Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On Today's Menu

This morning a friend and I walked from my house to the gym and back.  Because of the elevation of Jarabacoa, the temperature cools off significantly at night, making an early morning walk (6:10 a.m., thank you very much!) lovely, and almost chilly enough for long sleeves! 

“Look at that cow!”  Walking back from the gym we passed a field with cows grazing.  (Even though I don’t live in the country, walks here include cows, horses, chickens, roosters, the occasional man with a machete, motos filled with people, and lots and lots of dogs.) 
The cow in question was not grazing on grass, but had its head in one of the big metal barrels used here for trash.  Yep, this cow, standing in a lush, green field, was munching away… on garbage. 
I’m not really sure what the cow had found that was so tasty, but, I’m guessing whatever it was, it wasn’t premium quality cow feed!  I’m pretty sure that human garbage is not the most healthful stuff for a cow.  Having had a hamburger for dinner last night, my stomach turned a bit at the thought of the meat (or milk!) that would come from this garbage-eating bovine.

And, of course, because this is how my mind works, I immediately thought – That’s a lesson there!    How often do I seek after things that are not for me?  How often do I stand in the midst of the good gifts of God, determinedly chewing smelly, icky garbage? 
This morning I read about Solomon falling away from God.  I Kings 11, says that although God had warned the Israelites not to marry women from countries like Moab and Edom, Solomon did so.  God had plainly said “they will surely turn your hearts after their gods” (vs 2). 

Remember, this is King Solomon of ‘two mothers, one baby’ fame.  I’m sure he was confident in his ability to maintain self-control.  After all, he was the smartest man in the world!  And yet, in the end, his heart was turned, and he began building altars to false gods.
The sad fact is, we often choose to ignore God’s commands.  Like Solomon, we figure we’re smart enough to not get trapped.  Like that cow, we think, Yeah, the grass is green and plentiful, but it’s so boring.  Why should I restrict myself when this fun barrel has all kinds of new flavors?!

Perhaps with the cow’s many stomachs, ingesting some garbage won’t be a problem.  It’s possible.  And, maybe, dabbling in some not-okay stuff won’t be a big deal for you or me.  After all, we’re not ‘Solomon smart’ but we still know our limits!  Hmmm. 
In the end, Solomon ‘did evil in the eyes of the Lord’ (I Kings 11:6).  For his sin, the kingdom would soon be split in two.  I can’t imagine he started marrying those beautiful, foreign women, with their political connections, intending to ruin Israel, but that’s what happened. 

Satan isn’t stupid, and he knows that if garbage looked and smelled like, well, garbage, we’d likely pass it by.  And so, the garbage in our lives often masquerades as lovely, alluring, and pretty harmless. 
Like Solomon, our hearts can be turned when we ignore God’s good commands and choose to follow after other stuff.  Other stuff that causes kingdoms to fall, our lives to come undone.  Stuff that may cause us, too, to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. 

Yeah, I know, this may sound extreme.  But, the older I get, the more I realize that when I chase after that other stuff, my life quickly becomes smelly and icky.  Having sampled my fair share of garbage, I can honestly say that living within God's loving limits is how I have found joy and abundance, and yes, a life far outside of what I could have asked or imagined. 

On today's menu... Green grass, or Garbage.  Oh, Father, may I choose Your plan, Your limits, Your good gifts, today, and every day! 

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