A Patient Expectation

Play along. Imagine you drive up to a restaurant. Even before you walk in the door, you are hungry. The door swings open and you are washed with a flood of aromas — breads, spices, warm and inviting. Your stomach agrees with your selection and urges you on.

Now you are seated at the table, and the server hands you a menu.  Your eyes take in all the possibilities. Choices, options, suggestions, pairings and combinations of flavors, textures and details.

Another rumble and you find you want to hasten the process. You just desperately want to actually be eating and not reading. You want the food to be in front of you, not on a page. Somewhere in this moment is the notion of sustenance, the notion of what you “need” to eat, what would be good for you.

But the first and primary urge is on what you “want” to eat. You desire the desirable.

So finally, the order is placed, your stomach is tense and waiting, waiting. You are so hungry you almost feel sick and then  you…

 get up and walk out of the restaurant.

 A feast is being prepared for you, and you left the building.

Your stomach is in shock. Your server is stiffed, and your body has been robbed of much needed fuel. You are angry and unsatisfied.

Now suppose you turn around and say, “the restaurant didn’t answer your request.”

When you come to the table of God, come with a patient expectation. Come hungry, and come with a willingness to believe that He is preparing a feast for you. He knows and responds to the desires of your heart and the needs of your heart to keep you well fueled. Come to the table. And wait for the meal to arrive. Don’t get up and leave and say God doesn’t answer you. Wait and expect. Ask and receive. Though it tarry, wait for it.

But as it is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” 1st Corinthians 2:9

Fresh from the Garden

Food is a God idea. Just like sex, beauty, companionship, intimacy, work – all these things were part of the Garden of Eden.  God says that male and female were made in His image and that they were to co-rule over creation. A part of that creation’s purpose was/is to provide food. “And God saw all that He had made and it was very good.” (Genesis 1)

So food is a good, God idea. Even after the fall and the flood, God still provided food and expanded the menu to include more than plants and fruit. (Genesis 9)

But.  Even before the new testament, where grace abounds, there are warnings against indulgence. Not for the health’s sake, but for the heart’s sake. When God told us, “Have no other gods before me,” He was trying to give us boundaries to thrive within. He was trying to tell us the secret of healthy hearts and bodies.

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In the Garden and today, the idea is for God to be  rightly placed in our lives, and thus everything else falls into its rightful place.

One issue I take with almost all diet related programs is they do the “don’t touch” method. I am thinking of one friend who was so bound up in her weight and food mania that she planned out her very strict diet for the week. She would eat one meal, which did not satisfy her, and then she would immediately begin to obsess about her next snack or meal. Was she dependent on God, was she thankful, was she looking at her heart more than her scales?

The resolution is not more white knuckling. The issue is not eat less of this or that. The first issue is the condition of our hearts. What is God trying to tell us?  When I was addicted to Diet Coke, it was my reward, my relief, my aspirin, my gold star. I used it when I was sad, mad, celebrating, or punishing myself.  I had formed a kind of relationship with an object. And then God said, “I want you to come to Me for all these things.” When He showed me this, I fasted from Diet Coke for 30 days. I was amazed at just how entangled I was in this seemingly innocent indulgence. I had to learn to replace my habit with intimacy with God.

Why would He do that? Why even care?  Because I was not wired to think about, dwell on, look forward to, depend on anything but God.  Can I enjoy a Diet Coke now? Yes, but there is no emotion, no need to it. It is simply a drink. And it is a beautiful warning signal.  When I “need” one, when I notice I have had too many, the Lord uses it to prick my heart: “Take a look Jana, how is your heart?”

So how is your heart?

Delicious Deception

There is a lot of effort, advice, and energy surrounding our issues.  I am thinking of food in particular. It is a tragic trend to study.

Chuck and I have seen the odd parallel rise among the sexes. As men turned to porn for relief, excitement and comfort, women turned to food for the same. For both there exists a deception of love and acceptance.  We form “relationship” with an object. We turn to a seductive picture of a body and how it promises to momentarily makes us feel. We turn to a seductive picture of a food item and how it promises to momentarily make us feel.

I kid you not in Walmart last year, there was a calendar display that stopped me suddenly. Side by side. Maxim and Desserts. It was such a telling moment. Two different calendars, one simple lie. A year full of fantasy.

What flavor ? Red head or strawberry? Brunette or banana split?

For both sexes, the compass of True North is broken.  Or maybe instead of True North, the compass of Truth is broken.  We turn to something other than Truth to define, comfort, heal us.

Sure, sure we know that. We only have to look at our out of whack minds and bodies to see this doesn’t work. But now what? Is joining another “don’t touch, don’t eat” group going to really heal the hurt and hunger inside?

For today, I want to suggest you begin a conversation with God and ask Him: Where do I go when I hurt?

It is not a quick conversation. But a slow dawning. Like the sun coming up, the sky goes from black to gray to full light. Ask the Lord to bring you revelation. Before you tear down idols, you have to know the Truth. So let’s begin there.

by Shane Barnard and Shane Everett

Clean I call you clean
I came to clean you and it’s done
Here’s a call to all who’ve
Felt disqualified to run
Pleasures flowing here and there
From my right hand
What’s mine is yours
Come behold all of who I am

You and I will run
You and I will run forever
All is done
You and I will run

Come with what you do not have
And buy what’s undeserved
Feast and drink, the bounty’s great
I know you hear
But have you heard
Have you heard

I’ve called you clean!
“I am dirty”
“So unworthy”
That’s what I’m wanting

You and I will run
You and I will run forever
All is done
You and I will run

“Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
(Is 55:1)

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21)