November 27, 2006

Bounty Rationing
by Pastor George Van Alstine

It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I just enjoyed my third rerun of a great turkey dinner. All the elements are still available at our house in refrigerated plastic containers—light and dark meat, stuffing, gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce and two kinds of pies. I’ll bet some of you guys whose wives are culinarily-challenged are jealous!

I’ve found that the secret to enjoying Thanksgiving, or for that matter, any of life’s good things, is what I call “bounty-rationing.â€? When we have plenty, we tend to overindulge. But we always pay for this with an overstuffed feeling, lethargy, guilt, and maybe with an added inch around the waistline. What started as enjoyment, if we’re not careful, can easily end in regret.

But if we eat our Thanksgiving Day feast in a moderate, controlled way, we leave enough for several sequels. Some of us are convinced stuffing and gravy actually improve with age.

If I’m right, the same is true of our enjoyment of other kinds of pleasures: they’re best enjoyed in modest, measured amounts. I think this applies to hobbies, listening to music, watching TV and (can I mention it?) sex. If you have a bounty available, overindulgence is always a threat to enjoyment.

A friend of mine fell in love with powerboating. He would use any excuse to get away for a weekend, rent a boat, and spend as much time as possible cruising around.

He often talked to me about buying his own boat, and finally he did. From then on, it was a powerboating orgy—every spare minute he was on the lake. His wife and kids hardly saw him any more.

About a year later, I was having lunch with him, when he sighed and said, “I have to go out on my boat this weekend.â€? I asked, “Have to? What do you mean?â€? He answered, “I don’t really feel like it, but I’ve invested all that money in the boat—storage, repairs, gas—I feel like I have to use it as much as possible. I’d really rather go to the kids’ football game, but I can’t.â€?

The boat-bounty had created an addiction. This was because of his overindulgence; he hadn’t learned how to ration his bounty.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian Church:
“In all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.â€? (Philippians 4:12)
This knowledge, how to ration our bounty, doesn’t come naturally. It has to be learned. And the Lord is our best Teacher, as Paul points out in the next verse:“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.â€? (verse 13)

If you think you’ve learned enough about bounty-rationing (at least regarding food), come on over and we’ll share a Thanksgiving meal from our refrigerator. It will be the fourth sequel and probably even better than the other three.