Late one evening, while driving home from a banquet that had been held to celebrate the end of the latest basketball season, I heard a voice pipe up from the nether-regions of my dark and messy Explorer:
“I didn’t get to eat.”
I forced my face to stay forward, eyes on the road, while I said, incredulously, “What?” (Read that with all the emphasis you can imagine. Because that’s how I said it.)
“I haven’t had dinner, Mom. I didn’t get to eat.”
I took a deep breath, willing myself to show grace and use this teachable moment. “What would Sally Clarkson say?” I thought to myself…
“You mean you were too busy hanging with your friends to eat, right? You mean you chose not to eat because you were having fun, right? Because when we left they were throwing out whole pans of spaghetti and meatballs and chicken alfredo…there was an entire banquet, a FEAST, laid out for you. There is absolutely no reason for you to be hungry except that you chose not to eat what was provided for you.”
I paused there, knowing that continuing to lecture would be overkill and that this sweet fun-loving (and now hungry) kiddo of mine had gotten the point. We arrived home, hungry child had a small snack, and everyone went to bed.
Then God started thunking me on the head.
You know the above-mentioned teachable moment I wanted to use to make a point to my child? Well, the Lord decided to turn that one on me.
He’s pretty faithful about doing that.
Proverbs 9:1-6 (MSG)* says…
Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home;
it’s supported by seven hewn timbers.
The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted,
wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.
Having dismissed her serving maids,
Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place,
and invites everyone within sound of her voice:
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread,
roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”
How often do I walk around hungry despite the literal banquet God has spread before me? He tells us He has everything we need in place. Every gift of the Holy Spirit is available to us, His beloved children. Like a mother who takes pleasure in feeding her growing children, who delights in watching them savor delicious food made by her own hands, our God has spread out a Kingdom feast and sits at the head of the table, waiting for us to join Him.
But, too often, we don’t. Despite the tantalizing smells of “fresh-baked bread, roasted lamb, and carefully selected wines” we run right past the table and try to live our lives on empty. “I’m not hungry!” we declare as we slam the door behind us and skip to the playground (work, school, relationships, life) not wanting to take the necessary time to fuel our spirits before engaging with this broken and dying world.
Then we hit the wall. We run out of energy and despair over our weakness. We stubbornly declare, “I didn’t have time,” but the truth is we didn’t want to make the time.
Because you know as well as I do the time is there.
It may mean setting the alarm earlier to spend quiet time with God before the rest of the family awakens. I could be choosing to listen to a podcast from a trusted Bible teacher or music that fills our minds with truth in the car (or while feeding babies). Maybe it involves putting down that magazine we had planned to thumb through in the doctor’s office to pick up a devotional or (wait for it) the actual Bible in our purse or even on our phone. Wherever we choose to carve it out, we have the time to consume the feast our God has prepared for us. It may not happen all in one sitting. In fact, it may mean we are taking small bites throughout the day. It’s not really about making time to feast on the Word, it’s about making the feast a priority.
And I’m telling you, sisters, that we will never walk in victory unless we are well-fed.
We cannot walk around starving and spiritually malnourished and expect to be effective in our marriages, our mothering, or any other area of life. Because the Word is life. Jesus is life. He sits at the head of the table, but the seats are too often empty. This has to stop! The culture is running at us, chasing down our families at breakneck speed, and we are so tired and distracted that we have no energy to fight! But fight, we must, or we will end up on our knees with a weak and broken spirit from years of malnutrition as we watch our homes crumble. It begins with small changes, tweaks in the schedule that we can make every single day. I’ve heard a good rule…”Work before play.” Well, how about, pray before work? Or sit at the feet of Jesus before logging in?
Verse six, above, says,
“Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”
Yes, that’s it! A hungry soul is an impoverished and confused soul! We cannot think clearly when we are hungry. Any parent knows this. We have all dealt with a “hangry” child…well, I would venture to guess that many of us are spiritually hangry. We struggle to find meaning to our lives, feel bitter and angry and tired, but the answer lies in stopping…eat, drink and be filled. Be still and know that He is God. He is our provider, our strength, our portion and our cup.
from that nourished and fulfilled state,
we can emerge from the safety of home to face the world and be effective, energetic laborers in the fields. We will no longer be searching for meaning, because meaning is found at the banqueting table. We will know who we are and Whose we are and be better able to live out of that truth, living forward and purposefully into who God created us to be at the very beginning…fully dependent, empowered disciples of Jesus Christ offering hope and life to a desperate and hurting world.
Our kids are watching. Our friends and families are watching. If we don’t lead them to the banqueting table and show them the value of sitting with the Lord, feasting on all He has to give us, who will?
*MSG refers to The Message. It is a modern paraphrase of the Bible. I like to use it when trying to clarify passages or get better understanding of context.