Have you ever heard the suggestion that it is not good to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach? The reason is, when we’re hungry, we end up buying things not on our list — filling our basket with an assortment of goods that we think will satisfy our appetites, and end up costing our pocketbooks more.
I was thinking recently, how true this is in other ways, too. This is not only a monetary issue, as it is a spiritual one.
Hear me out.
You know how it is, you run into the store for just a few things, your arms or basket brimming with the things you know you needed, your mind focused on all that you still want to fit into your day once your errand is complete.
You’re proud of yourself. You made it past the cookie aisle without venturing in, even for a peek. You didn’t dilly dally in the frozen desserts. You might have scooped up an avocado or cantaloupe, and you give yourself kudos for your healthy choices as you find the shortest check-out line.
And then it happens. You are stuck there, waiting. Your progress is stopped.
It doesn’t help that as you look to your right, the magazines beckon you to scan the covers, all celebrating famously photo shopped bodies as they fall into or out of love. There are award winners, reality stars, and one-hit wonders, all who have managed to attain fame, fortune, and lives that appear for the camera to have it all.
If this is not enough, to your left, the candy bars, the convenience-sized containers of Pringles, or a new flavor of gummy bear scream at you, breaking you down. You force yourself to look straight ahead, at the shoes of the customer in front of you, or at your phone.
All you want to do is check-out, get home, and get into your comfy clothes.
It’s a strange analogy, but honestly — this, to me, is such a microcosm of life.
Here you are, doing the right things. You work, you care for your family, you stretch your dollars and keep the lights on. You endure the things that come at you, challenge you, change you…. You choose to walk by faith, even though it is not always easy. You are not perfect, but you know that you are living right.
The check-out aisle is like the world that wants you to compare your life to others. If only you had a body like that. If only you knew the right people, had a lucky break, a guy who would throw you a surprise, dream vacation like the one smiling on the cover with the perfect Hollywood tan and straight white teeth.
You look at your basket with your frozen pizza and dog food and think, “Wow, my life is so boring.”
The discrepancy beats at you like a drum inside your head as you know outside in the parking lot, it’s not a limo that is waiting for you, but a mom car with an engine light on. And, since you just got paid, you decide to soothe your ilk with a chocolate caramel something-or-other and reach for it, giving it a nonchalant toss into your cart.
What harm could a little taste do? We all deserve a treat once in a while, right?
When our faith is hungry, we run into the danger of thinking we are not enough. We think we are missing out, not doing something right. We think things should be easier, we should have something - a gift, a look, a way about us that people will love us back.
If we follow God, we should have fewer problems, heartaches, and cellulite. We should be happy. But that’s not how faith or life works.
The tempter comes in all kinds of ways. He feeds us high-calorie thoughts of comparison and all the “fun” that others are having living life in the fast lane. But behind the facade of Anything Goes, people hunger for substance. Think about that the next time you hear of some famed individual who has taken his life, is back in rehab, or wrecking his Porsche and arrested for DWI.
The appetite for peace and true meaning can only be fulfilled in Him.
God wants to fill us up by His spirit. He celebrates us, blesses us, nourishing us in a prosperity of unconditional love and expectancy that He is working all things out for our good. Yes, we fall sometimes. We sin. We may even stray. But God is a good father who is always waiting for us with open arms. He loves us back to life.
It’s not easy sometimes to ignore what the world wants to feed us. But we can know that if we seek Him, taking in the daily bite-sized nutriments of gratefulness, of humility, of grace, He will fortify us and grow our faith so that the temptation to sin is overcome by His mercy. Our lives are richer in Him than anything the world could possibly offer.
God will not leave us unfulfilled. He will fill our baskets to overflowing. Trust Him, even in the check-out line.