When I think about my life before I became a Christian, there really is one refrain that sums it up best, and it comes in the form of the famous lyrics of the Rolling Stones:
“I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try….”
This is a succinctly accurate, if not a bit trite, summary of my journey. When I came to Christ, (to quote two very different songs) I really did feel like my “chains fell off” and my once blind eyes could “now . . . see.” But as I go through this new journey, on a new path, I have to be honest and say that there are some days when I still feel very disappointed with life.
The reason for this continued lack of satisfaction is well explained by C.S. Lewis:
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to be run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”
Even though I have experienced God’s forgiveness, I have trusted Him with my life, and I have seen the kind of joy that His truth brings when I follow Him, I still often get busy with life, forget about His truth, and get very distracted by things around me in this world. I worry about money; I want to rest; I feel frustrated when things don’t go as I had expected. The root of this problem begins when I focus on the things around me rather than on Him. Instead of spending time with Him, when I feel busy I want to find time to relax. But spiritual rest—real rest—only comes from God. He is the one who can give me comfort, rest, and satisfaction. If I’m running to other things, I’m not going to find it. Even though He gave us so many good things to enjoy, God doesn’t want me to find my goal and satisfaction in anything but Himself.
As David wrote in Psalm 34:8,
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
I love this picture of tasting the goodness of the Lord. It’s a savoring that takes time and a conscious decision to partake. In order to taste something, we first have to decide to take the time to eat it. And what David is talking about here doesn’t seem to be a small sampling to see if the flavor meets our approval but a multi-course meal that leaves us fully satisfied.
In the Bible, we can find multiple illustrations of this mundane act of tasting and eating food as a lesson for how necessary and enjoyable God is in our life. And my mind, which has been trained in the art of literary illusions, begins to ponder these things…
This may be like asking, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” but I often think about the illustrations in the Bible, and I wonder, did God include that illustration simply because it’s so apt to our life, or did He create us that way so that He could then use this illustration to help us understand a larger principle?
This is a question I think about when I think about the way the Bible talks about food. When God created us, He designed our bodies so that they need food. But why did He do that? He could have made us any way He wanted. Why do we need to eat? Why did God create food at all—why not make all plants simply beautiful to look at?
I think it’s very possible that one reason God did this is to give everyone a clear picture of how much we need Him. We spend every day of our lives thinking about food, usually many times during the day. We feel hungry, and we think about what our next meal will be.
In John 6:33, Jesus tapped into this human necessity in order to describe Himself:
“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Jesus tells us that He is the giver of life. He uses a picture of the most common food for the people in Israel at that time, and He says, “You need bread if you want to keep living. And you need Me if you want to live spiritually!”
Each day, when we come to Him, He will give us life and satisfy our hungry souls.
Job also describes the words of God in a similar way:
“My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.” (Job 23:11-12)
God designed us so that we need food and we enjoy food. He is the same: we desperately need Him for life, and we also receive pleasure and joy from Him.
Sadly, there are days when I think about and enjoy food more than Him. But Job understands what God can be in our life: He is even more precious than the food that we must have in order to live. He is the Bread of Life. So, next time I sit down to that delicious bowl of Mac and Cheese, or the gourmet meal that my friend made for me to enjoy, it’s appropriate and good for me to remind myself of what should really be fueling my life.
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