Skipping Meals and Guilty Motivations

Most of us struggle with spending time in God’s Word. We have a vague awareness that we ought to be in the Word more. We have a sense that it ought to be frequently. Most would say daily. We strive, and we aim, and we hope, but it just doesn’t always happen. Then we end up feeling guilty and ashamed. We go back and try again, but this time with more vague guilt and foggy shame.

Don Whitney has a book on spiritual disciplines in which he talks about the discipline of being in the Word regularly. One of the great thoughts he shared is a quote by Evangelist D. L. Moody. I find helpful as a way of thinking about daily devotions. Maybe you will too.

“A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day today as we need it.”

D.L. Moody as cited in Don Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 33.

I find this quote helpful because I understand eating. I know that if I don’t eat regularly, I’ll feel it. I can skip a meal once in a while. I’ve gone a day or so once on a fast. But I know that much more than a day and I’m gonna be in rough shape. But if the Word of God is food, then what does it mean when I’ve gone a few days without letting the text address my heart before the Lord? Physical starvation is easy to spot and to feel if you are the one starving.

But spiritual starvation can be a bit more difficult to notice. After all, walking in the flesh isn’t really going to include a large neon sign alerting you to this fact. If anything, the sign will be covered by that deceptive heart we all have. It helps me to think about God’s Word as a source of nourishment that I desperately need, even when I don’t feel that need.

I find this quote helpful because I enjoy eating. No one has to tell me to eat. I love eating. You don’t have to remind me, and you don’t have to force me. I have the reverse problem, I eat too much! Why do I regularly eat? Partly because I know my need. But it’s also party because I love food. I enjoy the taste of coffee, and burgers, and Doritos, and cake, and eggs, and broccoli, and so on.

But all those foods had to be prepared first. I love cake, but if I ate a spoonful of flour, and then took a bite of a raw egg, and then sipped on some vanilla, I can guarantee you I’d never be confused and think I was really eating cake! If you asked if I liked cake, and all I have ever tasted was the flour, egg, and vanilla – unprepared – I’d spit a resounding “no way” in your direction. However, if I understood how to prepare those ingredients, then I might say that I love cake.

Spiritual Meals

There is a parallel here when it comes to our time in God’s Word: sometimes we don’t understand it. And when you constantly go back to something you don’t understand, what’s going to change? Well, in the very distant future you will begin to see some of the truths. But you could more quickly get the idea by asking a wiser and older Christian how the Bible works. Or find a book that will guide you in the study of the Word. In no time you’ll be understanding what you are reading and be coming back for more each day. Why? Not because you are ashamed, but because you finally tasted it and you love it.

Today, when you eat, think of God’s Word. Let it be a reminder that you need His Word, and that His Word tastes good. Leave the shame and guilt at the foot of the cross. Take hold of the forgiveness and grace Jesus offers. And then fill a plate with a chapter of scripture, and sit down and eat a nice meal.

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