Have you ever had too much of a good thing?
As we have spent the last year and a half in our new home in Florida, many of our family and friends have accused us of having just that – too much of a good thing! I cannot tell you how many of you have sent me pictures of your all-too-recent snowstorms and the like – all of which assure me that I have not had too much of a good thing!
But just asking this question brings to mind some incidents from our past that have caused me to reflect upon the question.
The first occurred while we were on our vacation one summer at the Cedar Point amusement park on Lake Erie. For the uninformed, Cedar Point is known as “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World!” They now claim to have 18 world-class roller coasters!
But at the time we were there, there were 11 of them that adults can ride. And I love roller coasters! And with very short lines, we were able to ride nine of the 11 the first evening we were in the park. We rode the other two roller coasters and most of the other rides the next day… and by the time I left the park on the second evening, I was convinced that I had had too much of a good thing!
I felt shaken, beaten, twisted, turned, rocked, and rolled in more ways than I could imagine! I was literally sore for days after that experience…
The second occurred just a few days later. On the way home from a day trip to Cincinnati, we stopped, as our family tradition is to do, at one of those fast food enterprises (you know, the one with the golden arches) and purchased two ice cream cones to eat on the rest of the drive home. Well, the server apparently was trying to get used to the machine, and brought out the first cone in which the ice cream was every bit of nine inches taller than the cone itself!
I thought that was a fluke, and handed it across to Susie, but when he brought out the second cone and it was even taller than the first … wow! At first, my response was, that this was great! Look how much ice cream I got for a mere pennies!
But then, as we drove away from the establishment, I suddenly realized that I had too much of a good thing. The foot-high ice cream cone suddenly fell right into my chest, and I had a mess on my hands.
Too much of a good thing?
You know, when I think about that, I also think a biblical incident that might help us to see. I think of Elisha and a widow. (Check out 2 Kings 4:1-7) Apparently her husband had died and left her with a hefty debt. His creditor was planning to come and take her two sons as slaves in payment for the debt, when God showed Elisha that she needed some help.
All she had to her name was a little oil. Now oil was a valuable commodity in those days, so Elisha told her to get all the jars she could find, beg, or borrow. Then he told her to fill up the jars with the little oil she had.
The oil never ran out, or at least it only ran out when the widow could not find any more jars to fill up. Then she was able to sell that oil, pay off the creditor, and provide for her sons and herself.
There was, in that case, no such thing as “too much of a good thing!”
And that is the way it is with God … ”Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) And Ephesians, chapter 1 talks about the spiritual blessings with which we have been blessed!
If I read these verses correctly, I would have to say that there IS no such thing as too much of a good thing – at least from God’s perspective! The only question is then, “What constitutes a good thing?”
Do ice cream and roller coasters fit the bill?
In reading the Scriptures, and in seeking to know God better and in a more up close and personal way, I have become convinced that what I often think of as good and what God thinks of as good can be different. For example, I may think that roller coasters and ice cream are good things, by definition. But God thinks that trials and tribulation can be good if it draws me closer to Him! In fact, roller coasters and ice cream cones may also be good in God’s eyes – if they draw me closer to Him!
So can a person ever get too much of a “good” thing? Not if that thing draws me closer to Jesus!
Augustine of Hippo once said that his motto for life was to “Love God and do whatever you please!” He knew that if you truly loved God, you would not do anything that would not bring glory to Him, and then you would enjoy life as well.
So then, we can eat all the foot-high ice cream cones we want, and ride all the twister roller coasters and drop zones and all sorts of other chiropractic delights so long as we are attempting to live for Him as we do it!
In the words of Pastor John Piper, “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him!” So this week, may I encourage you to enjoy Him in everything you do!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.