By Jerry Ousley
The other day we
had a family dinner. The weather was perfect. The sun was
shining, the wind was calm and the day was warm. We set chairs
and tables under our carport, put a tent up over the picnic
table and moved the swing out under the trees in the yard and
really it was a picture perfect setting. It was a pitch in
dinner and as the guests arrived they came with bowls, dishes
and crock pots full of steaming aromatic delicacies that tempted
the senses. I almost felt like one of those cartoon characters
lifted into the air and floating in the trail of the scent of a
There was a lot of good food there. Chili, fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, salads of all kinds and desserts that seemed almost sinful to eat, graced the table. It was a fat man's paradise (at least this fat man's). We prayed over the food and formed a line smorgasbord-style and enjoyed pleasant conversation as the line moved ever closer to those delectable treats to be found on the table.
It was finally my turn and as I perused the selections it seemed I had to sample a little of everything; after all, you don't want to take a chance of hurting someone's feelings because you didn't have some of what they slaved over in the kitchen. That would make them feel unappreciated. So by the time I arrived at the end of the table my plate was nearly spilling over. They just don't make plates big enough, you know?
I sat down and began enjoying my fair share of those wonderful foods. It felt good going into my stomach because Deb and I hadn't eaten much that day in order to save room for the dinner we had planned. I was in culinary heaven for a while anyway. Now I've always been in the habit of eating everything on my plate. I mean, think of all those starving children in, well you could name a lot of countries. It was sinful to throw food away. That's our justification anyhow. So I ate it all. But by the time I finished, my stomach was so full it hurt. It was a chore to get up from my seat to throw away the Styrofoam plate. Then I felt ashamed. I had indulged in gluttony. I had put too much on my plate and now there was a price to pay.
What I should have done was not load up my plate with more than I should eat in the first place. In a way we're all guilty of that at times aren't we? Most people who are considered to be responsible have "more on their plate than they can swallow" these days. How often I have asked, "Why didn't God give us a thirty-six hour day instead of just twenty-four?" Thinking about that over the years, I have realized it was only by His mercy that He limited our days to twenty-four hours. If we had thirty-six, we'd only fill them up too and probably kill ourselves in the process.
Now, I'm as guilty as the next guy is, but what we need to learn is to "not fill that plate up so much." That's much easier said than done. However, if we don't find a way, our bodies will. God is good and God is gracious, but we sometimes over-extend ourselves in our zeal to do something for Him. He doesn't want us to just sit down and do nothing, but He does want us to seek His will, and follow His course.
After all, Jesus did say, "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30). That means that He has work for us to do, but not to the extremes we sometimes make it. Let's remember that the next time we start stacking up our plate.
Jerry D. Ousley is the Author of three books, "Soul Challenge", "Soul Journey" and "Ordeal." Listen to our daily broadcast Spirit Bread. Find out more by visiting www.spiritbread.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org