Our OT reading has the great prophet Elijah on the run. Why would Elijah run? He was very brave. He faced the King, the Queen and the false prophets. It states he ran in fear. He was afraid. I don’t believe he was afraid of the threat of death or the Queen who threatened him. I believe he was afraid of being disappointed. Despite all that happened and what the people witnessed, King Ahab remained weak, Queen Jezebel was still determined to kill him, evil ruled the land and the people of the nation would most likely go right back to the way they were tomorrow. Have you ever been disappointed by the people around you? Elijah crumbled and wanted God to take away his life! Do we have other biblical examples of this kind of grumbling and crumbling among our great prophets?
Moses told God, “Kill me now.” He was overwhelmed providing for God’s people. God helped Moses by lessening his share of the burden.
Job said, “I just can’t take it anymore. I have no hope, I give up.” Could Job control what was happening to him? Can we? Job questions God and God responds. And Job gets it. Job accepts the trauma but he doesn’t accept the role of a victim. His faith remains.
Jeremiah was preaching when he was beaten and placed in stocks. He said, “I wish I had never been born.” God remains there steadfast for him. God is always there and always will be pursuing us with His never-ending grace.
Jonah also grumbled and crumbled. God corrects Jonah’s lack of compassion by revealing the heart of God through an act of loving forgiveness. Jonah learns not to think to much and try to control God’s grace and just accept it. Trust it. Trust Him.
And now, back to brave Elijah. God heard his grumbling and used scavengers to bring him food. Just imagine how rough that was for the ravens. God provides in the most unexpected ways.
In our worst moments we can either turn to God or away from God. When we turn away we let it destroy us. When we turn to God then we can find out how strong we are and find a deeper level of trust with our true father.
This is our problem. We look to ourselves or to others for help. We look to our devices. We look to the world instead of the Word. We look to creation instead of the Creator This is our continual fight.
The Hebrew word for bread is Lechem. The root of this word means “to fight.” Bread is a food that is pounded and pressed together. It symbolizes our struggle to be complete beings. We feed our body but what about our soul? We’re incomplete. We should be wearing shirts that read contents under constant pressure. Is anyone under pressure or stress? Is the person next to you under pressure? Person next to you causing your stress or pressure?
We’re promised peace but not a peaceful life. There’s a song by Queen, featuring David Bowie called “Under Pressure.” The lyrics speak of a hopeless humanity that’s unwilling to change its ways no matter what.
“Keep coming up with love but it’s so slashed and torn” This line is referencing that religion is a joke and praying to God is an act of futile ignorance.
“And love dares you to care for, The people on the edge of the night. And love dares you to change our way of, Caring about ourselves” Stating that humanity is afraid of change and doomed by that controlling fear.
“This is our last dance. This is ourselves, Under pressure” This is what our humanity accepts. We refuse to change. We’re not evolving. We’re trapped in our own fears and insecurities. What a depressing song.
But let’s look at this song from our Christian point of view so that I haven’t just ruined a good song for you. Jesus was slashed and torn for us. The blame is on us but blame is irrelevant. What blame usually does is change the subject so that no one finds solutions to problems. And where would blame lead us? “Why God?” How exactly do you ask that question? Why God? Why did You allow this? Or Why God? Who am I to blame God? Did God break the rules? Did He eat of the fruit? Did He create our weakness or did we grow in our weakness, learn to accept our weakness? Embrace our fears, embrace our circumstance, embrace our victim status. Do we pray and expect an instant answer or miracle? There is always an answer. Then we get to thinking, cause we’re sooo smart, what if we’re ignorant of the answer or blind to it or misunderstand it? If I don’t see an obvious sign then I pray for God to strengthen me so I can be the miracle that I’m looking for. God nourish my faith, feed my spirit, help me be the perfect tool for this crisis and your plan. Try it. Ask God to ease your mind, take away your stress and strengthen you.
How did Jesus deal with pressure? He would get away and pray. This may sound easy but it does work. Physically find a quiet place or, if you can’t at the moment, find away to quiet your mind. Breathe. Seek God and speak to Him. Pray as often as you possibly can. Like our Psalm says, “Seek the Lord … be delivered … taste and see.”
In scientific studies of prayers it shows that prayer works and changes the outcome of the experiment. But guess what screws up many of these studies. Human awareness. When we start thinking of the prayers it impacts the results negatively. Don’t think about it just trust God.
Food sustains us temporarily. Even the superfoods. Avocados, acai berries and salmon. Corn in Guatemala used to be their term for all foods. For the Hebrews, it was bread. Bread = Food. Shewbread at the temple was there to show that bread is temporary. Our flesh drags us to think of the physical. This is the bread of death. This bread and our flesh have expiration dates. The human aspect of Jesus had an expiration date too when His side was pierced. A death certificate was attached to the shroud of the body since He was actually being entombed. Which was rare for an executed criminal of Rome. This was done so relatives could retrieve the body after one year and bury their dear departed properly in a family tomb. The feeding of the 5000 was a miracle but it was a temporary one. The miracle of His death gives us the eternal gift of grace.
Jesus proclaims He is the bread of life. Jesus is the great I AM. He is the God BEFORE, the God of NOW – Here for ALL our needs and the God AFTER in eternity an ever-ongoing occurrence of perfect love. We’re chosen to receive the gift of His Grace so that we may believe in the eternal Jesus and accept Him in ALL His aspects. His Pre-existence, His Birth, His Life, His Death, His Resurrection, His Humanity, His Deity ALL THAT HE AM! Can we accept this?
There is even symbolism given for us. The bread and the wine. It was crushed but it is still here for us to taste and see. The communion wafer is crushed flat. The leaven (sin) is beaten out of it. Grapes were crushed and the blood of the fruit was drained out. In the book of Isaiah we read that “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” His body nourishes our soul and His blood cleanses it.
In Gethsemane, Jesus felt the pressure when He said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as YOU will.” The prayer of our Lord starts in human weakness but ends with the greatest strength.
The end of our Epistle says. “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Fragrant is the key word here for me. Dig into your memories for me. Did you ever pray for food? A specific food? You craved it. And behold, it worked out for you! You expected it, you smelled it and when you were smelling it you knew it was for you! How amazing is that feeling? Imagine that every day or at every meal. Exactly what you craved you smelled it and then you received it! That is our daily bread that we pray for! God’s bakery is open 24/7 with cooked fresh daily, Bread of Life. His bread is gluten-free, zero calories, non-fat, heck, it’s not even a carb which will eventually make you hungry again. It’s the perfect and eternal mind, body and soul food!
There was also a study conducted that the aroma of freshly-baked bread makes us kinder to strangers. The sacrifice of Christ’s love was a fragrant offering to God. The symbol of ALL of God’s people ascending to be with Him. The fulfillment of God’s plan. Try to imagine the smell of love. I’d imagine that it would smell like a baby’s hair. Think of your favorite scents. Then try to imagine the combined smells of love, repentance, forgiveness and worship. For me, Love smells like a baby’s hair. A bun right out of the oven. Repentance smells like Lavender, Forgiveness smells like Sandalwood and Worship smells like Jasmine. Love, Repentance, Forgiveness, Worship repeat, over and over. Exactly what we should strive for. That is the plan God is still cooking and it always smells good.
Let us pray, Father let the pressures of our lives only serve to bring us always closer to YOU. Let us experience YOU with ALL our senses. Your kingdom come, Your will be done. Amen.