Friday, 15 October 2010
Hungry Chapter 11: Eat
Do you eat more meals in your car than in your kitchen?
There came a day when I realized I hadn’t sat down to eat a meal in my home in over two weeks. It wasn’t all take-out, mind you. There were healthy snacks from home packed in all kinds of containers. Leftovers of meals I’d actually cooked at home, too, until those ran out. Even suppers my husband packed for me (bless him) when I had to go straight from work to our community group.
Why do we eat on the run? As I’ve pondered that, I’ve concluded it’s not just busyness. It’s drivenness. Somehow we–women particularly–feel it’s not OK to look after our own needs. We have trouble sitting down, much less enjoying the food we need. We pop back up to get milk for the toddler or answer the door bell or find out why the washing machine is banging again.
It’s like our “servant” button is stuck in the on position. Servants stand. Or sit behind a steering wheel while they dash to work or cart the young lords and ladies around. But we justify our compulsive serving by telling ourselves we’re doing it for Jesus.
After all, he’s the King.
Well, this King commands his daughters to sit and eat! Remember our persistent Host from Chapter 7? Having provided the food of his finished work on the cross, he invites himself to our table:
“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
Then he pulls out the meal he has provided, handing us exactly what we need for our overactive consciences and anxious cares. In the words he spoke to the twelve he invites us:
“Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).
We begin to relax and take in the goodness of the meal he has set before us. We’ve finished the work of studying our passage of Scripture.
Now it’s time to enjoy it.
What do you and I need most today? Stop and think for a second. I bet your first response wasn’t joy. Joy sounds like the icing on the cake, not the meal itself. But as CS Lewis observed, “joy is the serious business of heaven.” In the new Jerusalem joy will be our full time occupation, the overflow of living in the presence of our Triune God.
But until then, joy comes in snatches, whenever we can catch a glimpse of our God through Jesus. Our study of God’s word is a search for those snatches.
“God is great. God is good,” many of us learned to pray before our meal, “and we thank him for our food.” Our food is to see more of his Good Greatness and taste more of his Great Goodness. Seeing the saving work of Jesus in our Bible is the best way to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
When we do, we can’t help but rejoice. And taking joy in the right things is the purest food for our souls, nourishing our faith and sanctifying our lives on the spot.
“Worship is the first and best response to the gospel” (Hungry, p. 216).
Try holding a pencil horizontally in front of your eyes and then looking out the window. Chances are you won’t enjoy the view. As much as you might try to look past it, your eyes will keep refocusing on the pencil.
That’s what our lives are like. Our problems loom large, while the rest of the world shrinks or blurs. It’s tough to think about anything but ourselves.
Further, we find that even when we aren’t preoccupied with pain, our view of the world typically places us at the center. It’s not just a limited perspective, it tilts everything towards us. It determines what we see and consequently what we think is important. Those are the things that matter, that make it onto our short list of things to do or at least worry about.
Scripture renews our minds by showing us what matters to God. And what matters to God is his eternal plan to rescue rebels and turn them into friends. The word of the gospel resets my mind so that my thoughts line up with his.
“Gospel perspective is one way God nourishes us through his Word. We sit down scattered. We get up collected. We sit down confused. We get up with greater clarity. We sit down heavy-hearted. We get up comforted. We sit down crazy. We get up in our right minds” (Hungry, p. 219).
The gospel is my sanity.
We’re almost ready to jump up and get busy, but there’s one more thing we need. Now that we’ve tasted joy and cleared the fog, we need strength for the day’s demands. And the gospel of Christ will provide it.
How? When we believe the gospel, we receive “Christ with all his benefits.” Those benefits start with being justified and made new, but extend to cover every thing I need for the new life God has called me to live.
“The Christian life looks ordinary, but it’s utterly supernatural. Our daily work includes resisting the devil, loving our enemies, fleeing temptation, and doing good to all. Humbly, of course, and without any expectation of thanks or praise. I need God’s assurance that everything he’s asking me to do, he will help me to do” (Hungry, p. 221).
The passage of Scripture I’ve studied today will remind me of some grace from his storehouse that I can bank on because Jesus has already paid for it.
So, sit and eat. Then take his joy, wisdom, and strength into your busy life.