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The food that sustains
May 30, 2011
by Pastor Tom Starkjohn, Harvest Community Church, W

Once, there were two pilgrims who met by chance. Asking of each other’s welfare, the one commented to the other that he didn’t look very well. “When was the last time you ate?” he asked.

“Oh,” the other replied, “four or five weeks ago.”

Shocked, the first asked in concern, “Have you no food? I would gladly share mine with you!”

The famished man declined, explaining that his food was in his knapsack.

“Well then, why haven’t you eaten?” asked the confused pilgrim.

“Oh, I think about it quite a bit, but to be honest, after a while the hunger pains go away. Sometimes I chew on some twigs or grass, or I suck on some pebbles (all in easy reach, you know). I’m getting alone fine, really.”

Shaking his head in sadness, the first pilgrim watched the weak and weary pilgrim wander off.

To make sense of this little parable, I want to share a verse with you from the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible: “And God humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (8:3). Jesus himself affirms the truth of this verse in Luke 4:4.

Because we are spiritually blind, God has given us physical means to communicate a spiritual truth. Physical food (manna) was provided to the Israelites in their desert wanderings so that they would know that God provides them with spiritual food that sustains them – his Word. The same is true for us today – God provides us with physical food so that we know that our spirits need spiritual food, and that spiritual food is God’s Word.

Let’s return to our little story. If someone looks gaunt and weak, we know something is wrong – they are malnourished. But if we find out that they have access to food and yet don’t eat it, they must be sick. And if they choose to eat grass and gnaw on twigs instead, something is desperately wrong.

How many people who claim to be Christians are spiritually sick and have no appetite for the things of God? How many are malnourished, and crazily look for nourishment in the twigs and pebbles of the world, rather than in the Bible?

Just as a physical body needs food every day to be healthy, so, too, the soul needs daily food to be healthy. No one would say, “I had a snack last Sunday. I don’t need any more food.” Yet, that is what so many of us do – we think, we went to church, and that’s enough to get us through the week.

For millennia, it has been recognized by godly men and women that daily time in the Bible is a necessary part of maintaining spiritual health. When was the last time you were nourished by God’s Word?