As often as we say the Lord’s Prayer, we repeat the line that says “Give us this day our daily bread.” Bread is a common reference in the Old and New Testaments from the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Exodus to Isaiah 30:20 “The Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction” to “man does not live on bread alone” [Matthew 4:4] to feeding 5,000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish [Luke 9:13] to Jesus saying “it is my Father who gives the true bread.” [John 6:32]
I know that I have always thought of the bread in the Lord’s Prayer as the food I need for this day, but I have realized that bread also means sustenance—not just food–and, by extension, whatever we need for this day. Jesus says in John 4, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”[v. 32] His disciples are wondering what food he has that they haven’t seen, when Jesus goes on, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”[v. 34] What kept Him going was doing the will of His Father.
This gives us so much more to think about. What keeps us going? Food, for sure, because our bodies need the proteins and vitamins and minerals that food provides. What keeps our minds going and enriched: books, the Bible teachings, new ideas and old. And, what about our soul and spirit? Here I would go back to Jesus’ saying, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work.” Integrity, being true to one’s self and to our God, is essential to our spiritual health. Doing His will, and fulfilling our purpose is the very reason we’ve been born into this world. Studying, pondering, meditating on God’s word, on Jesus’ teachings, being true to the Indwelling Spirit within us—all of these bring spiritual sustenance.
In John 6 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” [v. 35] Everything we need we will find in Him. The questions for us always are these: What do I need today, Lord, to be faithful to you? How can I fulfill my purpose, help others and be true to you? What do you want me to ponder, to do, to say, to act upon? I am at your disposal, just let me know what you need me to do and to be. And I will do it.
The quote above from Isaiah says that God gives us the “bread of adversity.” We learn the most in our lives from whatever trouble or pain and suffering we endure. These are the challenges that help us to grow into the person we were created to become. The happy times are great, but we mostly don’t learn anything from them, we just enjoy them. With the challenges we have, God is asking us to grow, to divest ourselves of thoughts and emotions that keep us from growing in our faith, in love and compassion, in mercy and justice. The challenges help us tear down the walls between us and who God is, between us and love: the vehicle of true change in this world. God calls us to grow into his followers, then his disciples, and then to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What we need to do is to say, “Yes!” at each turn of events in our lives, at each call from God to heal what keeps us clinging to the past and fearful of the future. He is calling us away from the world’s influence and towards His will for us.
What has been clear to me for a long time along this journey with Christ is that I have no idea what needs to happen next in my life. God is always surprising me with the next step. I am way too close to myself to be able to imagine what will help me to let go of this past event or to embrace that person before me or to take a quantum leap into the way God thinks.
This ability to see so clearly, this caring of God’s for the very details of our state of being is how He captures our devotion, because every single thing He feeds us will be just what we need at that moment. He knows us so well, that what we cannot begin to imagine, God provides, along with whatever help we may need to let go of something from our past or to embrace something from our future. This is the “bread of life” itself, the bread that we pray for when we recite the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught what God would do for us in all circumstances. All we need to do is to follow His lead in all that we do and say. And, each day, we will be walking our pathway filled with the “bread” needed for our journey.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I asking God for bread just in the physical sense or am I asking for “bread” for my mind, for my heart and for my soul and spirit, too? If I don’t see clearly what I need in these other areas of myself, will I ask God to show me what I need and to fill those needs? Do I belong to God or to the world, to our culture? Have I let God transform me into the person He created me to be?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who turn to Him in every aspect of our lives. May we seek the “bread of life” for every area of our lives. May we belong to God with our hearts, minds, souls and strength.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 7.13.20s is entitled, “Weathering the Storm.”
An invitation to contribute to my book on the Beatitudes: If you would be willing to share some of the obstacles you have encountered in your life that have come between you and God, I would love to hear them. I’ll be writing about the Beatitudes and will identify some of the challenges we face at each step, particularly, anything that you’ve been taught to be true, but later find out doesn’t work for you, or something in your self-image that keeps you where you are instead of responding to what God may ask of you, cultural norms that get in your way—anything like that. I would only use your initials if I quote you. I am so grateful for any experiences you might contribute. You may message them to me on FB or send them to my email, email@example.com.