During this Lenten series, our church staff is preaching through a book called, “Lent: In Plain Sight: A Devotional Through Ten Objects,” by Jill Duffield. The premise of the book is that ordinary objects can invite us to consider divine realities. One of the objects she reflects on is bread. I will spend the coming weeks reflecting on how bread in the scriptures points us to a divine reality. What divine reality can bread point us to during this Lenten season?
Bread is an interesting topic for some of us who have food restrictions or try to maintain a certain diet. For example, I try to stay away from complex carbs during the week. Some people are gluten free and dairy free or following a keto-diet that doesn’t even allow bread. And yet, bread throughout scripture, is a sign of Gods provision reminding Gods people of who God is.
In Exodus 16:1-11 we read about God providing bread (they called it manna) in the desert to the people of Israel. The people recently (only a few months prior) were led out of their slavery in Egypt. God performed a variety of signs and wonders through the plagues and through Moses and Aaron’s encounters with Pharaoh. They even crossed a sea on dry land! They were rescued, set free and were headed to a new land of abundance when they started complaining. The topic of their complaint was “What will eat for dinner?” The bible tells us that they didn’t just complain but that they grumbled against God. They were angry and they blamed God.
The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”
After all of the big moments where God provided in miraculous ways, they doubted that God would provide for their dinner and their solution was to go back to slavery.
And I wonder if you can relate? How many of us have trusted God for the big moments in life but struggle to trust God in the small ones? We may have trusted God for salvation, trusted God for healing, or freedom from a sin. We may expect that God will come through in the big ways but we doubt or we wonder if God will come through in the mundane and ordinary things of life.
I have been a Youth Pastor for the past fourteen years. Sarah was in my youth group many years ago and she came with me to Summer Camp. For most Christian teenagers, camp is a “spiritual high” experience. They spend the week worshipping and praying with each other. They hear inspiring sermons. Many of them commit and re-commit to their faith at Summer Camp. This was the case for Sarah. She was really ready to change her whole life and follow Jesus. Her plan was to leave her relationships that were toxic and to begin investing in friendships that were encouraging. She had this all worked out and she wanted me to hold her accountable. It was about ten days after camp that we met at Chic-Fil-A (as you do when you’re a Youth Pastor). I asked her about the commitments she shared with me when she quickly explained to me that she had given up on that idea. She said, “Yea, it’s just too hard. And I’ve decided that God doesn’t really care about or have anything to do with my friends anyways, right?”
This is why bread matters. Bread points us to a God who cares about our “dinner.” Sarah’s friendships were the equivalent of the Israelites dinner. It was the area of her life where she was doubting God’s provision. She believed that God didn’t care, that God wouldn’t come through for her in this area.. Bread reminds us that God provides in the big things of life and also in the small things. Bread reminds us that God provides perhaps mostly through the common and ordinary, and even in the unexpected places.
What area of your life are you doubting God’s provision? Maybe you are complaining and grumbling against God in this season? May bread invite you to consider a God who always provides in big and small ways.
“Holy is the work of scheduling, inbox cleanout, and parent/teacher conferences.
May our to-do lists be infused with the lightness of lemon scented candles.
Holy is the work of dishes, laundry, cooking, and organizing.
May our productivity be rooted in Beloved so that our bodies bring Love like springtime brings hope.
Holy is the work of guiding, encouraging, cheering, and supporting.
May our determination sow joy instead of resentment.
Holy is the day-to-day drudgery of a larger purpose.”