Monday, April 19, 1999
"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."
How hungry have you been? Jesus is talking with a crowd of people who were just fed loaves and fish that appeared nearly out of nowhere. They were hungry again. But they were hungry because it had been a day since they'd eaten, not a couple of hours.
Jesus asked them to observe their hunger and then apply it to something more, something that "endures to eternal life." What was he getting at? In a Unification Church van one morning a Japanese girl asked us during our devotion time, "Have you ever been in love with God? Like you've been in love with a boy or a girl?" When I was first in love with Margaret, I kept stepping on her feet because I wanted to be so close. And every minute I wanted to be with her. And I've felt that way about God too.
But whatever name you put on this kind of love - puppy love, infatuation, cathexis - it's not the lasting kind. I don't think that's what Jesus meant. In 1991 a missionary named Mahesh Chavda came to Urbana to speak at the Vineyard. He had spoken at great rallies in Africa and was reputed to have raised up a dead boy. But he came mostly to talk about fasting.
Mahesh often fasted for forty days at a time. He did this two or three times a year. He encouraged us to fast one day a week. "That's 52 days a year!" he exclaimed. On most Mondays since then I've taken his advice. During many of those fasting days I've just waited impatiently till it was time to eat again. Not much spiritual growth evident there. One truth is that I'm eating more than I need to on the other six days, and I enjoy food more than ever.
But another truth is that sometimes my awareness of God's nearness increases, sometimes my prayers seem to reach farther, sometimes I have less desire for food and more desire for spiritual fullness. And I feel a strength inside me that may be bred from the simple, patient consistency with which I have learned to greet God on Mondays. Jesus says that God is as near to me as the bread on my table, and wants to be sought after just as often.
Thank you Lord, for showing us how, one day at a time.