Proverbs 30: 7-9 (NRSVA)
7 Two things I ask of you;
do not deny them to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that I need,
9 or I shall be full, and deny you,
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
or I shall be poor, and steal,
and profane the name of my God.
The original ‘Story of the Three Bears’ featured a badly behaved old woman breaking into the household of a good-natured trio of bachelor bears and wreaking havoc. In later versions, the bears became a family and the old woman was changed into a small girl, who suffers a range of fates depending on the telling. But Goldilocks, as she became known, is probably best known for her need for things to be ‘just right’. The porridge must be neither too hot, nor too cold; the seat neither too big nor too small; the bed neither too hard nor too soft.
Psychologists, astrobiologists, economists, mathematicians, statisticians, engineers and communications experts all invoke her name to describe the concept of something being ‘just the right amount’.
The writer of Proverbs recognises this ‘Goldilocks Effect’, arguing that both want and excess challenge us. We function most healthily when we have ‘enough’.
But when is enough, enough?
Give me today my daily bread — pan, plain, wholewheat, sourdough, gluten-free — you choose.
But not pizza, that would weigh me down too much.
Not that ‘fat-free loaf’ either. That isn't real bread. And I need something real to survive, Lord.
I need something which will nourish me.
I need the grain of daily work or purpose; the oil of good relationships; the water of encouragement, the salt of challenge, the yeast of hope, and a touch of sweet joy on my tongue.
Enough of the right ingredients to make my soul rise.
Master Baker, make it ‘just right’, because so often I blunder in and get it wrong, insisting on too much or too little.
Give me enough, Lord, and no more.