“Your words were found and I ate them. . .” Jeremiah 15:16
After fasting forty days and forty nights Jesus was hungry! Incredibly hungry. His body would have been screaming for sustenance. In one translation it says, “And the tempter came to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
Have you ever been really hungry? So hungry you are weak and not sure when your next meal would come? Most of us have not, short of being lost or imprisoned. But even in prison, the captives are usually fed. One thing I do know, the farther between meals we go, the weaker and more vulnerable we become. And that is where Jesus was, weak. Satan could tempt him with food, or so he thought.
Instead, Jesus called upon the Word of God and replied, “It is written, Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:1-4)
Is God my food? Do I see that God’s word is the basis of my very life? Is it like food and water to my soul? Or has it become an occasional snack when I feel those slight hunger pangs a few times a day. You know, those times when a few bites will do. Do we savor every morsel He’s written or do we approach his banqueting table as a buffet, picking and choosing the bits we prefer?
The prophet Isaiah proclaims this, regarding the birth of Christ our Lord: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” Isaiah 9:2
2 Tim. 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work. – Phillips
1 Peter 2:1-2 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment.
John 6:57-58 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
Psalm 119:9-16 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. I have recited aloud all the regulations you have given us. I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.
Hebrews 10:16-17 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
I knew a young man in the Navy who, after three years of good service went off the deep end, walked away from his duty assignments (more than once) and spent time in the brig (more than once). After getting his head adjusted, he was transferred to his final duty assignment, a Navy ship. On the first day, his immediate supervisor called him aside and said words something like this, “I know all about what you have done and I don’t care. I will judge you by what you do starting today. So if you want to get along here, just do your job and we will get along fine.” The sailor discovered that his supervisor was a man of his word which brought out the best in him. He was forgiven and was determined to show his supervisor how thankful he was.
How much more is our walk with Jesus like this relationship? He has taken on our sins and forgiven us forever. Shouldn’t we show our Lord how thankful we are by devouring His word?
Jer 15:16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
Visualize a triple layered cake of your favorite flavor. Before you cut into this beautiful domed treat, your taste buds are already hard at work, stimulating your sugary desire. This is the perfect moment. No guilt. No calories. No disappointment. So you savor this dreamlike moment just before you change it all by sliding a very sharp knife deeply into the center, easily cutting through the layers. And then again, completing that familiar wedge-shaped slice bringing you closer to the first anxiously anticipated bite.
Now on your plate, exposing the layers of color and texture, every inch promising delight, you carve an arc of pleasure with your fork, pulling it away from the slice and into your mouth. Oh, such delight and pleasure, literally melting in your mouth, not much chewing required. If you can, you exercise control, taking bite by bite, slowly savoring the succulent perfection until the final bits are smashed together with your fork. You did it. You loved it and now you should sit back, pour freshly brewed coffee and wash it all down sip by sip.
As in life, eating sumptuous, triple-layered cake demands discipline and restraint to be fully enjoyed. Once eaten, the first slice seems to be just a bit short of complete satisfaction. If only, you think, just one more taste…a few carefully consumed bites should do it…you’ll just have another small portion and call it good. Finished for now. Save the rest for later. Parse it out over time.
Then something happens. Something, if you’d admit to it, that could have been prevented. Instead of covering the cake, walking away to recall the tasty treat, you give in. The greed takes over. You quickly slice another piece–and not a miserly half-piece, a full-fledged, over-indulging piece of triple-layered cake, now waiting for you fully exposed on your dessert plate. Eat me now!
Unlike the first piece, this one demands to be eaten with gusto before you come to your senses and stop. Tear at the layers, rip them away from the whole. Eat quickly, don’t stop. Shove it in, all of it. Pay no attention to your body that tells you it is full. Take this slice and enjoy it because you will devour all of it.
Then, afterwards, sitting stuffed, unsnapping a button or two on those too-tight trousers, you wake from the hypnotic, self-indulgent greed-induced experience, wishing you had resisted the second slice and remained guilt free. But you didn’t. You gave in and instead of relaxing in peace, smacking your lips with pleasure, you are wallowing in the aftermath of greedy consumption, taking more than your share and certainly more than your need.
Funny how eating too much cake can be just like demanding too much from life. Taking more than you need even when that little inner voice warned you to stop.
At eleven years old, David had a great imagination. He often played by himself, becoming the hero and his arch enemy. Most of his games were daring and adventuresome like climbing to the tops of the tall eucalyptus trees, swaying in the breeze as he pretended to scout the horizon for enemy ships.
His favorite games involved fist-fights and gun or knife battles with himself (sometimes the bad guy won to be fought another day). After wrestling his dangerous foes, either he or they would tumble down the stairs, sprawling out onto the TV-room floor. This brought a scowl and warning from his mother.
“David, stop that, we’re trying to watch TV!”
Like any secret agent or daring cowboy, he paid no mind to the voice. After all, what could she know about his dangerous missions? Besides, she seldom punished him on the first warning.
His biggest challenge had been to find a way to use knives that looked as though they were sticking in him. As he pondered the idea he knew he needed some sort of padding hidden beneath his T-shirt that he could stab. That way the knife would be stuck into his shirt, as though he was stabbed. But what could he use? And then it became crystal clear; a package of hamburger!
His mother always bought her meats at the country market and they packaged them in butcher paper. He got a paring knife from the drawer and opened the fridge and scoured through the hamburger packages, measuring each one with the knife blade, looking for the perfect depth that would take the knife but not stick his body. In a few seconds he found the one. To make sure, he cautiously tested by putting the package beneath his shirt and slowly inserting the knife. It worked!
Now armed with a new weapon he could fight for his life until the final moment either he or his enemy lost the battle as the knife was pushed into his special-effects padding beneath his shirt. The final moment was always gritty and vein popping as one of his hands held the other wrist that held the knife. Ohh, he would exhale, reeling backwards with shock and pending doom, seeing the knife protruding from his chest.
Over and over he fought his imaginary enemies, each time ending the duel with a plunge of the paring knife into the package of meat. He was thrilled at his cleverness and realistic results. But, as all boys do, he tired at last of this game. He tossed the knife into the sink, the hamburger into the fridge and his soiled shirt into the dirty clothes. And thought no more about it. Until later.
“DAVID!” his mother called from the kitchen. He paused to reflect on what he’d done that day and could not think of anything worthy of trouble so he light-heartedly dashed into the kitchen.
“What is this?” she said, holding the package of hamburger with multiple stab wounds.
He told her his story hoping she would show mercy. She had to look away so he wouldn’t see her smiling. She composed herself. “And what did you do with your T-shirt?”
“Oh,” he was concerned now, “I put it in the dirty clothes.”
“Don’t ever do this again,” she said. “I’ll probably never get that shirt clean. And what about the holes? Go outside and play.”
As the back door closed behind him, he thought he heard his mother laughing like she’d just heard a great joke.