Once I was so hungry that I stole a pack of chicken gizzards from my next-door neighbor. Hunger makes it seem as though you are completely empty inside, without any hope of ever being filled again. I cooked those gizzards so quickly, and I started eating them before they were fully ready, so they were as tough as leather, but oh so good to my aching belly! My neighbor came to ask if I had taken his meat, and I lied that I had not taken anything, even though I knew he could smell them, as the gizzards could be smelled cooking for what seemed like three city blocks!
When I compare those times with today, I can only be thankful to God that my cup overflows in ways that I never dreamed could happen. Instead of being constantly hungry, I need to lose at least ten percent of my body weight, and one of my greatest passions is finding great restaurants in places all over the world, learning about people through their food. Many people remember places from the buildings or through their souvenirs. Me, I remember the food. Who, but God, would have ever believed that a poor little black girl like me would walk the streets of Paris someday and eat croissants filled with sweetness and ever so light!
Like David in the 23rd Psalm, I have been blessed amazingly through the years. In his great psalm of praise to the Good Shepherd who provided protection, provision, and prosperity to him, he says, “The Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need” (Psalm 23:1). In a world where people seem to never tire of consuming “stuff,” it is rare to hear someone say that they have all that they need or want. I am blessed to be one of them, as my cup truly overflows with blessings unimaginable just a few years ago: a caring and loving husband, the self-sufficiency of my children, the ability to fulfill my calling through teaching, and good health.
Already commercials are full of Christmas sales, enticing people to buy, buy, buy! We are daily reminded about products that we must have to be happy with our lives. I really had hoped that the barrage of sales would not start until after Thanksgiving Day, so that everyone could stop and consider what they are thankful for this year before being shown the numerous items that they and their children do not have and really should want.
Don’t get me wrong! I love the holidays as well as the next person, especially seeing the joy in my grandchildren’s faces when they open their presents. I just believe that we need a moment to reflect on what we have received already, especially those elements in life that are free and that touch our spirits in life-affirming ways, such as the sweet sound of the birds singing in the morning, the ability to take a long walk in the forest and have our souls renewed, or watching the baby squirrels chasing each other with total abandon from tree to tree in the yard. In those moments, I can say like David, “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23: 3).
One of the benefits of an overflowing cup is that all the extra blessings flowing over the sides can be given to others. It allows us to fulfill the call that Christ Jesus makes on our lives to take care of the least among us. In Matthew 25, Jesus requires us to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and those in prison, and to invite into our homes the stranger with no place to lay his or her head. He says that when we do these things to the least among us, then we are doing them for Him. We can help other people’s cups be filled, and, in doing so, demonstrate God’s love for them.
Contentment with what we have is a lesson that humanity could use today. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4: 11-13, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” It is only when we count our blessings that we come to understand just how much our cups overflow, and, subsequently, learn to be content with what we have.
What does your cup overflow with today? How content are you with what you already have? What is your heart thankful for right this minute? If you wrote a psalm of thanksgiving to God today, what would you include in your grateful list? Read the 23rd Psalm again and be blessed!