Monday, March 2, 2009
Split Pea Soup
Matthew 6:16-19 (The Message)
“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well. ”
I hate Split Pea Soup.
Why would you split a pea anyway?
The Lenten Season has begun. As I reflect on this season I realize that my wife is more disciplined than me and has a better grasp on the Lenten season than I do. She is the one who invited friends over and prepared the Lenten meal of Split Pea Soup the Friday after Ash Wednesday. When I heard of her dinner plans, I responded like a child in the grocery store that was told by his mother that he could not have the candy that was conveniently located at his eye level. It was pathetic. I was pathetic. My flesh is in control, or at least fights to be.
I want steak.
I started right this Ash Wednesday with a fast. I do not tell you this to get a reward, or so that you will think that I am “so spiritual.” I tell you this because it is relevant to the subject at hand. This fast was the first time in a long time that I had fasted. This Lenten meal was only two days from my fast on Wednesday, the day I had control over my body and my focus on Christ. Two days later, I threw this tantrum over the Split Pea Soup. You would have thought that I would have learned something or that I would have gained some ground, but no. Sin runs wild in me and rears its ugly head. “My spirit is indeed willing, but my flesh is weak.”
Fasting and abstinence denies the body and points to a God that is bigger than you are. It points to a God that you can trust for your provisions and true spiritual food. Fasting and abstinence puts life, especially the Christian life, into perspective.
In the end, the Split Pea Soup reminded me of how lucky I have been for so long enjoying whatever food that I wanted and whenever I wanted it. Some people eat worse than Split Pea Soup every day and are thankful for it. They would do anything for the green slosh that I was partaking of on Friday and they would have enjoyed it immensely. I am a fortunate and blessed person. I am rich.
I was talking to a friend the other day that is from this area, Northern Virginia. We were talking about poverty and how someone close to him was worrying about it. I made the comment almost instinctively that “We don’t know what poverty is around here.” This is so true. Here I was thinking poverty was the Split Pea Soup. How wrong I am.
The thought that I am pondering here is abstinence and fasting.
What is the purpose of the two? Why would someone abstain and fast?
Perspective, this is my answer to the question, “Why abstain and why fast?” When we abstain and fast everything about ourselves, our sinful condition, and the character and power of God is put into perspective. We realize something about who we are and who God is. We realize what we have and what we do not have. We realize our riches and our frailty that exist so seamlessly and paradoxically together. We see our selfishness and our need for the power and strength of God. We realize our brokenness in our fasting and abstaining.
I enjoyed the Split Pea Soup, but not without a fight. I missed completely the concept that my wife was trying to help me with about abstaining and fasting with a simple Lenten meal. The resolution to us having the soup and me coming along with this in harmony was that I got to choose the dessert. I chose Oreo Cream Pie. So there we sat at dinner on Friday night with a humble and fitting Lenten meal and an out of place self indulgent dessert. This about sums up my human and sinful condition for me and just how far I am off the mark.
This was a Lenten Meal that I will never forget and I am drawn deeper to Christ through it.
So, why would someone split a pea anyway?
Because they can? . . . Because they should? . . . Because they cook faster that way. . .
Realizing how much of me there is to deny,
Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Mt 6:16-18