Let God Fill Your Plate

Have you ever been to a buffet and gotten a little overexcited? You’re walking through the line, and everything just looks so good. You start scooting the food around on your plate, making room for a little more, until eventually all the margins have been filled. It looks great. You’re thrilled that you were able to find room for so many great things.

Then you go back to the table and start eating. At first, it’s really good. You’re enjoying the meal, enjoying the company, still pleased with yourself for being able to fit in so much yummy goodness. However, somewhere between the mashed potatoes and the green beans you start to feel a little uncomfortable. You look at all that’s left on your plate, sigh, and keep eating. You manage to clear off a couple more items, and now you’re really starting to feel sluggish.

Eventually, you just can’t eat anymore. You push your plate away, discouraged because you couldn't finish and because now you don’t have any room left for those delicious-looking dessert choices. Twenty minutes later, you feel miserable. You’ve eaten too much, taken in more than was good for you, and now you’re paying the price.

Life as a Buffet Bar

Sometimes, we act like life is a buffet bar. We wake up each day, and so many choices present themselves to us. An invitation to go here, an activity for our kids there, a request for help now, and an opportunity to serve then. We add things to our plate, and as it starts to fill up, we scoot them around so that we can fit a few more in, until eventually the margins are all filled. We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to fit so much in, to say “yes” to so many people.

Then we start actually living out all the commitments we’ve made. At first everything is great. But somewhere between soccer and helping with the women’s tea, we start to feel a little uncomfortable. We look at all that’s left on our plate, sigh, and keep on going. Then it’s time to work at the church outreach and get the house ready for the company that will be here in an hour, and we really start to feel panicky. It’s now bedtime, but we’re way behind on the laundry and we haven't had a good conversation with our family in days. Eventually, we give up and go to bed, discouraged over all that was left undone and because now we haven't had time to actually enjoy any of the things we signed up to do. A few days later, we’re miserable. We’ve said “yes” to too much, taken on more than was good for us, and now we’re paying the price.

God has really been convicting me of my tendency to pile too much on my plate. I see an opportunity or an empty time slot on my calendar and say “yes” without ever stopping to think about how it will affect my family or what will happen if something unexpected comes along. I continually find myself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, pressured, and uneasy because of all that I’ve tried to cram into my week. I find myself constantly having no room for sweet things like relaxation, spontaneous trips to the park, or being able to say “yes” to a last-minute invitation to a friend’s house for dinner—just like I have no room for dessert at the buffet when I have piled too much on my plate on my first trip up to the bar.

Let God Fill It Up

So what’s the answer? How do we break the cycle of overcommitment and resulting misery? I think the answer is simple: Let God fill the plate.

Picture yourself walking into a buffet-style restaurant, sitting down, and sending someone else up to fill your plate for you. That would require a certain level of trust and even bravery. What if they don’t get your favorite? What if they get something you don’t like? What if they don't get as much as you think they should? What if they get too much? Trust doesn't come easily for us—we prefer to retain control over such personal decisions as what we eat and what goes on our calendar.

Can you trust the Lord to portion out your plate exactly as He wants it to be? When you’re asked to help, serve, participate, or give to something else try to discipline yourself to not answer on the spot. Just like we need to eat a little and then wait to let that food settle before deciding whether to go get more, we also need to wait and pray and honestly consider how more commitments will affect our schedule before adding more to our calendar.

Some of the most surprising Scriptures in the Gospels are the ones when Jesus said “no.” In the first chapter of Mark, we read that Jesus had withdrawn to pray and His disciples came looking for Him.

And they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (vv. 37–38).

Jesus left the crowds who were clamoring for His attention and went somewhere else. He knew exactly what His priorities were and that determined what His to-do list looked like, even if it baffled those around Him.

When we focus on the Lord and submit our plate to Him to fill, we will need to say “no” to some very good-looking opportunities and those around us may be baffled by our decisions. We cannot do anything with excellence if we’re trying to do everything.

Considerations for the New Year

If you find yourself constantly overwhelmed by all that’s on your plate, or if your family is feeling the strain of your overcommitment, consider these challenges for the new year:

  • Commit to seeking the Lord before accepting any new commitments.
    When opportunity knocks, wait and pray before giving a final answer. Practice saying, “Let me pray about that, and I’ll get back to you.” If you’re married, ask your husband if he thinks this opportunity will be one you can handle without straining yourself or your family or your other commitments. If you’re single, ask a close friend or family member the same question. Then ask the Lord for wisdom, and submit your schedule to His plan.
  • Leave some empty space in your calendar.
    Family that asks to visit, sickness, last-minute invitations for something that would be great for you and your family, a friend in crisis—these are situations that will come up sooner or later and without extra room on your plate to scoot some things over, you’ll be in a real bind as you try to figure out how to handle everything. Not to mention you need empty space for your own rest. We are but dust. We’re not invincible, nor are we the Energizer Bunny. We need regular periods of rest in order to recharge and function at healthy levels. This will look different in different seasons, but no one is immune from the need for rest and relaxation. Schedule yourself some breaks, and guard them carefully.
  • Be willing to change things up as the Lord leads.
    When you submit your plate to God for Him to fill, He will sometimes add things you wouldn't have chosen and leave off something that looks like it would have been wonderful. All you see from your vantage point is what looks good before you really taste it. He has a perfect perspective, and He knows whether broccoli or cupcakes are better for you right now. You may fill your plate, and then as you spend time with Him through His Word, He may ask you to take something back off of it. You may prefer to just keep filling it with the same things every week, every month, every year, but He may ask you to forego the familiar and try something new and scary. Practice walking in constant submission to Him, constant obedience to Him, even if letting Him fill your plate seems scary.

Finally, remember that He is trustworthy. You can trust Him to fill your plate because He is a good God. He is not going to give you hard things unless they will work for your good, to make you more like Christ. Consider these Scriptures:

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance (Ps. 16:5–6).

For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things (Ps. 107:9).

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:26).

Are you willing to let God fill your plate this year? Do you trust Him to order your days, lead you in your commitments? It may require some difficult choices as you say “no” to things you feel pressure to do and say “yes” to things you are scared to do, but I think I can promise that obeying the Lord will benefit more than it costs. May 2017 be the year that you bow out of the race to be Superwoman and simply walk in step with how the Lord leads through His Word and prayer.

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Monica Hall

Monica Hall

Monica Hall makes her home with her pastor-husband and six children in a rural community in the Bible belt. She spends her days homeschooling and chauffeuring her kiddos, dreaming up family road trips, and curling up with a tall glass of sweet tea and a good book. She loves talking with women, sharing how Jesus has transformed her heart, swapping stories of life and ministry, and finding encouragement and laughter for the journey.

Contact Monica at MHall@ROHAmbassador.com

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