To the true disciple a miracle only manifests the power and love which are silently at work everywhere as divinely in the gift of daily bread as in the miraculous multiplication of the loaves. ~Fredrick William Robertson
I have noticed a trend in my life lately. God has taught me in my life thus far that if I notice a trend, an echo, to stop and to pay attention. That this is somewhere where He is at work.
This is what has been happening… recently, whenever a friend asks me how they can pray for me, I have the same answer…
This isn’t an intentional answer, or a rehearsed response, but instead the heartfelt response to what I need in that moment. When it happened today for the third time in a week, I realized that there was something deeper happening here. What is it that I am asking for?
There are only a few things in my life that I know in my bones. Just a handful of lessons that were so hard-fought that I do not doubt them at all. God’s unwavering faithfulness is one of those truths.
So what is it that am I asking for? I know that God will provide, so what is it that I need? As I look more deeply into the request, I realize that I am not so much asking for God’s provision (which I know will arrive). Instead, I am asking for the clarity to see that provision for what it is. The daily miracle. Blessings given by my Father, instead of just things working out as I hoped they would. I want to have the eyes to see. To be attuned and expectant so that when the daily bread arrives, I see it for the blessing that it is. To stop and be thankful, instead of taking things for granted. To hear the whispers of God’s answers when I am straining so desperately to hear.
But here is another thing. When the Israelites were in the desert, they had the literal miracle. Miraculous bread from the sky, to be gathered at dawn. A daily delivery for 40 years. And still, they tried to hoard it. To gather a bit more than they needed, a buffer against hard times. I do this too. Hoping for more than just the energy and patience to get through the day. Wanting more than just a moment of time by myself in prayer, or with my kids before bedtime. I am always hungry for more. And yet God is in the business of giving exactly enough.
One place where I see this show up so often is at the table. I am blessed, so very blessed to be a human on this planet who does not have to worry about having enough to eat. I can eat to satisfaction at any point during the day. And yet, with each meal, I find myself eating more than enough. One more bite. One more taste. One more treat. Why? I don’t have a reason. Or my reason is… because it is there.
So my challenge to myself is this: Leave a bite. It seems so small, so trite, when I write it down. But I have a feeling this one may be the hardest one I set for myself this year. Leaving a bite on the plate is a metaphor, an act of trust, of walking in faith that God will provide. But it also may break the weird hold that food has over me.
Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25
My life is so much more than food and clothing. Yet both of those things are where I turn for comfort. To boost my mood or cheer myself up. Calories or commerce. Those are my two crutches. Leaving a bite of food is an act of defiance to my secret sin. It is me saying… no. I choose to look elsewhere.
Also, the principle of self-sacrifice has been something that has resonated with me lately. Leaving a bite, for me, seems like the first step in that direction. Here are the words from John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping that have got me thinking in this direction…
Sometimes the smallest acts of sacrifice or self-denial can break up hard soil. A friend of mine sent me a few sentences from an article she saw online on “How to Stay Christian in College”: . . . make small sacrifices. Make a vow to wake up and go to breakfast every morning, even if your first class isn’t until eleven a.m. Choose a plain cheese pizza rather than pepperoni. You’ll be surprised how these tiny sacrifices work an interior magic, shifting your focus ever so slightly away from yourself.
What would happen in my life if I was less focused on myself and my needs, and more focused on others? I think it may be time to try and find out…