Shawarma and Scripture

Mar 4, 2011

A friend from another city is visiting us this weekend. One of his favorite culinary activities is to sample the shawarma (tender marinated lambs pieces) from restaurants all across the world. Before his arrival earlier this week, I decided to test the shawarma from a restaurant where I’d never eaten. I arrived for a late lunch around 2PM and placed a 1/2 order.

First a side salad and a basket of pita bread arrived. Then came a dinner-sized plate with the shawarma served on a bed of lettuce, topped with tahini (sesame yogurt) sauce. Next to the lamb was a large pile of fluffy white rice with noodles interspersed. The quantity of food was overwhelming–and this was a half-order!

I started to eat. After a minute I realized I was picking up speed. Food was entering my mouth almost faster than I could chew it. This was not the first time I had made the speed-eating observation. When my plate is too full, I eat faster–as if there is a time frame or obligation for a clean plate. The speed does not allow the question: “Have I had enough?” This is not healthy eating or good stewardship of the food. I feel stuffed but unsatisfied.

I sometimes apply the same unhealthy technique of eating to reading Scripture. I’ll decide I want to read the whole book of Acts by the end of the week. I’ll force feed myself with chapter after chapter in a short amount of time. My mind is overfull and my memory of the reading is nil.

With both food and Scripture, a good strategy might be to eat or read only a portion of what I planned. With food, I can decide to eat only half of what is served. With Scripture, a chapter, sometimes just a sentence will be enough.  The point of eating and digesting both food and Scripture is nourishment and enjoyment–savoring, not stuffing.