We sat in front of the T.V. on Saturday afternoon, flipping channels, wasting time, and landed on the food channel. You know the one. The channel where either a food artist works a decadent act of chemistry on a white, ceramic, canvas disk, making your mouth water and making you wish you were the artist in your own kitchen. Or you watch other people traveling around savoring the prepared art of someone else in order to make a fair judgment about it, which always seems to be a pleasant one they can’t resist.
On this day we watched the latter. A man traveling around from city to city indulging in wonderful food in quaint hidden towns and hole-in-the-wall secrets.
My mouth, too, began to water, and I wondered what great food I could be missing right here where I live.
Then my mind flashed back.
Back to that trip six months ago deep in the bush of Africa.
The women starting preparing our dinner at two o’clock in the afternoon. They started with cutting the cabbage as the chicken ran around them for one last time.
Four hours later dinner was served. Some men brought benches over for us to sit on to eat. They had a few forks for us, too, but not for everyone.
In the pitch black night the rest of the village sat over on the other side of the hut, away from us, as we ate. There was no thought of them ever eating with us. That was simply unspeakable. So they waited until we were finished.
Whatever was left would be theirs. First the men, then the women, then the children would eat. In that order. If there was no food left, then the children would go hungry that night. That’s the way it is. A man is more valuable than a child. After all, how would the family get food if the father died?
Just recently I was listening to a sermon by someone. I don’t remember his name because I have several podcasts downloaded. The pastor told a story about traveling to another country and seeing the people in that culture literally bow down and worship statues and sculptures and things. Just like the golden calf in the Old Testament. “Who still worships objects?” he thought. How ridiculous that seemed.
Then a woman from that country came to America. He asked her, “How do you like America?” assuming she would love it. Who wouldn’t?
“I hate it”, she said. “There is so much idolatry. People worship their stomachs here.”
His point was the hypocrisy in both his heart and the woman’s heart. And the realization that we are a very idolatrous nation even in the most concealed ways.
I watched that Saturday afternoon the man on the food channel full of enthusiasm and smiles almost panting as he traveled from place to place trying different cuisines and variations of food, and my heart began to ache.
God gave me His eyes for those few hours there in the Bush, and I brought them back with me to the Land of the Free. I cannot hide behind oblivion because I’ve seen it with my own eyes, with my own soul.
No longer may I fully enjoy all that’s around me, but then again should I? Or should I view it from His perspective? Is all of this stuff really a blessing? Or is it more of a curse, keeping us further from Him?
I don’t know the answers. I want a clear-cut line, but there’s not one. I want to accept His blessings with open hands for what they are – grace-filled gifts, but I don’t want to be deceived into thinking they’re blessings when they’re not.
Africa may have ruined my fun of sitting and watching the food channel, but it opened my heart to His and made me think about making abundance my God. I’ll leave the line up to Him.
How do you view abundance? How do you view idolatry? Share with me in the comments. I would love to hear from you.