My family is in full recovery mode from a month of Christmas celebration. Which in short means we are coming off 31 days of all things chocolate. When you are cutting out sugar and carbs in an effort to convince your metabolism that you really do like it and want it to keep functioning for you- you start looking for substitutions for all the delicious foods you have been eating. And here is where the problem lies.
For most foods there are suitable substitutes. But I am a sugar girl. I like sugar, I believe in sugar, I may campaign for sugar. You know the advertisements.. Brought to you by the corn industry, beef industry, etc? I may launch my own personal promo for the virtues of sugar. And the top one is there is no substitute. Please do not say stevia. I have tasted it. If there is an aftertaste - it's not sugar.
And then there are the more natural substitutes like applesauce. In brownies. No. Just no. You know how there is no crying in baseball? Well there is no fruit in brownies. It violates laws- maybe not laws of nature- but certainly laws of chocolate.

While I have come to the startling realization that I like sugar entirely too much, I have also noticed some other things. Like how much of my day I can fill with things that completely do not matter. Now our meal times are paired down to a minimalist state. The first few days of doing this- I was sad. Actually sad. Because I couldn't think about what I was going to eat or drink that day. That got me thinking. What if I didn't spend my days preoccupied by food? Or clothes? Or what my kids need? Or what my house needs? Not that there is anything wrong with thinking about and taking care of these things but I'm telling you most of us have taken it too far. If we really take an honest look at our lives- we spend our days worrying and working to provide ourselves and our families with what we need. And we don't realize it but somewhere along the way we substitute all this worry and activity and striving for Jesus. What a terrible substitution! We have been given the Prince of Peace and we trade Him in for what we can manage or think we can manage on our own.

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."   Matt. 6:31-33

Jesus knew it would be our tendency to run after the things we need. But see He doesn't deny that we need them. The Word says He knows that we need the things. He just knows there is a better way that is not so frenzied and chaotic. There is the Way of the Prince of Peace. His Way is always the best way, the holy way, the way of love and truth and hope. And He says we don't have to live in fear or distraction or busyness or obsession. We can live in peace. We can live in Him. So how?

I am still learning the how. I think it begins with the dailyness of Jesus. We can't stock up on Jesus like a weekly trip to Costco. He gives us what we need day by day. And we only receive it when we make room for Him- to meet with Him. To invite Him into our day and ask Him to show us on this day - how do we seek Your Kingdom? How do we receive Your provision?  And we invite Him to show us where we are substituting anything for Him.

Jesus, show us where we are filling our lives with things other than You. Teach us how to fall at Your feet and not run after the things You want to freely give us. Teach us how to bee seekers of Your kingdom and not rulers of our own small worlds. Thank you that You love to teach us and that You are the giver of all good gifts.    Amen.