A Place at the Table: Day 12

Monday – Readjusting from yesterday’s feast has been tough.  My hunger throughout the day has been sharp at times, though I have had more food at my disposal.  Part of it, I’m almost sure, is simply shifting out of the feasting mindset.

My peanut butter and banana sandwich tasted great this morning.  I’ve missed those. I ate it around 11:00am, hoping to be able to save lunch until around 2:00pm.  I got close to that goal.  Lunch was rice with green beans, broth, and the last of the chicken from last week’s food run. I forgot to soak the chickpeas last night, so there was no way to try to fix them this morning.  That last piece of chicken was a blessing.

Nevertheless, I was dragging for most of the afternoon.  I gave in and had a cup of coffee with my wife when I ran home briefly after my office hours.  Once again, I felt guilty – but not too guilty.  I suppose I justified it as helping me get an afternoon’s work done – which it certainly did.  Also the opportunity to have coffee with my wife on a weekday afternoon doesn’t present itself everyday, and there is great value in that.  It was a wonderful thing and the world would be a better place if we all had coffee with our spouses more often.

I’m sure all this handwringing over coffee is starting to get to some of you who follow this blog.  It’s starting to get to me.   It may not seem like a big deal to you – and it may not be.  It’s just a cup of coffee, after all.  But it’s a cup of coffee outside of my fasting budget, and that budget is the Lenten course I’ve set for myself.  Having that extra cup of coffee (especially when it isn’t brewed from the clearance coffee bag that I purchased with my fasting allowance) seems to me like taking a shortcut during a marathon.  It’s certainly reverting back to an attitude of expecting to have what I want when I want it.  Still, the goal of this particular marathon isn’t to “win”; it’s to learn during the race.  So, when does the fast start to become an idol rather than a discipline?  And when does fear of idolizing the fast become an excuse not to stick with the fast as a discipline?  As I said earlier, God and I still have work to do on this one.  I’ll just try not to devote so much space to it here.

Lord, teach me to walk the line between enjoying the blessings of this life and (unwittingly) turning those blessings into idols.  Help me also to learn to walk the line between righteousness and self-righteousness.  Amen.

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