For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
I want my children to love gardening. This year, to encourage their interest in watching things grow, I gave them their own garden. I bought them each a colorful little bucket and let them paint the outside. Then we drilled some drainage holes and filled it with potting soil. We spent a Saturday morning making tiny finger imprints in the soil and filling them with seeds. Now each morning the kids help me water the sprouts in their garden as they sit in the sun on our kitchen table.
They both love watering. Probably because the little antique mister we use is also colorful and just the kind of gizmo that kids love to play with. I have no trouble getting them to help. In fact they like it a little too much. If I leave the mister on the table, I will find the kids giving our seedlings a generous deluge. So far we’ve had no casualties but this offers an opportunity to talk about balance. I try to explain to the kids how some things can be healthy and necessary in certain amounts but can be unhealthy, even detrimental, in others – that too much of almost anything can be bad.
I have thought about this a lot over the past several weeks. Now that the season of Lent is coming to an end, it is time to begin taking stock of what was learned. I have found that there are many pleasures we enjoy in moderation that can be deleterious if overindulged. I have also discovered, as I do every year, that giving things up is hard, even the things that seem like they ought to be easy.
I have considered addictive foods like caffeine and sugar, and have begun to reflect on the place they hold in my life. Even though I have long joked about my “addiction” to morning coffee, I am beginning to realize that the dependence is more real that I enjoy thinking about. Probably the same is true for sweets. And if I can’t give them up as simply as I thought I could, what exactly does that mean for me and for my faith?
There are many things in our lives that can enslave us. Some we know to battle against. Some, we dive into willingly. In many cases, we are unaware of the power these things can have over us. We become aware when they have a serious effect on our lives – as in the case of nicotine or alcohol – but we remain happily unaware of the hold that soda, coffee or other foods may have on us; not to mention other addictions such as work, shopping, sports etc. Without serious health consequences to wake us up, we may remain oblivious to the fact that we are slaves.
Like the apostle Paul, I would like to be slave to nothing except God in Jesus Christ. I would like to be free from the sin and disease of addiction, however subtle or benign that addiction may appear. I do not want to be a slave to compulsion but would like to be my own master, second in line only to God.
As I watch the sprouts of our Thumbelina carrots grow, I am reminded of all that God provides for our health – and that health is only maintained by bringing into our system what is nourishing and whole. I was careful in buying potting soil, seed starter, plant food that would be good for our plants, for us and for the environment. May we all be equally vigilant in choosing what comes into our lives, food or otherwise. To what are you a slave?
May you eat what is blessed!