Thursday, May 22, 2008

Try Regular Meals--It Might Help

My purse is always full. In fact my sister teases me because my handbags are more like airport carry-ons and generally speaking you could find all things necessary for at least one week's survival on a deserted island. Life's like that too sometimes isn't it? Full of a million things that are necessary, and then overflowing with a second million things that probably aren't, life can become the suitcase that requires one person to sit on top while another attempts to zip it. Yikes! The last couple of weeks have felt that way for me--so many important things that can't go ignored. We needed to finish school, we're building a house, we have commitments at church, birthdays, guests for which to prepare, family emergencies, births, and well, you know what I mean. There are times when I feel like my brain is a tossed salad with all the wilting leftovers from the vegetable crisper thrown in. It's weeks like this when there is of course the temptation to stop doing the important things--time with God, eating right, exercising. Those are such basic fundamental things that we need and yet they are generally the first to go. These temptations are not unique to me and I realize that. I realize also that they are not a new phenomenon. They're the norm. Most of us face these choices every single day. Yet the thing that gets me is this: when we don't take time to feed on God's Word, we are literally running on empty. Last Saturday was so hectic that I realized around 2:00 in the afternoon I had never even bothered to eat breakfast or lunch. It wasn't until my hands were shaking and I felt weak that it dawned on me. I was literally running on fumes. Somehow in the midst of a thousand activities I just forgot to eat. (That's not normal for me!!) By the time I did actually sit down to eat my mind had gone fuzzy, my legs were wobbly and the last thing I wanted to do was lug that bulging purse around with me. I set it on the floor by the table and collapsed into a chair to eat. Sometimes, we forget to feed on God's Word and there are times when that goes on for days or weeks or even months. The tragedy though is that often we're not even aware how empty our spirits are--how void they are of the life-giving, strength-giving, nourishing Word of God. When we do finally come before God often we collapse into His arms utterly empty like I did at the table. It isn't a coincidence that Jesus said "Man cannot live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) He knew the importance of being filled with the eternal Words of our Heavenly Father. My eldest son even gets this concept. Just the other day as our family was celebrating a friend's decision to become a follower of Christ, Nathan said," Mom, she's gonna need to start to memorize scripture and read it. If she doesn't, she might forget what God has done and not keep following Jesus." Wow. That came from my eight year old's mouth. He reminded us of a story of another man who had given up a life of partying and rebellion to follow Jesus, but fell away not long after. Perhaps had he hidden God's Word in His heart things would have been different. (Psalm 119:11) In John chapter 6 we read the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. I've always wondered why Jesus performed that particular miracle. It just seemed odd to me that He would choose to feed all these people as opposed to healing more people. Recently though as I've been reading over this passage it occurred to me that Jesus gave those people a physical picture of what He wanted to do for them spiritually. In verse 6 it actually says "for He knew what he was going to do." I love that. Jesus knew exactly what He was planning, but He gave his disciples the chance to join in. He is intentional in our lives. He knows what He is doing and we have the choice everyday to join Him. He will accomplish His purpose irregardless of our choice, but when we choose to join in, we witness the greatness of our God. Later in verse ten he tells the people something that I believe to be key. He says "Have the people sit down." Man that is hard for us sometimes, isn't it? Just sit down and wait on Jesus to serve us? You've got to be kidding. We want to get up and get going--get started on the endless list of to-do's in our lives. But Jesus in the face of five thousand hungry men and their wives and children too said, "Tell them to sit down. I'll handle this." One man and at least ten thousand people total and he tells them to sit down! I bet he was thinking to himself "Man ya'll are clueless. I could feed you blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back and I could clean it up too." It's just so powerful to me that He specifically told them to sit. Psalm 46:10 is often quoted and for good reason. There are times in our lives when we need to simply "Be still and know that (He) is God." The New English translation says "Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!" Stop striving. Isn't that beautiful? If I had been there that day I know I would have been running up and down the rows of people taking an inventory of the food. I would have been on google looking for the local grocery store checking to see if I could get a discount on bread for such a large group. I would have been striving to help God. Are you like me in that? Are you striving to help the God of the universe accomplish the menial tasks of your life? If we in the midst of the beautiful fullness of our lives can learn to stop--stop for a bit of time once a day and close our eyes and picture the face of God before us. If we can look Him in the eye and say " God, you and you alone are God. There's nothing in my life that You aren't able to accomplish and handle. Fill me with Your word and may it so penetrate my being that I have baskets full left over to share with others..." then I believe we'll see the power of God in our lives. I don't' want to find myself in a spiritual condition where it's been so long since I've eaten that I can no longer see clearly, no longer focus on the author and perfecter of my faith. I don't want to find my spirit literally shaking because I haven't eaten the truths in God's Word regularly. I have to tell you though that the passage in John 6 is a sad one in many respects. Later on Jesus crosses the lake and another group starts following Him. Some of them are from the group that were fed and probably shared about what Jesus did with the loaves and fish because the passage says they went looking for Jesus. When they found Him Jesus says something very powerful. "I tell you the solemn truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate all the loaves of bread you wanted. Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to eternal life--the food which the Son of Man will give to you..." (John 6:27) These people didn't want Jesus. What they wanted were full bellies. They were looking for the benefits of Jesus, but they didn't care so much about Jesus Himself. So often when I come seeking Jesus I am sad to admit that I too am coming seeking His benefits. "Jesus, will you provide for this? Jesus will you work this out? Jesus will you help with this?" We want God to work out all of the matters of our day to day lives. The truth is He can work them out and He does, but our focus is completely wrong. Somehow we think that's the end of things, but this world is only the beginning. We work for the things that disappear. Nothing in this life is eternal except the contents of our souls. We need to go before Jesus and say "Fill our souls with the truths that moths and rust will not destroy." When we are filled with eternal things, we are not so quick to run out so to speak. Later Jesus says, "I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6: 35) This I believe is the reason He performed that miracle in the first place. It's absolutely critical that we realize how often we seek Jesus for physical, temporary reasons when He has eternal plans for our lives and wants to fill us spiritually. To never feel thirst or hunger in the core of our beings is an incredibly profound offer. Those days when we are lonely, sad, hurting, angry, empty, longing, lusting, desiring, needing--those are the very days we need to "sit down" before God and fill our spirits on His Bread of Life. I'm not talking easy, perfect lives with no feelings but good ones. I'm talking about being satisfied in the knowledge that we are loved by a God who has planned our lives and our future and knows every need we have and can meet it with hands behind his back and eyes blindfolded. This kind of knowledge requires regular eating at the table of His Word. Back to my purse--there's nothing I can really take out. I need the items in there. It's that way with my life too--the things that fill it are not superfluous items that could be removed. For some of us I'm sure we can free up our schedules a bit, but that's not my point today. My point is this--we carry heavy loads. But Jesus said, "Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) His desire is that we feast on Him, feast on the very words that come from the mouth of God and in so doing we would find rest and refreshment. May we not forget to eat. God's plan for our lives is one of abundance--He wants us to thrive. In order to thrive we must abide in Him. We must drink from His living water and eat the milk and honey of his Word. May we all join each other today and feast at His table. Lord, help us to slow down and take time before You and in Your Word. Thank you for feeding us with the nourishment we need spiritually to accomplish all of the physical things that fill our days. Amen. Read: John 15

No comments: