Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Tomato Soup of Existence

I started fasting again. Not because of a certain event or time of year--but because of reading God's Word to Isaiah (see the bottom of this post). It's been a while, but it's oh-so-good for me when, by God's grace, I can set aside one day a week to refrain from eating. It's not a big deal. It's not impossible. It's just that I don't eat from after supper one night until supper time the following night.

I began by asking, "What do you want me to pray about, God?" Nothing. Nothing came to mind, so I asked myself, is it enough to simply obey? To seek God? To desire to please Him without sensing a specific need? Of course. So when the hunger pains reminded me of my desire for food, I was reminded of a greater desire and need for God Himself.
Yesterday the discomfort was almost overwhelming in mid-afternoon. I heated up some soup. Drank some milk. And the thought came, "This will not satisfy me."I folded clothes, reminded of the people and blessings God has given: these will not satisfy me. I thought of the dreams I have, of desires for far-off things: these will not satisfy me. I remembered past dreams met: those did not satisfy me. And the beauty of yesterday's fast was that realization. The things we have now; that we see, feel, taste, touch, hear, want, long-for, seek after, will not satisfy. They are not enough; will never be enough. They're the tomato-soup of my earthly existence. They coat the ache. They ease the discomfort. But they don't do the job. The benefit is short-lived and minimal.

What I need is God Himself. What I need is life that fills my soul (eternral life now! not just in the hereafter). And that is only possible through Jesus. How beautiful that, through Jesus, I am brought near to God--me, the one who was far away, the one who had no hope (Ephesians 2:12-13; 1 Peter 3:18). Through Jesus, I can come boldly to God's throne in my time of need to find mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16). Through Jesus, I can "continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15).

Praise God that He is enough. That He is mine and I am His. He is the bread of life. The real stuff. He is what I need.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live..." (Isaiah 55:1-3)

“Cry loudly, do not hold back;
Raise your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their transgression
And to the house of Jacob their sins.

“Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of God.
‘Why have we fasted and You do not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’
Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And drive hard all your workers.

“Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.
You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.

“Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?

"Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?

“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.

“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

"If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot
From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable,
And honor it, desisting from your own ways,
From seeking your own pleasure
And speaking your own word,
Then you will take delight in the Lord,
And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  Isaiah 58

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