Friday, February 6, 2015

Food, Glorious Food

Here is evidence of a loving God: food tastes good.

God didn't have to make food taste good. He was not beholden to us in that way. Just because the intake of nourishment is required for our survival does not mean He had to make this intake a pleasant experience. It could have been accomplished with something as dry and boring as popping a pill. Or with something as uncomfortable as an IV -- or even more painful than that. Our food that we eat could be tasteless and bland, or even foul and distasteful, something we have to force ourselves to consume to continue to live.

But God didn't do that. He made food, and he made food delicious. He made the nourishment process one that not only satisfies our stomachs but also satisfies our tongues. He made food taste good.

Now, I know what a lot of you are saying, because it's what I would be saying if I clicked on a random post and read the above paragraphs. "Yeah, but it's all the food that's BAD for me that tastes good. The healthy food sucks!" But that's not necessarily so. That's only because of what we sinful little boogers have done to our taste buds. You can't fault God for that.

I have a friend who grew up in Albania. She craves vegetables and fruit. Seriously. LOVES them. When I give her my customary gift of a bag of caramel popcorn at Christmastime, she thanks me graciously and puts it out for her American husband and children to eat. Not that she doesn't like sweet stuff (she makes a mean baklava), but she can only eat so much of it. And she doesn't have the craving for it, or for the fatty stuff, that we Americans do. Her taste buds were trained well from early on. She eats like we were meant to eat (and you can tell by looking at her).

So, yeah, believe it or not, healthy food tastes good if we eat like we're supposed to eat.

God was also good to make the nourishment process something that satisfies not only our bodies but also our souls. Case in point: we have to sit to eat. I mean, yes -- it's possible to shove food down our throats while running around doing laundry, diapering babies, and responding to emails (and many people do). But we all know that eating on the run is not good for us, digestively or otherwise. Eating requires at least one free hand to do the shoving, and it is much more efficiently done with two hands and in a seated -- or at least stationary -- position.

So, this need for physical nourishment also requires us to take two or three breaks during the day. Which are also good for us.

And since those breaks are required of every human being, and since they tend to come for all of us at similar times during the day, those breaks tend to become a social time. The standard practice in most cultures that I'm aware of is to eat with other people. Meals are for feeding our spirits with social connection as much as for feeding our cells with nutrients.

Again, God didn't have to make any of this work the way He did. Feeding ourselves could have been a lonely, miserable, even painful ordeal that we had to endure on a daily basis. Instead, he made it very pleasurable -- pleasurable enough even to be tempting as an idol in our lives. He was willing to risk that potential competition for our hearts to give us something that gives us joy.

He doesn't NEED to be that kind to us. He just is. It seems He wants us to enjoy our brief stay in this world. We should probably be more grateful for that.

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