Taste and See

Last week was a bit stressful for me. Worry was the main culprit. Anxious thoughts and fret fests conspired to deliver me to the edge of panic.

But God is good to widen my focus to see the table He has set before me. I realize I am hungry for a different point of view. What I’m craving is an eternal perspective.

Take the story of Elijah, more specifically the part in 1 Kings 19. Elijah is fresh off a mountain top experience after defeating the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and yet he flees to the wilderness after a death threat from Jezebel. Elijah is so downcast that he pleads, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

The LORD responds by sending an angel who prepares food and drink for Elijah and says to him:

Arise and eat, for the journey is too much for you.

First, I confess, the journey is too much for me. It is too far and too arduous. It is often scary. My need is great and I suspect yours is too. We all enjoy times of rejoicing and seasons of ease, but the human condition is such that we must endure suffering, too. Or sometimes even worse, we watch our loved ones struggle. Difficulties are part of the journey.

What we need is sustenance and nourishment to help us see past our present circumstances and give us strength to endure. And so the words of the Angel are truth and wisdom.

Arise and eat.

Elijah eats the food prepared for him and continues in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights.

There is a kind of feast in Scripture. No dietary restrictions here; you can indulge to your heart’s content. Jesus is our daily bread. Take and eat. Return again and again to the table and partake of His goodness. Savor the Gospel. Mercy excites the taste buds. Redemption satisfies the appetite. Relish the long-lasting flavor of forgiveness and grace. Fill up on the love of God. This is stick to your ribs food. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

And when you are full, see if dessert is not a sweet, sweet foretaste of eternity.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

 

 

Blinded by the Now


No one is immune to difficulty. Financial concerns. Car problems. Marital issues. Worries about children or elderly parents. Loneliness, addiction, physical or mental illness. This one has a son who serves in the military, currently stationed a little too close to a certain mad man in North Korea. That one is going through a divorce. Another one is dealing with the pain of losing a loved one in the recent Las Vegas shootings. A dear friend of mine just lost her husband to cancer.

To be sure, even in the midst of suffering there are moments of joy. But the point I’m trying to make is that anxiety and fear serve to keep us laser focused on the problem at hand. We become blind to everything else.

At least in my life, I miss out on so much because of worry and fear. It’s like there’s always a worst-case scenario running in the background of my mind. It’s exhausting.

I, we, desperately need a glimpse of the eternal perspective:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day
Nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
He will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out
And coming in
From this time forth and forever more.
-Psalm 121

The words of this Psalm and Scripture in general make no sense if the context is not eternity. In fact, without the broadness of eternity undergirding them, these words would only seem to mock us in our suffering.

The truth is that our existence this side of Heaven will always be a mingling of sorrow and joy. God’s promises do belong to us, but will only be perfectly realized in the glorious and real future that is ours in Christ.

Lift up your eyes, indeed.