I wrote the following to be part of a devotional booklet for Lent for one of our home churches. It never got very finished, but it reflects some important truth I learned during what was a very difficult time for me. I debated about whether to write it up and send it out because Tab’s illness was fairly dramatic and provoked some serious drama in my spiritual journey. While i don’t want to write just to be sensational, I’ve decided that what i learned might benefit someone else. So forgive my mess and drama while embracing the stunning testimony of Christ’s incarnation and death. If you’ve found yourself wondering where God was in your mess and if he cared, stare with me for a while at the bread of heaven who came down to earth and was broken for us.
When physical and spiritual hunger ambush a weary pilgrim in the desert, things get confusing–like a bad Kung-Fu movie.
The Jews, starving for God’s kingdom, went looking for Jesus in the wilderness, fixated on filling their bellies with fishes and loaves–a mere sign of the Feast that was before them.
As my better half lay sweating on a hospital bed, pale as death, my worse half sobbed quietly in the bathroom. I asked God where in the Sahel he was and if he couldn’t throw this dog a bone ’cause the whole of me was dying.
As I was laboring through John 6 then next day, Jesus surprised the Jews and me by showing up in the desert. Neither I nor the Jews seemed to be following the dialogue. It was all lost in the translation/dubbing ’til I heard Jesus say, “Truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (53)
WHAT? Despite my excellent theological education–i had no idea what this really meant. But, i knew that i had to know–or you know, die. So, I immediately called two theologically astute friends and said, “i need to know what this means, RIGHT NOW.” They either thought I was joking or were afraid of my intensity and verbally backed away slowly without making any sudden movements.
So i rewound and re-watched the scene unfold trying to see beyond the dubbing and I latched on to verse 33:
“The Bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives his life to the world.”
Me and the Jews were looking for just a mouthful from the Messiah to last another day in the desert. That God Himself came to the desert is the bread of my eternal feast, that he then gave his life to save this world (and this sorry dog) is the heady drink that streams and pools in the desert, transforming it into paradise.
Come to the table.