While I love to cook, I tend not to be the best of chefs. Sadly I am one of those people that think "more is better."
One of my signature dishes is a cheese grit soufflé. However, I can never seem to follow the recipe. I always feel there needs to be more: more velveeta, then more cheddar, then more garlic, then more salt, then more velveeta, til I am left with a large pot of bubbling yellow goo.
Over the years, I have come to realize that more is not better. Recipes usually work as written and should be left alone. I had to learn three important words: "It-is-enough." Now if I could only master that in life.
Perhaps this rings true with you as well? Do you ever think:
"If I just had a little bit more money in the bank, things would seem better."
"If I could just get one more promotion at work, life would be better."
"If I could just have one more week of vacation, more channels on my cable service, more songs on my ipod, more, more, MORE, then life would be better."
We spend our lives chasing more. Yet the things that truly matter - love, peace, happiness - these things are never found in "more" of anything. Life is like a recipe. It works. It is enough. We are enough. More is not better. If only we could accept that.
A powerful example of this truth is found in the book of Matthew in the story of Jesus' baptism. Jesus comes to the Galilee to be baptized by John the Baptist. When he comes out of the water, the spirit in the form of a dove descends and a voice from heaven says "this is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased."
A beautiful story. A familiar story. Yet, this week I noticed something I hadn't seen in the story before - something interesting about the timing.
God offers these words to Jesus in the third chapter of the book of Matthew. Chapter two was about Jesus' birth and we don't hear about Jesus again until this baptism story in Chapter three.
Why is that significant? Because God tells Jesus that he is his beloved son in whom he is well pleased and Jesus hadn't done anything! He had not called one disciple, he hadn't preached one sermon, he hadn't worked any miracles, he hadn't raised any dead people, healed any blind folks, he hadn't even tangled with any demons!
God didn't offer these words to Jesus after he has completed his amazing ministry and was hailed as the Messiah. God offered Jesus these words before he has done anything. It was like God's way of saying, "It is enough. Your life is enough. You are enough."
It's the same for each of us. God whispers those words to us long before our resume gets written. And God whispers those words to us now not because of what we do, but because of who we are as a beloved child of God. Every morning that we wake up, before we do anything, God whispers those words to us anew. And what better way to start our day - with an affirmation of our worth.
Take a moment each morning to be reminded of your value. Take a moment each morning to listen. For surely if we pay attention in those early hours God's voice will ring clear: "You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased." It is enough. Your life is enough. You are enough.
Delivered as a sermon at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in NYC on Sunday, January 9, 2011. http://www.mabcnyc.org/mabc-audio.htm
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