This past weekend our church started a new message series based on Micah 6:8..."What does the Lord require of you? Do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with God." This powerful video was shown and I encourage you to take the time to watch it.
The takeaway from the first message of the series was that with our overwhelming access to information, we clearly are not ignorant about the need in the world, but we tend to ignore our responsibility to respond. A question that I have asked myself before is "Why am I so lucky?" and the answer is that God has blessed me to be a blessing to others. And I have not lived up to my potential. While we can't do everything, we CAN do something. And we must.
We were summoned this week to participate in a 5 day meal challenge in which we would eat like the poor to help change our perspective of world hunger. As it said in the video, half the world lives on $2/day or less. The weekly grocery bill for my small family of four is typically over $100. We eat convenience foods, processed foods, fresh foods not in season and coming from all over the world, whatever meat or fish our hearts desire, decadent desserts and fine wines all without giving it much thought aside from staying within our (generous) budget. So this week is different. This week Big Richard (herein simply "BR") and I are drinking tap water and eating rice and beans....
Day One of the challenge was relatively uneventful. Going off of the "allowed foods" list of oatmeal, beans/lentils, rice/millet (millet- really?), cornmeal, tortillas, and water, we started the day with oatmeal and had 1-cup portions of rice and beans for both lunch and dinner. At dinner we allowed ourselves one small piece of cornbread. While we didn't go to bed hungry by any means, we did go to bed realizing that a day without sweets (me), meat (BR) and coffee (both of us) was no fun at all.
Day Two so far has been more challenging. This morning I ate a handful of Honey Nut Cheerios without realizing my mistake, and later two animal crackers were sacrificed before it occurred to me what I was doing. But harder than resisting the food is simply drinking tap water and nothing else....JavaMama needs some java! Or just some milk! Two days into the challenge and I am more acutely aware of how much snacking and sipping I do throughout the day and how much FOOD is readily available. Driving down the highway today, I noticed in a different way the exits marked for coffee shops, fast food, convenience stations, and pharmacies. We live in a world of abundance where everything we need or want is at our fingertips. Even when money seems tight, the stark difference in our lives compared to the world's super-poor is overwhelming.
Tonight's dinner plan is again rice and beans, maybe this time wrapped in a tortilla. BR and I already talked last night about incorporating the rice and beans into our weekly menu as a way to remind us of this experiment and to symbolically align ourselves with the "least of these".....it is humbling to realize how insignificant this is in the face of those who have no other option. Even knowing that we are doing this for just a few days makes it easier to stick to it because there is an end in sight. But even two days in, I know that this is going to have some surprising outcomes. One unexpected gem is how the simple menu has simplified my life. Sunday night I lovingly prepared a big pot of rice and beans in anticipation of these five days, packed it all up in 1 cup portions, and aligned them nicely in our refrigerator. So we had three days' worth of lunch and dinners all ready to go, shaving precious minutes of prepping, cooking and cleaning up off of my busy day, and allowing me more time to reflect, pray, relax, and be with my family. Who knew?
I'm looking forward to what the rest of the week brings, and to where God leads us after these five days. If you're interested in following along with the series, you can do so at the Eagle Brook website.
I'd love to hear what you think!