At the Chick-fil-A Home Office we have a full service cafe for lunch. Some days at the cafe we have lasagna. Other days it could be pot roast. On the best days, there’s one of the heavenliest delights this side of Italy called honey glazed chicken pizza. There are always a few staple items as well. Everyday you can get a Chick-fil-A sandwich or visit the salad bar.
Not only does the team at the cafe cook main dishes right, but their desserts are mouth-watering sugary masterpieces. And oh, did I mention….U N L I M I T E D Ice Dream. You read that right. U N L I M I T E D.
As you can imagine, it’s hard not to eat everything. Everyday. All the while washing it down using that iconic red and white cup filled with crushed ice and perfectly sweetened tea.
Each morning, I walk into work with the greatest of intentions for my meal later in the day. My mind is set deep on getting a really great salad–topped with perfectly seasoned grilled chicken and Truett’s Special House Dressing.
Despite my strong will and great intentions, something happens.
Around 10:45 each morning the hot dish for the day has a scent that climbs the stairs and navigates the halls to my desk. The scent has all of the properties of a classic Florida thunderstorm. Everyone knows it’s coming, but somehow it’s always a surprise.
It’s magical. In an instant I realize I’m hungry. Before I’m able to lay my eyes on the meal of the day, my stomach has already committed itself to consuming whatever has brought such delight to my nose.
Something has become more powerful than the goodwill I entered the day with. Most days, I give in. I walk away with a tray full of that day’s delicacy (along with the salad I was planning on eating just to say I had a salad). The guilt that would once weigh (no pun intended) on me is smothered in gravy, and followed by candy ladened Ice Dream. I feel satisfied.
We’ve all experienced a strong inclination towards something. Your experience, like mine, may involve food. For others, it may be seeing the SALE sign in the window of the local Nike Outlet. The source of your desire may not be an object or an event. It could actually be another person. You get your daily fix by checking their Instagram feed and then deleting your search history so no one knows your checking.
You tell yourself ‘just this one time’ or ‘I’ll stop on Monday’ (until Monday comes around and you say ‘I’ll stop in May).
On New Years Day, I had the opportunity to go hang out with some friends from work. It was a rainy night. After our night ended, I started my car to drive home and began flipping through the seemingly endless radio stations in Atlanta. (Something you should understand about me–having unlimited music choices on my iPhone stresses me out. I like to let the radio do the decision making every once in a while.)
I stumbled onto one of my favorite late night radio pleasures, which may actually surprise you. Several nights a week, one of the local Christian stations plays audio sermons by big-name (mostly local) pastors. On this night, they were streaming a message by the pastor of First Baptist Atlanta, Charles Stanley.
**Two things to note before you stop reading if you just lost interest:
- If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, don’t give up on me yet. I promise this bowl of soup story could change your life no matter your beliefs.
- If you are a follower of Jesus but the word ‘baptist’ scares you, I promise what comes next will be impactful.
Charles was telling the story of two of the most interesting (in my opinion) characters in the Bible. Jacob and Esau (Southern Baptist translation: EEE-SAWW). Jacob and Esau were brothers. Twins to be exact. As the book of Genesis tells us, Jacob came out of the womb clinching to Esau’s ankle.
On a level more extreme than most of your Thanksgiving gatherings, Jacob and Esau had quite a bit of family drama. Charles Stanely begins telling us about one of the many stories associated with these guys. It starts with Jacob (second born) inside cooking when his brother Esau (first born) comes inside from hunting. Check out what happens:
Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.
Whoa! That just happened really fast. Did you see that?
Instant replay: Esau walked in and –BOOM!– traded his BIRTHRIGHT to Jacob for a bowl of SOUP.
Okay. So. What does that mean (beside the fact that Panera should be rolling in birthrights)? Back in these days, your birthright was your future. As first born, Esau’s birthright was incredibly valuable. To understand the weight of it, think of a college degree. It’s the key that unlocks high paying jobs and a financially stable future. The difference is, you have to work hard for your degree. A birthright is just as it’s you’d expect from the name. A right. Freely given.
Think about your college degree. Can you imagine giving it to someone as if they earned it? Better yet, can you imagine trading a bowl of soup for it?!
That’s what Esau did. He was hungry. To satisfy his temporary feeling of hunger, he gave away his inheritance that served as his right as firstborn.
So what does this mean for me? I can’t trade my college degree for soup. It wouldn’t matter if I did.
Your right. This seems pretty preposterous, but it was back in the Old Testament days too. And thankfully your degree is more than a piece of paper you poses. While you may not be tempted to give up your college degree for something as simple as soup, there are some other things you may be giving up without realizing it.
Pastor Stanley goes on to talk about our appetites. Sometimes, our appetites do the decision making for us. He explains that appetites don’t have to do with just our dietary consumption. We have appetites for lots of things. It could be food, money, clothes, sex, attention. Frequently, our appetite for these things clouds our judgement.
Here’s just a few examples of how your appetite may be exchanging components of your future:
- Money: Your appetite says ‘buy this’. You’ve just traded the ability to pay off debt sooner.
- Sex: Your appetite says ‘one more look’. You’ve just traded another ounce of intimacy with your future spouse.
- Food: Your appetite says ‘cake for breakfast’. You’ve just traded an opportunity for better health.
- Time: Your appetite says ‘Netflix binge’. You’ve just traded an opportunity for deeper relational connections with friends.
We are a lot more like Esau than we’d like to confess. This includes me. But, the first step in turning down the soup (insert ‘turned down for soup’ parody) is acknowledging the beauty the future holds. God has great plans for our lives as we are told in Jeremiah. If you can turn down the soup and survive your appetite, you’ll be keeping your eye on the prize.
This isn’t an instant gratification scenario. Pulling the reigns on your appetite will not make your day more enjoyable. In fact, it may force you to find joy in other ways. Taking control of your appetite does impact your future though. If each of us accepted this story as a challenge, imagine what our lives could look like in 10 years.! As Dr. Stanley says, stop allowing your appetite to ‘trade your present pleasures for future promises.”
Be More Awesome.