People who say “everything in moderation” aren’t thinking it through. Ingesting gasoline or wearing fire ants “in moderation” isn’t wise. Having said that, desiring balance does often mean we seek moderation.
Going home for Christmas this past December reminded me of the difficulties of moderation. For us suburban family members, ruined by the limitations of electric heat, it took a few days to acclimate to wood and coal, which is very effective yet hard to moderate. Christmas sweaters frothed a person into a constant sweat, and woe to those of us openly experiencing hormonal hot flashes. (We nearly burst into flames!) Years ago my cousin and her newly wedded husband had to occupy the same room as her parents because every bed was full. Adding to the discomfort, it was also the room the stove pipe ran through. Back in those days I think we burned bituminous coal and in order to get the downstairs comfortable, we stoked that old Warm Morning stove until the pipes almost glowed…and heat rises. Now picture my cousin’s city-slicker groom upstairs in the hot stovepipe room, under a couple Swiss wool “comforters” dealing with the various sleep sounds of his nearby in-laws. When he was no longer able to suffer in silence, he declared in a fever pitch “It’s like sleeping on the surface of the sun!”
Sometimes we strive for moderation, but things can easily get out of hand…apparently like my food intake. Recent blood work showed climbing numbers and my doctor said I had to make a change. I told her I was pretty sure I was already in one but she didn’t see the humor. So this new year I’m supposed to exercise and eliminate certain foods. There are interesting methods of weight loss trending like the social media sensation where a Chinese woman bends her torso back and forth while chanting to rhythmic music. Another one says you’re supposed to tap yourself in the face and armpits to achieve weight loss “through emotional freedom”. But I figured I’d better avoid these, however tempting. If Jeff came around the corner and saw me gyrating, and chanting while tapping my arm pits, it might be the final straw.
One of the foods I’m supposed to stay away from is bread and it breaks my heart. Bread and I have always been good friends-- it’s even biblical! Jesus is described as the Bread of Life, and in the perfect storm God had it rain down bread from Heaven (Exodus 16:4) Another favorite bread story is found in 1 Kings 17. Elijah is hiding near a brook and supplied with bread and meat delivered daily by ravens! And when the brook dried up, God had Elijah visit a widow to sustain him. The widow was so poor she was preparing a last meal for her and her son. Regardless, Elijah asked her to prepare him bread and water and assured her that her pantry would never go empty. She did as he asked and they indeed had bread until the drought was over. In fact, God further rewarded her obedience and hospitality in another way ---her son became ill and died and when Elijah begged God to restore him, God poured out His love in excess and did so. Excess is defined as the lack of moderation.
We too are the recipient of God’s excess love—from Him coming to Earth as a baby in Bethlehem (which literally means House of Bread) to His taking our place on the cross, and providing everyday guidance and comfort from the Holy Spirit. “Everything in moderation” becomes less of a mantra depending on what we are focused on. This new year may we avoid what’s bad for us, trust God to provide during the dry spells, and be obedient so we might fully experience His lavish love…because there are some things we don’t want in moderation.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel