Today's devotional comes from my friend AJ Smith. He's a pastor at a church here in Philly and he's doing some really great stuff with his community of faith. You can track with him at sacramentaltrip.com and if you don't go to my church tomorrow you should go to his, Restoration Church. www.restorationphl.org
“It's a mystery to me We have a greed With which we have agreed
You think you have to want More than you need Until you have it all you won't be free”--Eddie Vedder
The Desire for Security
In our society, there is perhaps no goal that is more prized than security. If we could just have enough to depend on, perhaps it would quell our incessant worrying, and we’d finally be free to live lives of purpose. “Nothing in excess” most would say, “I just need enough put away to ensure I’d never have to worry again.”
Being in want is something we all despise. Having the guarantee of enough is something we all desire. But for most of us, this level of security eludes us. Yet, it is in this place where Jesus meets us:
“Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.”
Bread, which is more broadly understood and sustenance, is not something we like to hope for daily. If it were up to us, we’d have bread stored up for the next several years. Who wants to wake up each morning with a request for the food of the day to be provided? That doesn’t feel like stability. That sounds like poor planning. It reeks of insecurity.
Yet, Jesus still teaches us to pray to God and ask for him to provide for us the food for today. Why? What is the reason for this? If we look back in the Old Testament we will have some context for verse.
The Hoarding Impulse
In Exodus 16 we find the Israelites who had been freed from Egypt, wandering hungry throughout the desert. After hearing complaints from the people, God provides Manna, which is bread from heaven that appeared on the ground for the people to eat. When they went out in the morning, there was bread on the ground in every direction, enough to last them for days on end. But God told them to only gather enough for that day. They weren’t to save any bread, but instead wait for God to provide the following morning and gather enough bread for that day. Some did not listen, and they attempted to save and hoard Manna, just in case there wasn’t bread tomorrow. But the next morning they found that the bread had turned to worms and began to smell. So what’s going on here?
Remember, the Israelites had spent generations living in Egypt, the place that had storehouses filled with food to last for years. In the desert, they wanted to go back to Egypt, where they had a sense of safety and security in their food supply. When God provided manna, or “daily bread” for Israelites, he did so with the intention of undoing the self-security they had learned in Egypt. He could have let them collect enough Manna to last for weeks, but he rigged his own system so that his people would learn not depend on their own savings skills, planning, and rationing, but rather learn to depend on him daily. By limiting their supply to daily bread, God was forcing his people to depend on him, and he taught them to recognize that he was the source of all they had.
The Call To Surrender
At this point you are probably beginning to see that Jesus’ prayer isn’t just talking about food. And while ancient cultures relied on bread to get them through the day, we rely on a lot more in our society. Our cars, houses, bank accounts, children’s educations, and jobs are all things that we might categorize as our “bread.” And like the Israelites we have a hard time recognizing these things as God’s provisions in our day-to-day lives.
· We have learned to depend entirely on our long-term plans
· We believe that we are the source of our sustenance
· We have stopped sincerely looking to God as provider
So here, Jesus tells us to pray that God would provide for our daily needs. And like the Israelites had to learn:
· We must choose to re-center ourselves around the Provider each day.
· We must develop a practice of recognizing God as the giver of all things.
· We must take time to step back and see that we aren’t as strong as we think we are.
· We must live in a space that asks, recognizes, and thanks God for everything we have.
Father, during this season of lent help me to enter into to wilderness with Jesus. I turn from my impulse to create self-security and during this season of fasting I commit to rest in the arms of the Provider. Amen.