“The bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:33, NIV
It wasn’t an everyday after-dinner occurrence, but there were times in my childhood when my sister and I would bundle up on a cold evening and ask our mother for bread. We’d each grab a slice, run to the large oak tree in the middle of our front yard, squat beneath it, and eat our fluffy white treat.
I know it sounds strange. And if you asked me why we did it, I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. All I know is that when I remember those times shared with my sister, my heart smiles.
I’d almost forgotten about our odd ritual, until recently when I ran across a book written in 1995 by Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn, Sleeping with Bread, Holding What Gives You Life. The Linn’s created their picture book to help families remember moments of consolation that had emerged from times of desolation and be grateful.
The book recounted the bombing raids of World War II when thousands of children were orphaned and left starving. The fortunate ones found refuge in camps where they could receive care, but fear kept many awake at night. Nothing consoled the children until someone thought to give each child a piece of bread. Holding the slice, they would fall asleep. The food reminded them, “Today I ate, and I will eat again tomorrow.”
The story of Ruth in Scripture opens during a time of famine in Israel. Elimelech had taken his wife Naomi and their two sons from their home in Bethlehem (The House of Bread) to the idolatrous region of Moab for refuge. The opening verse states, “he went to live there for a while.” Elimelech fully intended to return to Bethlehem, but he and his two sons never went back to the Promised Land. They died in the pagan land of Moab. Elimelech’s intentions were good, but leaving God’s place of provision was a bad idea.
Famine provokes movement. How many trips have you made to the refrigerator because your tummy rumbled? Or perhaps you can connect on a deeper level. How often have you jumped the fence for greener pastures only to find your “feast” short-lived?
The temptation to leave our houses of bread in times of physical or spiritual famine appeals to us, but our quick fixes are often short-lived. Jesus tells us, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
Don’t settle in a place outside of God’s will. You’ll stay longer than planned and forfeit the consolation and permanent solution that only comes from the giver and sustainer of life. Choose the bread God offers and grip it till morning comes. There in the early light, in the midst of God’s comforting presence, your heart will smile—and so will God.