us down and makes us lethargic. What God has created and provided for our health and strength, we have made into delicacies that rob us of both. The food is deceptive.

Lord, forgive me for tasting and craving the delicacies that do not give life. Forgive me for wanting every bite to be a vacation! Help me to discipline my eating habits in a way that brings You honor.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and most of us will indulge in comfort foods from our childhood. I’m looking forward to the stuffing and gravy and pumpkin pie. Enjoy! It is a vacation day! But be mindful on Friday that yesterday was one of your five or ten percent days – the vacation days for your taste buds – and not every bite needs to be a vacation in your mouth!

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