Friday, January 2, 2009

Our Daily Bread

When we read Psalm 23 we are reminded that God blesses us in many ways. Indeed he does, but I also wonder in what ways we understand that blessing. For example, I am sure we are all familiar with the second verse, “He makes me lie down in green pastures,” yet I sense that many people imagine a lust, green meadow. At least I had this image in mind, until recently.

I remember attending a Wednesday night bible study at my church. Our pastor had been using a video series on biblical images in the Holy Land. It was called “That the World May Know,” and the presenter, Ray Vander Laan, on this episode was standing in front of his tour group discussing the shepherd imagery in the Bible. From the video, I could see that it was a rather dry region. It was then that Laan had commented on the 23rd Psalm and shared that the “green pastures” were actually created by areas with enough water to allow thin patches of grass to grow. It was enough for the sheep to eat that day. The pasture within the desert is to remind us that God provides for daily needs.

I now wonder how we were led an imagery of lush abundance. From my view it seems like many of us in the U.S. believe that we deserve things to be bigger, better, and have it instantly. We get our fill and still want more. Many people like to listen to leaders, political or spiritual, who promise prosperity and wealth. God does indeed promise us blessings, but remember it’s so much more than material!

Since I was a child, I have heard the story of the Israelites in the desert on the journey to the Promised Land. The people are beginning to groan and complain of discomfort to the point that they wish they were back in Egypt. God spoke to Moses that He would send manna and quail, and commanded them to only take what would satisfy their needs for that day. Yet, some took more than necessary and whatever was leftover by the next day became rotten. (Exodus 16) I believe that similarly our hearts can become rotten when we disregard what God gives us.

We as Christ-followers have already called to live a sustainable life. Think of Jesus’ words in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I believe it is not just spiritual, but includes our material needs. We should desire only that which we need each day to survive, and leave the rest for others, for another day.

The challenge is that each of us have different needs, some related, others unique. Each of us needs repeatedly to take time with the Father to discern what we really need. I am not saying that will necessarily mean giving up our cars, becoming vegans, or getting rid of the computer. We simply need to take time to give thanks for what we have, reflect on how we are living, and whether that is productive for God’s kingdom. Then ask Him for leading in how to change willingly and effectively.

I would like to end this post with a verse from Proverbs that I believe may help us to meditate on what is our material Daily Bread.

Proverbs 30:8-9

Keep falsehood and lies far from me;

give me neither poverty nor riches,

but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you

and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'

Or I may become poor and steal,

and so dishonor the name of my God.

1 comment:

Randall Westfall said...

Great post to counter that evil thing called "prosperity theology". More people need to learn the importance of "daily bread". Keep up the good posts, we are reading it!