Monday, February 2, 2009

Necessary

What's the one thing you absolutely have to have in your house (and toilet paper doesn't count--that goes without saying, or it better!!!)? For Beve and me, it's peanut butter.  A couple of weeks ago, when J was in Washington DC, E and I realized that we'd run out, and we panicked, until E remembered that J had a small jar of Jif in his bedroom.  With non compunction whatsoever, I went into his holy of holies and grabbed his jar.  I didn't even tell him (though I'm assuming he's figured it out).  Even though it was smooth, and Beve and I are crunchy people, it served the purpose until Beve answered our SOS and came home with a Costco two-pack.
Just a few minutes ago, Beve walked into the room with an overflowing spoonful. What could be better? But then, we put peanut-butter (or pindakaas, as the dutch call it) on lots of things: apples, pancakes, waffles, celery...and bread of every kind.

Peanut butter and bread, what could be better?  Bread is also one of my favorite things.  I'd eat a piece of good bread over icecream.  In a heartbeat.  We buy good bread, but what I like the best is Oatmeal Molasses, which Beve makes--almost often enough for us.  I'm not kidding, I love it. It's dense and chewy and  filliing.  Toasted, with peanut butter and homemade applebutter (I've made and consumed about half a dozen jars all by myself since September), it's my go-to food of choice.  Some might call it an addiction, but I really need bread.

The need for food--for bread--is fundamental.  If we're alive, we need nourishment.  Without it, we die.  It's that simple.  And, in the prayer given to His disciples, when Jesus finally gets around tothe petitions that are related to us rather than God, it's about the simple, unvarnished truth that we must eat to live.  This prayer makes us take seriously that we both need, and that it is HE who is in charge of giving us bread. It's such a basic thing Jesus bids us ask the Father.  Daily bread.  Food for the day, a fundamental staple of human existence.  Not exotic cake, not haute' cuisine. Only what we need.

This is true about all our prayers.  We must discover what it is we actually need, not (as I was saying the other day) what we think we want.  Our lists of wants are long.  And it's easy to get this point of the prayer too quickly. And then when we finaly get here, when we've glorified Him, surrendered to Him, asked Him how we can participate in the Kingdom, and we're quiet with Him, it isn't what we want that is important, it's what we actually need.  So the question I have, is what do you need?  What food, what spiritual food, what in this world do you actually need for this day that He's telling us to ask for?  Ordinary bread--like the wonderful, filling bread Beve makes-fills us up (in fact, one single slice is enough for me). It satisfies.  And that's what He is talking about.

Of course, He's also talking about the other Bread that satisfies as well.  "I Am the Bread of Life," He says in John 6:35.  Moses was given daily bread by God, bread that floated right out of the heavens to fill the Israelites' physical hunger.  Now Jesus turns that idea on its head.  He is actually that bread of life.  He inhabited the actual manna that fell from the sky in the wilderness; but is more significantly the living bread that will satisfy every hunger--physical, spiritual, emotional.  "I am the living bread, which people may eat and not die."  That bread of Life is necessary for us...in every way.  Jesus--our rich, perfect bread--is what we must have, or we die.

This convicts me, of course.  I get caught up in praying for what I want--for fancy cakes, fancy answers, fancy everything.  I need this reminder that He's simple and clear, and promises to be what I need.  For myself, for Beve, for our children, for our parents, our friends...for the world. Just give us bread, Lord, and give it today.  Then tomorrow, give it again. And we'll be thankful.

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