Yesterday was Matt’s birthday. Thursday is the Feast Forum. You know what that means? It means it is officially here: Eating Season!
I have to admit I love eating season and hate eating season. Looking back, I think the love-hate relationship I have with food originated when I was a kid. My family never had much, never lived with extras or excess – except when it came to food. We always had more than enough to eat and we learned to eat in abundance. Some of my favorite childhood memories include more aunts, uncles and cousins than I can count and an amazing buffet of food – lots of delicious homemade food – like fried chicken, ham, potatoes, gravy (always gravy), and cobblers and pies of every variety.
Those of you who know me now know where I learned to get my eattin’ on. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I can out eat most people I know. Eating lunch with the likes of Amy Starr, Matt Gordon and Ian Franz makes me look like Shrek eating with the Three Blind Mice. It’s my cross to bear.
It wasn’t until the summer I turned 16 that I began to hate my love for food. Literally overnight I must have gained 20 pounds and jumped two pant sizes. Of course, puberty played a role in the drama of the summer of 1988, but at the time I didn’t realize it. All I knew is that the nickname “Stork” that had plagued me all life no longer seemed fitting. I began to realize that I no longer could eat whatever my heart desired, and I didn’t like it. (I still don’t for that matter.)
College came and with it, at least half of the freshman 15. Then came babies and a transformation where I didn’t even recognize my body. And I certainly didn’t like it! But I still loved food and hated myself for it.
It has taken the better part of 20 years to reconcile this food issue, but it honestly continues to be a daily struggle. And when the eating season begins, I am reminded of my vulnerability to become legalistic with food. I have been known to allow my will power and discipline to define my value. I have slept less to exercise more, so I can ultimately eat more. Then I get tired and fussy. The entire situation makes me easily agitated and if I’m not careful, the joyous holiday season becomes my worst nightmare. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one who suffers with these or similar issues, whether it’s eating too much or drinking to excess.
So what helps bring me to a healthy place where I can enjoy the good gifts that the holiday season offers? Reminding myself of what God’s truth says about food, fellowship and His provision for both. Deuteronomy 12: 7 tells us that a meal is more than eating in God’s economy, “And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.” The meal is meant to be an ever-present reminder of our daily need to feast, both physically and spiritually. God created our bodies to need daily nourishment. He even equipped us with an elaborate digestive system and five senses to make the process of eating enjoyable. In God’s economy, the table is a place where we should come to be mindful of God’s blessings, propelling our thankfulness and resulting in joy.
Author Beth Moore says that when we approach the table as sacred, and if we remember we are eating before the Lord, it can change everything. It can point to Christ as our ultimate source for all good things, including the food before us and the fellowship of those around the table with us. He created us to need both and desires us to sit at the table, taste every bite and enjoy it in the company of others. We were meant to follow the example of Jesus, who was often found eating with others around a table and feasting with a group.
So as we move full throttle into the Eating Season, may we all “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” And be a testimony that “How happy is the blessed person who rests in Him.” (Psalms 34:8)
Happy Thanksgiving and let the eating begin.