Did you know: According to the FDA, “With the exception of infant formula, the laws that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers do not preclude the sale of food that is past the expiration date indicated on the label? The FDA does not require food firms to place ‘expired by’, ‘use by’, or ‘best before’ dates on food products. This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.”
Article in Time, “…according to the new analysis, words like ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ are used so inconsistently that they contribute to widespread misinterpretation — and waste — by consumers. More than 90% of Americans throw out food prematurely, and 40% of the U.S. food supply is tossed–unused–every year because of food dating.”
So, it would seem that, to many Americans, the expiration date stamped on food products is gospel. It is critical to our health and well-being. Right?
You wouldn’t consume this. Right?
So then, the question becomes:
Why do we so stubbornly oppose, ignore, or deny THIS expiration date:
Don’t tell me you don’t. We all do. I think that reality is the most profound image of “whistling past the graveyard”. Every one of us has an expiration date. It’s not arbitrary or negotiable. And, yes, it IS set in stone. Okay, a bit of clarification: God can change that date. God can do anything he wants!
It’s also quite possible that when your doctor told you you had six months to live – ten years ago – that all those prayers raised to heaven on your behalf were answered. But, I believe it’s more probable that the doctor was simply wrong. It reminds me of the expression, “If it ain’t your time to go, not even a doctor can kill you.” But, that is a whole other blog post.
I can be, and often am, lax about the dates on most food products. Milk is a good example. After you reach the date on the carton, smell it, and then take the tiniest taste. You’ll know if it’s okay for another day. Simple enough and money-saving.
Actually, (sorry, this is probably gross for you to consider), when we humans reach our final stage of life, usually the last couple of days or hours, there is an undeniable smell of death. It is one of the signs of the end of life’s journey, and I have experienced it often sitting vigil with Hospice patients. But, don’t count on that smell test to help you decide to hurry up and clean your act up. Unfortunately, at that point, you will be too far gone to make any life-changing decisions.
And, what if, on your expiration date, without any warning, you just get run over by a truck on your way to the mailbox!?
I am writing this post at the beginning of Lent, a perfect time to reevaluate how I’m living my life. After all, it is a time when we too, are called to die…
Take a breath – it’s okay…
We’re called to die to our sins. I’m not saying that’s easy by any stretch. We so often fail miserably at our best intentions: I’m going to bake a pie for that grouchy neighbor of mine! Maybe. Or not.
We must keep trying though, and hopefully, by the grace of God, we will at least fall forward. With that in mind, I have determined – again – to make this my most profound Lenten Season EVER! (I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Or not.)
I have so much to consider:
- Needed changes I have refused to deal with.
- The baggage I cling to.
- Old hurts that still affect my life all these decades later.
- Lies of other broken people I have fed on and nurtured.
- Guilt and shame I cannot let go of.
- And, most importantly, denial of my worth as a beloved child of God.
I long to grow in love. I want to use these final days of my life, however many I have left, to fully live as the person I was created to be.
Saint Irenaeus said: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” I want and need to be that fully alive Christian, now. We should all, if we call ourselves Christian, want to strive for the ultimate goal of our faith. And it is not a goal to be realized after life here on earth has ended. It is a goal we should be striving for every day, right here, right now. The Kingdom of God is here, now. It’s not some faraway place we hope we’ve gotten our card pinched enough to qualify for entry.
Our hell is right here if that’s the life we are living.
Our heaven is right here if we choose to live as God calls us to.
Even if Lent is not part of your faith tradition, this is still an excellent time to consider fasting and praying as we approach Easter. You don’t have to eat peanut butter and jelly or fish on Fridays unless you LOVE peanut butter and jelly and fish. Not together – that’s gross!