I must offer a small explanation for a lack of recent blog posts. Our minister has been on vacation, and I offered to cover for him while he was gone. So I’ve been spending my time working on Sunday sermons rather than my blogs. Both are rewarding and profitable in that it requires thought and reflection on my part to craft something worthwhile. But they both take time.
You may find this a bit weird, but I get tired of thinking about food. To look at me you would probably doubt that; I certainly have the appearance of being very well-fed. What I mean is I get tired of having to almost constantly think about what I’m going to eat and then have to think about what it will take to prepare or obtain it. It’s my wife’s frequent complaint as well, and she’s more justified in making it since most of the prep work falls on her.
Humans, particularly those who don’t have to worry about where they’ll get their next meal, have almost an obsession with food. We insist on variety, on experiencing new tastes and concoctions, and often are willing to pay a premium price for it. The fancier the food, the more desirable (and usually the more expensive). I have had very few meals in truly high-class restaurants, but for the most part they didn’t satisfy more than any other meal. But that’s probably just me; I don’t have much use for fancy or sophisticated. Sort of a silk purse and sow’s ear type of situation.
All of this crossed my mind this morning as I read the story of Jesus and the Samaritan women. The disciples had left Jesus at the well of Jacob in order to go into town and buy something to eat. In their absence a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well. The conversation began with a request for a drink of water and ended with the woman excitedly running back to town to tell others about the man who told her everything about her life. The disciples showed up at the tail end of the conversation and probably wondered what had been said to elicit such a response.
Their response was interesting but typical. Rather than ask about the conversation, they were focused on the reason for their trip to town, which was food. Hence, their insistence that Jesus eat something. As a result they completely missed the meaning of his next statement. Jesus answered them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” All they could think was, “did somebody else bring him something to eat?” Jesus had just begun a great spiritual harvest, and the disciples could only think about lunch.
Before you get too critical of the disciples, stop and think: how many times have we done exactly the same thing? In fact, how many times have you done it already today? The things of this life, the tyranny of the here and now, the constant message that life is somehow incomplete without whatever the advertisement is selling; all tend to distract us from the truly important things. Higher things, spiritual things. God wants to teach us spiritual truths and we’re worried about what we’re going to eat for dinner.
Jesus warned us about it in what’s known as the Sermon on the Mount. “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?… So don’t worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For the Gentiles eagerly see all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” What he’s telling us here isn’t that food, drink, and clothing aren’t important, but they’re not the most important. We need to keep our focus on the things of eternal value, and God will supply the rest.
Whenever I read that passage, it reminds me rather painfully that my focus hasn’t always been where it needed to be. But I like to think maybe it’s getting a little better. I don’t spend a great deal of time on my wardrobe (which I hope isn’t that obvious). In reality I could fit all of my usual clothing into one dresser drawer and a small closet instead of the walk-in closet I need now. And I could survive nicely on the same basic meals every day. (I’ve considered laying in a fifty pound bag of beans, oatmeal and rice, and living off of them for the whole winter) I’m convinced God has a lot more to teach me, and I’ve barely scratched the surface, so why am I worrying about my next meal?
I hope you’ll think about these things as well. Time is the one thing we have in a very limited supply, so we need to spend it wisely. Seek the higher things of God and you won’t lack for the necessities. Desire the “food” that will keep you from being hungry, along with the water of life that will quench your thirst forever.