I was getting ready for work recently one morning, and my wife asked what I wanted for breakfast. She then asked if I needed something to go or if I had time to sit down and eat. Seeing as I’m one of those people that habitually run late (shameful, I know), I’m pretty sure she already knew the answer, but politely ran it by me anyway. “To go, for sure!” I said. “Egg sandwich okay then?” she followed. “Sounds good” I replied.
Didn’t think any further about it as I rushed out door with a neatly wrapped sandwich in one hand and work stuff in the other. I kissed the wife and the baby, and then I was off. I drive a car with a manual transmission (stick rules btw) so I normally wait until I hit the main road if I’m eating on the fly. Rural area, long straight drags… it’s just easier that way.
So, I began to unwrap my still warm sandwich. The bread was a golden brown color with a touch of burnt crispness along the edges. At first bite, I realized that this was no ordinary egg sandwich… but perhaps the “perfect” egg sandwich? That little ball of cholesterol had been perfectly cooked and seasoned with just the right amount of salt and pepper. And then there’s the cheese… Oh the cheese. I don’t know if it was an oversight or not (and I really don’t care), but it seemed as if there were TWO pieces of the dairy delight melted together for the collective cause. I attacked the innocent meal voraciously like it was my last. Bite after bite of cheesy, buttery, eggs-y goodness. It so moved me, that at one point, I audibly shouted with a mouth half full, “This touches my soul!” Out loud. In the car. By myself. It happened. Wondering if I had been possessed by the chicken spirit, or if I had just developed an alternate personality, or if I was just inexplicably impressed by the savor of the sandwich; I began thinking about what I had just involuntarily exclaimed.
Here in the south, the food is good. If there is a vast collection of really, REALLY good food, you might call it, “soul food.” I doubt you could designate or limit exactly which dishes classify as soul food, but one thing is certain. Soul food isn’t prepared with health in mind. Fat free? No way. Sugar free? Negative. Gluten free? You better just go on home. This type of food is prepared with two goals in mind: One, to fill you up, two, to taste really good. That’s about it. Sit down for a Sunday lunch with some soul food and be prepared to use that other belt loop.
But you know, as tasty as the best food may be, and as comforting as it may seem, the harsh reality is, food doesn’t truthfully touch the soul. I mean, while incredible pleasure is gained from culinary creations, that pleasure is, at last, temporary. That’s what keeps us going back for more, and more and more. We can’t ever seem to get completely “filled up”. When we go out to eat, it basically takes an act of Congress to decide which restaurant we’re going to patronize. Why? Because we don’t want to miss out on that meal that is going to make us happy for the time being. It’s almost as if it’s a drug with a permanent hold on us (topic for another day). Don’t get me wrong, food is absolutely necessary for life and for living, and I believe we are totally in bounds to enjoy it, but like many other things, I think we put all too much stock in the comfort it provides.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”
Sound familiar? Those are the words of the Son of God Himself in response to one of the devil’s temptations in the wilderness.
The Christ had just fasted for forty days. Forty days is a LONG time without food. Jesus must’ve been extremely hungry and was likely physically weak. You have to admit, it wouldn’t have been much of a challenge for Him to do something about it either. I mean, all the liar said was, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Now, to me and you, that would’ve been a bit of a stretch, but to the Creator of the entire universe? Simple as a walk in the park. Boom! Basket o’ bread sticks. But, he didn’t do that. He also, didn’t simply resist the devil. What He did was give us, in written form, the backbone of Christian living. It is the principle, yea, even the command to not only feed off of fleeting food, but also the Bread of Life… which is God’s Word.
Several years ago, I was indirectly charged by a minister to place a higher priority on spiritual food than physical food. The challenge was to not consume physical food until I had read the Bible, at least a chapter, each day. In other words, no Bible, no biscuit. Now, in a perfect world, I would’ve risen early in the morning, sat out on the porch with coffee in hand, and read the Scriptures for an hour or two while birds sang gleefully in the background. That did actually did happen… a couple of times. But, being the way that I am, I would often find myself at work with a grumbly belly and a thought on my mind, “Why Josh, why?” I’d usually squeeze a few verses in before lunch, but still, it was rough for a few months. You know what began to happen though? I started to realize that, while food was definitely important, the Word of God was more important. I learned that those Words gave me what I really needed. Those precious Words satisfied my soul for more than three hours. I could read a verse, and it would stick with me all day, and sometimes much longer. It truly filled me. I began to realize that, while missing a meal is rough, missing the Master is rougher.
As one who ministers to people, I wish I could tell you that I always rise way before dawn and read the Bible for an incredibly lengthy time followed by an hour of prayer. But I can’t tell you that. Truthfully? Some days, I end up heading out the door for work, and am lucky if I get to read a chapter before I leave. And to be brutally honest, on other days, I don’t stop long enough to read Scripture at all before I start my day. Coincidentally, do you know what seems to happen on those ‘other’ days? I become more easily frustrated. People seem incredibly irritating. I can’t seem to stay focused. Minor challenges seem like major catastrophes. However, it is on those days, that I get a glimpse of exactly how much I need Him. I begin to realize that my own burden is really heavy and His burden truly is light.
Sidebar for a moment. To me, walking with God works somewhat like a shock absorber works on an automobile. If you have ever ridden in a vehicle with bad shocks, I guarantee that you have become immediately aware of every single bump in the road. Every pebble, every crevice and every curve becomes your sworn enemy. You must tediously plan your route with much forethought because potholes act as potentially debilitating landmines to your poor car and may even be hazardous to your own health. When your shock absorbers work properly however, they do exactly what their name implies, they absorb the shocks of the roadway. The potholes, the crevices, the curves, the rocks… they are all still right where they were, but the severe effects are not. You barely even notice them anymore. You can rest easy as you cruise along, because you essentially have a cushion buffering you from the harshness of hazardous highways. As you walk with the Lord, life still has it’s bumps, but it seems like those bumps are much more tolerable and manageable somehow.
The way I see it, you can either do life with God or you can do life without Him. It’s really that simple. You can continue to seek after the temporary pleasures of this world in food, possessions, money, power, approval, relationships, etc, or you can choose to seek the lasting Promises of His Word. It’s solely your choice. One will leave you empty and wanting every… single… time… while the other will leave you full and completely satisfied in perpetuity. It must be on purpose too; no one walks with God by accident. It’s not enough to post, “Praying” on social media. You must proactively pursue God passionately. Don’t know where to start? Take comfort in James 4:8a, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” No matter who you are, where you’ve been or what you’ve done; He is waiting on you to take that step towards Him.
Sometimes, God will use the the most unseemly thing to get our attention. Maybe even something as simple as a sandwich.