As I drove home from work I felt the knowing grumble in my tummy that signaled that I was indeed hungry. Certainly not starving, but hungry enough that my stomach had started to do flip flops and I'd started to get that "I'm interested in food" salivation taste in my mouth.
I flipped open my change container to the left of the steering wheel in my car and grabbed the change that sat in there. Fifty-eight cents. And it's Wednesday. The image of the McDonald's sign declaring $0.49 cheeseburgers on the way home from work immediately popped into my mind. Soon after that I had a bout of Homer Simpson disease as the next thing that went through my mind was "Mmmm... cheeseburger..."
I prepared for it. I would throw away the bag at the gym and no one would ever know about my $0.49 plain cheeseburger. Except me.
I thought ahead to after the gym when I would be at home with Steve for date night with the free food that the generous manager from India Palace had sent back with his co-workers would be laid out before me for dinner. I thought about the Sullivan Farms ice cream that sat in our freezer that we would partake in for dessert after our Indian buffet leftovers.
My stomach grumbled at me again. I had given it the tease of a cheeseburger, and now it wanted it.
I took a deep breath and pondered. Was it worth the lie of the cheeseburger for the instant gratification? Then God whispered in my ear... "Don't forget, Jesus was tempted with delicious food too."
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” (Luke 4:1-3)
I remembered Jesus' temptation by Satan in the wilderness. I remembered his words to Satan as told by Matthew - "Get out of here, Satan!" (I think that's the NLT translation).
I looked ahead and saw the McDonald's coming up on the right. I thought about the $0.58 that sat in my little change drawer. That cheeseburger with the crinkly wrapping was calling my name. My stomach started yelling louder.
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’” (Luke 4:4)
I gripped the steering wheel tightly and said a prayer thanking God for the reminder that I did not need to give in to the temptation of the terrible cheeseburger. I drove right by that yellow sign declaring the $0.49 cheeseburgers on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-7. I took a left and saw the famous Golden Arches in my rear view mirror slowly fade from sight. I could taste the cheeseburger that I didn't get in my mouth, a reminder of what I could have had.
I thought about what would be waiting for me when I got home from the gym, and knew that I could have Indian buffet leftovers and ice cream with a clear conscience. I would enjoy our date night without the guilt that I had partaken in a dinner before dinner - and not even a very good one at that. I listened to my stomach protest for a few more minutes before drowning it out with NPR's latest story. I looked at the sun beating down on my car, and thanked God again for the reminder that even Jesus was tempted by the devil with food before it was time to eat. I thanked Jesus for His example, went to the gym for some exercise, and thanked God for the blessings in my life.
I have no idea what that Indian food on my plate was called, but every bite tasted extra sweet.