Eating Broccoli

“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10b

I like broccoli. Really. But I couldn’t say that when I was two (back to this in a moment).

When I first read this verse and pondered what it was saying (or trying to say), the thought that came to my mind was, “What a strange thing for God to say”. But when I thought about it, two pictures came to mind (which is probably what the Psalmist was trying to get me to do). In one I picture I saw a nest of baby birds eagerly awaiting the “feast” (probably worms) that their mother would bring home to them. As soon as she lands at the nest, all of their mouths are W I D E open to receive whatever she has for them (again, worms). In another picture I saw a kid in a high chair (actually it was me in a flashback) who is also eagerly awaiting the feast that is coming for them. But, unlike the nest of baby birds, I am unwilling to eat the broccoli that was set before me because I didn’t like it. Sometimes I liked what was set in front of me (Jell-O, pudding, ice cream), but after a while, my tastes developed and I began to favor the Jell-O food group over most vegetables. Despite my parents arguments trying to convince me of the nutritional value of broccoli and the benefits broccoli would give me when I got older, I still insisted on not eating it. Eventually I would eat it, but not all of it because it usually ended up on the floor, the ceiling or the wall (problem solved).

In the context of Psalm 81, the psalmist is encouraging Israel to remember God and the things He has done for them in the past and what He will do for them in the future if they follow Him. He delivered them from slavery (v. 5-7) and promises to deliver them in the future (v. 14) and to satisfy them with good things (v. 16). Unfortunately, Israel did not listen to God and became stubborn (v. 11-12). They did not “open wide” their mouths and let God fill them. God laments over Israel’s choice not to follow Him (v. 8, 10-11). Now they must bear the consequence of their disobedience, which is separation from Him and subjugation by their enemies (v. 12-15). What was their problem? Obviously, we have the gift of hindsight and can clearly point to the fact that the nation of Israel had a severe trust issue with God and did not see Him as the solution to their problems and therefore turned to other things, people and ideas around them to find fulfillment and peace. But lets put ourselves in their place …

Which of the two pictures best represents you? Do you eagerly await the wonderful things (spiritual and physical) that God has for you, or do you become impatient and take for yourself the things (spiritual and physical) that the world offers? Do we walk in the ways of contentment with God, or do we walk in the ways of Israel? In all honesty, if we compared what God offers to what the world offers, we would see that what the world offers is often shinier, faster, sleeker and just plain cooler. But upon closer inspection, we would find that these things are made of plastic. They are fakes. They don’t last. They are imitations and feeble attempts to duplicate what God offers. And deep down, we all know this. We all know that we should listen to our parents and eat our lima beans, eggplant, squash and stuffed peppers (feel free to insert your own gross veggies here), but we have found that there are other things out there that aren’t as good for us, but they taste better to us.

What God offers is good for us and it is eternal. It benefits us and those around us. We often can’t see the end results and for us that requires a lot of patience. We need to wait in eager expectation, much like those baby birds in the nest who completely trust their mother to feed them with good things. They don’t sniff the food or poke at it, they don’t throw it at each other or the walls and they don’t ask, “what’s this?”. They simply trust that what they are getting is the best. Do we trust God with what He gives us? Can we wait for God to come and feed us? Much like Israel, I believe that God laments over our choices not to wait for Him and to take what the world offers. Are we able to open wide our mouths, so that God can fill it with good things? What kind of people would we be if we waited on God to fill us?

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