Monday, June 2, 2008

Three square meals

I'm not a very good eater. I admit that straight out. As a child, I left food on my plate, was picky, and handed what I could get away with to the dog hiding at my feet. And breakfasts were especially terrible for me. We were roused each morning by the blaring of the local radio program "Coffee-pot Parade" over the radio-intercom in our house. The music started immediately following "Grange Dateline," which came on just before 6am, which I hated--and covered my head with my pillow every single day--because who wanted to hear, "57,000 members of WA state grange present Farm news and views, how they affect you."? Once the farmers quit talking, we'd hear great songs like, "Those were the Days, My Friends," "Tie Me Kangaroo Down," and "Windy", and by then my mother would be yelling at me through the intercom to get up to my place at the table, where I'd stare at the congealing bowl of oatmeal with my arms stubbornly crossed. I hated mornings, breakfast, hot oatmeal most of all--I hated it as much as my mother was determined that we all eat together, though why she wanted a sullen, half-asleep me, I'll never know. And that oatmeal, which I refused at threat of death to eat for breakfast, would then be kept for me to eat in the afternoons to enjoy. Sigh. I was never one for that three meals a day stuff.

"Give us this day our daily bread..."*

Daily bread---'three square meals is how Eugene Peterson puts is in The Message. Breaking bread in Jesus' Name is where He meets us (He tells us so in the upper room, where He breaks bread with His disciples), where we sit around a table and share bread together. And it's a very basic thing Jesus bids us ask the Father in this first actual petition of the Lord's prayer. Daily bread. Food for the day. It represents a fundamental staple of human existence. From the Old Testament, we have the story of God providing daily manna--daily flat bread or naan (which I love--maybe my mother should have tried serving me that for breakfast!!) --in the wilderness. Daily bread. They were given exactly enough for the day, no more and no less, simply one day at a time (except the day they were to save it for the Sabbath).
Proverbs 30:7-9 speaks of this daily bread:
"Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."

What hits me about both the story and the Proverb is that God intent for us--His best for us is that we get what we need, not what we want. He intends daily bread, not daily extravagance, or daily waste. We live in a world where there are starving people, people without daily bread, so how do we pray with our plenty for our daily bread, in the face of their want? Pray for three square meals? What do we need? Not only about bread and food, but about our lives?

And ordinary bread that fills us up must mean something else here as well. Jesus says He is the bread of life. In John 6:30, Jesus makes the first of the "I Am" statements. He says, "I AM the bread of life." Think about this with me for a moment. He tells us to ask for our daily bread, but also says, "I AM the bread of life." It isn't a stretch to realize what He is asking us to pray for daily. As important as the three square meals we need, we need Jesus. We must be fed by the bread of life. We need Him. It isn't a want, isn't a daily extravagant feast, but a fundamental need to be filled by Him. "Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (6: 35) Again in the last Supper, Jesus says this, "This bread is my body, given for you, this cup is my blood poured out for you." Food and drink that symbolizes the salvation of our lives. We need this. In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks of believers as the 'being saved ones.' Salvation as a daily process rather than a one time event. Of course it's both and, rather than either or. But perhaps the process includes the daily manna of Jesus. Jesus as manna in our lives.

Daily bread--'give me this daily, my "I Am the bread of Life." ' I might not ever manage Peterson's three square meals (especially if one of those meals is breakfast and includes oatmeal!), but maybe I can ask Him for "give me my daily Jesus." What do you think? And maybe, as I pray more carefully, more fairly about what I need versus what I want, in terms of the world and myself; for the world and for myself, I can pray this as well. Three square meals of Jesus. Not a bad prayer.

(this blog contains excerpts from devotionals I've written)

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