Portion Control

Psalm 16:5:
You have assigned me my portion and my cup. You have made my lot secure. (TNIV)

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. (NLT)

My choice, is you, God, first and only and now I find I’m your choice. (The Message)

The other day my husband went to the freezer to take out some meat to thaw for dinner and he found that the door had not been shut properly and a box of popsicles had melted, spilling sticky goop onto each shelf and down the inside of the door. We both instantly knew who the culprit was that hadn’t shut the door: the grandson. In an effort to expand our trust, we have allowed him to get his own small snacks and with the recent heat, popsicles have become his favorites. Even with constant reminders, sometimes the door just doesn’t get shut tight.

Perhaps that is why when I was a kid we were never allowed to get our own treats. What we were allowed was doled out to us. Later, when we were responsible enough to close the door, we were allowed to get our own treats, but the amount and the variety was carefully controlled and monitored by our mother. Portions were rigidly adhered to: three cookies after meals; two donuts with breakfast; one small bowl of chips; or only one bowl of cereal for breakfast. The only between meal drink was water. And the clear understanding was ‘don’t ask for any more.’ I knew when I opened my sack at lunch at school that there would be a small bag of chips, a sandwich, and three cookies.

Some might have found comfort in the consistency with which we were fed. All I ever saw was what seemed like a banquet for my friends. I rebelled against this rigidity in private, eating other’s castoffs and sneaking food whenever I was able. I never interpreted the limits as love or wisdom, only as punitive, withholding and depriving. Others had more, why couldn’t I? This lack of understanding produced a distortion that unfortunately infiltrated so many areas of my life, from food to relationships to my spirituality.

At some point in my walk with the Lord, I came across Psalm 16, and found I needed to camp out on verse 5. The more I stayed there, the more I revisited and let the words penetrate deep into my heart, the more I was able to let go of the distortions that had led me into a bulimic form of existence(binging and purging, gorging and repenting). No matter what had happened when I was a child, it was and is God who assigns my portion and cup. He who created me knows what I need and he gives me exactly what I need to accomplish his purpose in my life.

As I pondered my portion for today, I was reminded of Jesus’ teaching to the disciples in what we now call The Lord’s Prayer: give us this day our daily bread. How many of my problems would cease to be problems if I would just focus on my portion and cup today? What would happen if we would acknowledge before God that we seek no more or less than what he has for us this day?

What do you need today? What do I need today? If this verse from David and Jesus’ subsequent teaching mean anything, then it isn’t up to me to decide. We typically spend a lot of time telling God what we need, and reminding him what others need as well. How would our prayers and life change if instead we prayed: “Show me what I really need so that I can be effective in all I do?”

Just as my mother knew that I didn’t need more that three cookies, God knows what this day holds and just what I will need to meet it. So I can trust and I will find that my lot is truly secure.

Day Thirteen: Routine

Do you have certain things in your routine that you just have to do or you feel disjointed or incomplete? For some, they have to read the morning paper or watch the early news first thing in the morning. Some can’t get going without their first cup of coffee. Others have a bathroom routine that is scripted down to the minute. The same can be said for how they face the things of work or how they wind down in their day.

Right before my husband and I got married we saw a movie about an ice skater who went blind. It was called “Ice Castles.” As she practiced with her partner, over and over, to drill the performance into her body, he reminded her that she could do this. As they skated out on the ice at competition, he squeezed her hand and whispered the word, “Routine.” When Nelson and I were married that is what he had engraved on the inside of my wedding band.

Now, there are some who might see that as negative or sarcastic. I mean, really, who wants their relationship to become “routine”? People are always looking for fresh and new. Manufacturers understand that and are always seeking to make their product “new and improved.” Routine typically carries with it connotations of complacency and boredom. I don’t happen to see it that way.

Having a routine helps me feel grounded and safe. I like the predictability and security of knowing what is supposed to come next. Thankfully, though, I’m not completely locked into that. Some people absolutely loose it if you change their routine. In their minds, the whole day is shot if their routine is disrupted. Somewhere along the way I developed the ability to toss my routine and be adaptable and flexible. It’s helped me survive.

I believe that God wants to offer us this balance between predictability and adaptability. We can count on him. The Word tells us that he is the same “yesterday and forever” and that he will “never leave us or forsake us.” Because we know that we learn to trust him in the “no matter whats” of life. When we are hit with an unexpected curveball in our health, finances, career, or relationships that require we adapt, we can because there is a source of stability that will get us through the uncertainty back to what feels “routine.” And it may be, that we learn to create a new “routine”, new patterns and rituals based on the new growth we experience as a result of trust.

There’s an old hymn that reminds us: “We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Fastened to the rock that cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.” As you move through your day and your daily routine, be thankful for what you can count on and open to the possibilities for growth and grace. Even an openness to new can become routine!

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