Last summer my mom and her best friend were visiting us to escape the path of a hurricane. You see, they live on the east coast of Florida, and for a time, it was looking like they were in the direct path of the storm. After much pleading on my part, they finally agreed to evacuate and stay with us until the storm passed.
Something you should know about my mom is this: she doesn’t want to be a burden or cause any inconvenience to anyone at any point. This includes when she visits family, so much so that she often brings up “provisions” to help out. She’ll bring things like extra toilet paper, cereal, fresh fruits, and potato chips, for example. This time was a little different, only because the storm could very well knock out power at her house, so in addition to the usual items, she brought up a lot of perishables: frozen items, fresh cheeses, meats, and fresh vegetables, etc. Her friend did the same. Suddenly we had a fridge full of food to feed our family for a week or more.
One of the more interesting contributions brought with them was a plethora of boiled eggs. I guess they figured they’d be less likely to break and make a mess if they were boiled. If we were going to eat these eggs and prevent them from going bad, we were going to have to get creative. Mom’s friend, Sue, made deviled eggs, sliced eggs for salads, and I made egg salad sandwiches. We were desperate, as egg salad is not my go-to choice for lunch time food. But we got creative and tried to make the most of it.
While I made the egg salad for lunch one day, my mom shared with us a story about her very first job when she moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan as a young woman, fresh out of high school. She moved there from the panhandle of Florida to live with her older brother and figure out what she would do with her life. Seeing a sign for a waitress position open at a nearby diner, she applied, fibbed about having waitressing experience, and got the job.
It was very evident to her boss within serving the first customer that she had never done this before. The giveaway: she left the bill right-side up on the table. Her boss calmly explained to her, “I don’t know where you’ve been a waitress before, but here we place the ticket upside-down.”
“Oh, I knew that. I just forgot,” she bluffed.
Knowing she wasn’t experienced, but also too kind to throw out a young girl who obviously needed the money, her boss allowed her to stay. He was even so kind as to allow her to order whatever she wanted from the menu for free while she was working. That was pretty generous of him, and he placed no restrictions on her choices. For a skinny young girl whose family’s humble meals consisted of collard or turnip greens, field peas, cabbage, tomatoes, beans, or whatever subsistence crops they grew served with cornbread or biscuits, and no meat unless it was a chicken on Sundays, this must’ve seemed like a feast of endless options. Burgers, deli sandwiches, blue plate specials, French fries… what couldn’t she order? Coming of age in the 1950s, hamburgers were her very favorite indulgence food.
Here was the funny thing, though, that my mom shared with us as she relayed the memories of this time in her life: although she could order whatever she wanted from the menu, at no cost to her, she dined on the same thing every day: an egg salad sandwich. The reason? She thought it would be too much to ask for if she ordered anything else. In spite of the fact that her employer expressly granted her her choice of anything they served, she settled for egg salad.
Hearing my mother tell this story stopped me in my tracks. I wondered: how often do we approach the blessings of God this way? God, our loving, heavenly Father, has flung His arms open wide before a smorgasbord of blessings. It is available to any of His children, “whosoever will”. He willingly and generously offers through the Holy Spirit an abundance of the following:
reconciliation with Him and others
strength to face any battle
The list goes on and on! God says to us to take every bit we need and want from all of it! Again and again! God places no limits on what He is willing to give to us as His children.
How often do we as believers, His children, place restrictions on what we will accept? How often do we settle for the blandness of boiled eggs and mayonnaise?
Look at Exodus 34:5-9 to gain some insight into what I mean: Then the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with Moses as he proclaimed the Name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; but He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers upon the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers].” Moses bowed to the earth immediately and worshiped [the Lord]. And he said, “If now I have found favor and lovingkindness in Your sight, O Lord, let the Lord, please, go in our midst, though it is a stiff-necked (stubborn, rebellious) people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your possession.”
In these verses we can observe two interesting parts of the interaction. First, see what God is offering: His compassion, grace, patience or long-suffering with His people, lovingkindness, faithfulness, mercy, and forgiveness of sin. This isn’t only for those currently living among the Israelites, but for their children, grandchildren, and beyond. Not only that, but the Lord proclaims justice for His people for generations as well. Amazing, right? How generous! But then look at what Moses dares to ask for on top of this extravagant gift. After worshipping, Moses is so bold as to ask God to go in the very midst of the people and take them as His possession. And guess what? God does. He reconfirms His covenant with the people.
Another example of some of the offerings of God can be found in Psalm 86:5. For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our sins, sending them away, completely letting them go forever and ever]; And abundant in lovingkindness and overflowing in mercy to all those who call upon You.
David here reminds us that God is eager to completely let go of our sins, not because we deserve it, but because of His goodness. Mercy is God's act of not giving us the punishment we actually deserve because of our sin. We see that God isn’t stingy with His mercy either. Here it says that He gives overflowing mercy! He doesn’t sit hard-hearted until we clean ourselves up first. He extends forgiveness readily and abundantly to anyone who asks Him for it.
And see John 10:10: The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].
Jesus clearly tells us that He comes to enable us to live and enjoy life totally to the max (Excuse the 80’s Valley Girl slang, but this is how it resonates with me)! If He was willing to give up His life to provide the way for us to have and enjoy life to the fullest, why on earth would we settle for less?
Another example is seen in 1 John 3:1, which says, See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! Some versions use the phrase “lavished upon us” for the word “shown” in the beginning of that verse, and add the word “really” in the phrase to be “And so we REALLY are!” at the end of the verse.
God’s desire is to offer us unlimited supply of His love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. God imparts, through His sending of the Holy Spirit into each of us, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal.5:22-23). How often is our vision clouded by unbelief or weak-tea faith in God’s desire to see us live in the fullness of His grace? How often do we turn down this amazing gift to settle for a fraction of what He is willing to lavish upon us, or worse, to settle for a cheap imitation of God’s goodness so that we won’t come off as a bother to Him, an inconvenience, as asking too much?
In the midst of an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord, with filet mignon, lobster, caviar, and endless treats and sweets, have you been settling for an egg salad sandwich? I encourage you to be willing to do as the Psalmist wrote, “O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good.” God, in His generous love for us, is willing to give you His all.