Back in the early 70s in nursing school my nutrition teacher said, “No food, eaten occasionally is bad for you. Have a piece of cheesecake, a bowl of ice cream, or a fried chicken leg. It’s the excess that’s bad. Don’t eat ice cream, or cheesecake, or fried chicken every day. Moderation is the key to good health, regular meals with normal sizes, no second helpings, and one treat a day.
The African life style forced me to be moderate. No ice cream shops, bakeries or fast food. They slaughtered a cow and sold the meat on Tuesday. Fruits and vegetables were seasonal. Moderation was necessary. Food was rationed over days to last until more could be obtained.
Years later, I returned to the States to retire. Three changes shocked me. The language was horrible and blasphemous. Television stations focused on brutality and killing. Food was everywhere.
In Africa moderation had become a habit, but suddenly the tantalizing temptations everywhere were a challenge to resist. Even worse I justified it saying, “I haven’t eaten this is years.” And I gained ten pounds the first month. If I continued eating like that, I’d regret it.
Besides, I shouldn’t take my spiritual freedom to eat, drink, and do whatever I want to the extreme.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
12 M&MS Since chocolate melted in Africa or was easily ruined, I took a large bag of M&Ms with me. I planned for this candy to last a long time, so I ate 12 M&Ms a week.
I enjoyed African popcorn. And local farmers grew fabulous, inexpensive corn in which the kernels popped up big and delicious.
At the end of the week I put 12 M&Ms in the bottom of a large metal bowl and popped a huge pan of popcorn which I poured over the candy. After sprinkling some salt on it, I mixed it. Naturally the heavier M&Ms fell to the bottom of the bowl.
To enjoy this delicacy, I ate several handfuls of popcorn, and then shoved some gently aside, dug deep, and found one M&M which I put in my mouth. That warm melted chocolate with a tiny bit of salt on it was pure delight. And I don’t even care for M&Ms.
Having a few morsels of chocolate each week instead of a bar of pure chocolate became a blessing and treat I looked forward to.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything we thought we had given up as a sacrifice turned into a sweet blessing and joy from the Lord?
“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.” Deuteronomy 28:2
After I’m dressed to go out, I check my appearance in the bedroom mirror. It’s an inexpensive one and makes me look ten pounds lighter. Since it’s not real, I go to the bathroom mirror to inspect my dress but that makes me look ten pounds heavier than I am. Shaking my head, I go back to the bedroom and stare at that image. After I’ve gone back and forth about six times, I try on another outfit and go through the process again. By the third garment, I decide the first one was best.
Twenty years ago, Americans had a bad reputation in Africa for being sloppy, dressing as if they didn’t care what they looked like. I was told not to wear flip-flops to church because they were bedroom slippers, and I should dress remembering my position.
The villagers had one nice outfit that they wore on Sunday and pressed it with a charcoal iron. They dressed in that with their costume jewelry, earrings, and head scarfs, wanting to look their best for God’s house.
We spend lots of attention and time on our appearances when it isn’t that important in the vast scope of eternity. Man sees only what’s on the outside, but God looks on the heart.
“For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
It’s more important that our hearts, not our clothes be right before God.