Reading time: less than 3 minutes To paraphrase Will Rogers, I never met a cookie I didn’t like. It’s a sugar thing and it’s a stress management thing, but ultimately, it’s a spiritual matter for me that I’m so quick to seek comfort in sweets. When I’m behind in my work, when I’ve got a confrontation with someone coming, when I’m criticized (either rightly or wrongly), when my mood is down or when I haven’t taken time out to plan for a decent meal, my “go to” is a handful of cookies. Sugar, fat, mouth, comfort. It’s a simple formula. The Fruit of the Spirit is self-control, and clearly God is not finished with me yet. I’m still learning to find comfort and joy first and foremost in the gift of baptismal grace. I’m glad there’s grace surrounding the cookie jar, too! Daniel is such a wonderful model and example for all of us who struggle with temptation to eat the wrong foods. In chapter one, Ashpenaz is given the task of whipping some young Hebrew men into shape to serve the King’s court. Their training included “a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table” (verse 5). We’re not told that Nebuchadnezzar was a burger king, but Daniel “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine” (verse 8). There must have been some pretty unhealthy stuff on that table. Excellent resolve, Dan. I’ve had some success in recent years with my “I don’t eat that!” policy. I choose an item that’s been detrimental to my waistline, my energy level and my overall fitness, and resolve to say when I see it, “I don’t eat that.” Over the months and years, I’ve eliminated quite a number of things from my diet. I think the care of my body, a magnificent gift from God, is related to my vocational wellbeing. Dr. Eckrich likes to call it “Response-Ability.” If God calls, or my congregation calls, or my family calls on me to fulfill my vocation as disciple, pastor or husband/father, I want to be physically able to jump up and say, “Let’s go!” That’s how it worked out for Daniel and his friends. By tending to their walk with God in Word, worship and prayer, and by tending to their physical wellbeing as an act of worship, presenting their bodies as living sacrifices, they were able to respond in powerful and significant ways when the opportunity came. I’m not at my best when my blood sugar runs too high. The immediate rush that feels so good and comforting after a sweet snack always leaves my sluggish within an hour or so. One of my favorite times for fasting is when I have a lot of creative writing to do. I’ll usually try a “Daniel Fast,” eating only food that God made for a few days, “vegetables to eat and water to drink” (Daniel 1:12). I find my mind clearer and my thinking sharper. This is a great topic to send out a couple days after Halloween, isn’t it? I’d love to hear about your struggles and successes with food. The Fruit of the Spirit is self-control, and maybe self-control begins with a handful of fruit instead of a handful of cookies. With a cookie or two for dessert. There is grace, remember? Thanks for reading. Do you serve in a multiple staff setting in a church, Lutheran school, university or social service ministry? Discover how a Ministry Team Wellness Workshop can help enhance your team ministry by building the unity, spiritual life and communication essential to partnership in ministry. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman for more information.