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Eat This Not That!

Monday was a happy day for me. I was able to eat cookies without having to “toss them”, if you know what I mean! A cruel intestinal virus wrestled with me most of last week and all weekend, eventually driving me to the ER Saturday for fluids and medication to ease the endless cramping pains. By the time I was able to consume solid food without pain consuming me, I had gone 5 ½ days without eating. I had forgotten how intensely wonderful bread could taste – even gluten-free! (Thanks again to Jonathan for baking it for me!)

If you’ve fasted for any reason before, or had to go a while before eating something you really enjoy, you probably know what I’m talking about – the flavors just seem to be magnified with fabulousness!

I want you to do an exercise with me (no sweating involved, it’s ok). Now, if we were in person, I’d ask you to close your eyes right now, and in confession that’s actually what I originally had typed here. I’m sorry to say it took me half the way down on this blog before I realized, “If their eyes are closed, they can’t read the blog.” (Go ahead, laugh in derision for a moment. Ok, moving on.)

Imagine yourself eating one of your favorite meals. What is it? Italian, seafood, steak, falafel? Do you have to drive far to eat this meal? Does someone special have to make it? Does it take YOU a long time to prepare it? Is it expensive or comprised of hard to find items? What do you do or say to express how much you are enjoying that food? What are you thinking about while you're eating this meal? Are you worrying about things going on in your life, or do you feel like "ahh, everything is right in the world right this moment." After, what would you say to the preparer of that meal?

Ok, I’ll go first, my favorite meal experience is a special steak dinner (45-day aged beef), with lobster macaroni & cheese at “Hall’s Chophouse” in Charleston, South Carolina. Hands down, my most favorite meal for dinner, and I lack words for the desserts. Not only is the food so good I actually clap my hands when they bring it to the table, but the service is the best I’ve ever experienced too. There’s a thank you card in the mail from them shortly after your visit. I almost can’t help myself to “Mmmmmm” after every bite – it’s just obvious to all that I’m delighted!

Now that I’ve officially made everyone hungry, and ready to bee-line it to Charleston this weekend, let’s turn the dining room table around a bit, and consider this interesting spiritual connection.

If you’ve read some of the Bible, or heard of some popular passages before (we’re talking “the last supper” kind of popular), we see where Christ describes Himself for us in terms of food and drink - a meal to feed on. (There are actually many passages that refer to Christ as food and drink…even in the Old Testament when the references to Christ were written as prophecy of Him yet to come as a human…even then food terms are used!)

What do you do with these passages?

Do we think of ourselves as needing to "eat Jesus" daily? Seems sort of strange, right?

But when we talk about Jesus as food, we’re talking about who Jesus is: God's Son – and His Word in flesh. God created us with 2 empty spaces inside of us, our stomachs for human food, and our souls for spiritual food. When our stomachs are empty, they growl and we fill them. When our souls are empty, they also growl in different ways, and we are made to be filled by Christ – by God’s Word.

God asks Isaiah and all of us, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and labor on what does not satisfy?” Ever spent money on something to just “feel better”, only to be left still wanting and then feeling worse for wasting money?

But how does a “soul eat”?

God gives us the heads up through Isaiah too: “Listen! Listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me that your soul may live.” Do you see how to feed your soul? By listening to God’s Word. Just as we eat food with our mouths and take it into our stomach for digestion and energy, our souls eat by listening to God's Word, then we take it into our minds and hearts to be digested as fuel for daily living.

Jeremiah 15:16 "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by your name."

Psalm 34:8 "Taste and see that the Lord is good!"

Jesus described Himself as bread, meat, milk, wine, living water...and not just bland provisions, but "richest fare" - like the best meal we could ever imagine! He told His disciples they'd need to eat and drink Him. Even the Israelites ate the Passover Lamb after they sprinkled the blood over their doors for deliverance. They ate the sacrifice individually and as families. The journey ahead required them to have strength in every way, and God provided.

If we thought of Him like food and our time with Him like a meal - what kind of meal experiences have you had with Him this week? Is it like the one we described earlier? Or dull, rushed, mere crumbs?

Everywhere, everyday souls are starving and thirsty - and some women reading this are stunted in growth because they are feeding their hungry souls on things of this world in order to find satisfaction, but are only getting hungrier and more dehydrated.

If we are what we eat – do we want to become more like the world or more like Christ? If Christ, then we must all the more “eat this” (God’s Word) and “not that” (things of this world).

Next month many of us will be sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast. On that table will be all kinds of foods, textures, flavors, aromas, and the preparers will have no doubt worked hard to present the meal. Consider this, we can and are made to FEAST on Christ! We are invited daily to eat to the delight of our souls from God’s banquet table. Everything we could imagine, want or need, can be found in Him - sitting ready to be savored and enjoyed. And this feast will not cost us in tight clothes, pinched bank accounts or loads of regret!

Spend some time in reflection today. Are you feeding on Christ to satisfy your soul? If you aren't getting full on Him, what are you eating - how's that going? We may need to confess how we've been filling our souls this season with worldly "foods". Maybe we need to be refreshed in believing that Jesus actually IS "richest fare" – we’ve believed He is bland and overly-processed. Perhaps we may set some time aside soon to seek Him for a fuller meal.

Maybe we need to seek His help to prepare spiritual snacks of His Word so we can better practice enjoying His Word (food) throughout the day when our souls start to growl during the day - rather than stay vulnerable and run to the vending machine options in this world.One of my favorite afternoon “snacks” is to go outside and pour out my heart to him in honest…using Heather-words we can both understand. He says to us “I am the Lord your God…open wide your mouth and I will fill it!” So I open wide my soul to Him and then comes the treat: He fills me with Truth, hope, joy in His words that quiet my chaos. It’s so much better than the cookie or chocolate bar that screams my name!

Lord, let this be a real truth for us today, that you are real food and drink for our weary and hungry, thirsty souls. Help us not just see this as “theology” but see it as real nourishment for us – so we taste and see that You are indeed, good. In Jesus’ filling name, Amen.

Heather Yates

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