Take, and eat

Becky Lynn Black has been fighting cancer for many months now, and recently she learned that the battle is far from over. Her essay is a meditation on how to respond to the news, and I recommend it all to you. I found this part especially helpful.

Today as I got up from a nap, the Lord met me with a new understanding. To choose Him & His way means to live according to the Truth of Scripture. What does this mean, practically-speaking?

It’s like eating a meal. The food is before me on the plate. I can acknowledge the reality of its presence. I can see it. I can discuss it with others. But it does me no good, sitting on the plate. I must first make the decision to eat the food, and then I must act on that decision by lifting it piece by piece into my mouth. Once in my mouth, I chew on it, savoring the taste, considering its texture, interacting personally with it. But it still does me no good. I am more intimately involved with the food, but I can still spit it out.

I have not committed to it until I swallow it. Only after surrendering to it, after allowing it to pass the point of no return, do I gain any benefit from it.

Because with that decision to swallow I set in motion the largely-unconscious absorption of the food into my own body. Blood carries the food to my cells, and my cells now have strength for their work. It is the act of swallowing (not the looking at the plate, not the chewing, but the swallowing) that makes it possible for me to absorb the benefit of the food, so that the food becomes part of me and empowers me.

Truth is like that food. It is real. It is discussed. It is sitting on the plate waiting to see who will “eat”. Truth is the Scriptures, “cooked” by God Himself and placed in front of us. “Come and eat”, He says.

So we gather around the table. We ‘oo’ & ‘ah’, commenting to each other what a wonderful meal. (“Great sermon!”)   In our neat little Bible Studies we discuss the colors, the scents, the layout on the plate . We set up hypothetical situations in which the Truth could be beneficial. A few of us, a very few of us, get brave and put a bite into our mouth. We chew on it. We think & meditate on it. We discuss it with the Lord. We test it against our private thoughts. We wonder if we should trust it and take the swallow.

Only the courageous amongst us go so far as to swallow. Most of us prefer to just slowly starve to death, looking at the plate of Truth, happy to sit around the table with others, from time to time bravely tasting a bit, but never committing to the swallow. Never daring to go beyond the point of no return. Perhaps this is what Jesus referred to when He said “The way is narrow, and few there are who find it.”

Few amongst us are willing to commit to the swallow.

I’ve worked in several corporations, and the response to crisis was almost universally to talk about options for dealing with it—and then to talk some more. I think that the reluctance to commit to some course of action, although foolish, was understandable: deciding what to do was also deciding what not to do, while continuing to talk left all the options open. As long as no choice had been made, nobody was responsible for having made a wrong choice.

Understandable, because human wisdom is at best imperfect and there is never any guarantee that it will choose correctly. But also foolish, because to avoid choosing is as a practical matter the same as rejecting all the options. Fear of failure guarantees that you will fail; paralysis spares you from walking the wrong paths, but also prevents you from walking the right ones.

It’s good to know your Bible. But it’s not good to put off living according to that knowledge with the excuse that further study is called for. The truths of scripture can be pondered endlessly, but they are also straightforward and lie on the very surface of the text. Further study will not overcome your reluctance to obey—in fact, it may increase it as it persuades you that further study is a good unto itself.

Take, and eat. Don’t forget to swallow.

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One thought on “Take, and eat

  1. Rick,

    “The truths of scripture can be pondered endlessly, but they are also straightforward and lie on the very surface of the text.”

    While going through some of my grandfather’s papers after his passing, I discovered a scrap on which he had written his thoughts on the depth of the phrase “Jesus loves me”. It floored me that a 96 year old man who had walked with Jesus all his life was still exploring the depth of the simplest of phrases from a children’s song, based on scripture.

    I love your statement quoted above. It is another of those great paradoxes we enjoy in this journey of faith. It is why the gospel is simple enough that child-like faith is sufficient, yet profound enough that we never get our arms completely around it.

    Greg

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