Turkey is slotted to be on the Thanksgiving table, paired with my mother in law’s famous buttery mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. The table itself looks just as good as the food prepared for it. It’s wearing its finest tablecloth and is bejeweled with shiny silverware and inherited china. Family and friends will travel for miles to be at this table. There has been a whole lot of preparation put into this day.
Now I’ve never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. The most I’ve prepared is a turkey, which I guess you can say is pretty essential. But I’m almost certain I just popped said bird into the oven until the timer went off. There wasn’t a lot of staying up half the night preparing and scheduling all of the components.
My mom and mother in law, on the other hand, have been true Thanksgiving Day warriors. Men and women like them should be richly decorated for pulling off such grand feats of kitchen prowess. It’s hard enough just getting a regular meal on the table without the smoke detector going off (which happened to me just tonight, as a matter of fact!)
Preparing healthy meals is time intensive. Anyone who has spent any time in the kitchen knows that. It is essential to take care of the physical. However, it is equally essential to take care of the spiritual. Jesus himself said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
We all know this principle, but it’s so hard to put it into practice. If I’m being completely transparent with you, I would say that what has been on our own children’s spoons sometimes takes precedence over what is fed to their hearts.
Imagine me sitting there at Thanksgiving, with my heaping plate of food. I dig in and it’s delicious. I finish my plate and go back for seconds. I feel like I’m going to pop. All the while, there sits my daughter next to me. There is nothing on her plate but four peas. She eats them carefully and slowly. She has grown accustomed to small portions, as such. Though she should be hungry, her appetite is diminished. Somehow I’ve come to think that four peas is enough for her. How much turkey can a five year old handle, anyway?
Can you just foresee the outrage of Great Grandma at this display? She would have a bird! Yet I think it probably happens more than we would like to admit in our own homes. At least, I would say that it happens in mine.
If it’s a good morning for us, we rise at the sound of our alarms. We wake to spend time in the Word and in prayer. Our kids hear us and slowly creep down the stairs. Our Bibles close. The busyness of the day ensues. Somewhere in between school and art class, we reference Jesus. We pray before dinner and bed. We read their little devotionals, if it’s not past bedtime.
Though a lot of thought has gone into our children’s dinner plates, there hasn’t been a whole lot of focused spiritual consideration. They have dined on four peas. And for some of our children, that is enough to satisfy. They are getting the foundation of a good diet. But I do have a gut feeling that many of our children are ready for more. They’re ready for the meat of the Word. They’re ready to put their faith into action. They’re ready to be true disciples, even now.
For Thanksgiving Day this year and for every day thereafter, I want to be more aware of the balance between spiritual and physical nourishment. Because, as we all know, it is a balance. Our kids need to eat what’s on their plates. And they need to be satisfied with the richest of foods, which will always be the Word of God.
This preparation will take time, no doubt. But if we are committed to raising a generation of children to follow Christ, it could not be more essential. We know they can’t live on four peas a day. After all, we’ve tried it ourselves, and it has left us as hungry as can be.
“I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” Psalm 63:4-5
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