My children are very different when it comes to their morning breakfast rituals. My daughter is rearing to go, pushing her high chair out from the wall, wanting food before I can even get her diaper changed. My son, however, meanders from his room, preferring to watch t.v. rather than eat breakfast. Once I get his ravenous sister her first banana, I set up his breakfast and he takes a bite. “Mommy, can I be done now?” “No, bud, you have to eat the whole thing,” I firmly assert. He plugs along ever so slowly, but I know if he doesn’t finish it we will be in melt down mode in an hour.
I have learned the hard way that though he shows little interest in his food, he is hungry. Whoever first coined the advice, “Don’t worry – they will eat when they’re hungry,” has never had a morning encounter with my child. He’s fine for a little while, but if he hasn’t had enough to eat, the tiniest little upset throws him into a serious tantrum – a picture perfect fit of rage complete with wails, defiant yells and alligator tears… This is where I find myself wanting to throw a tantrum of my own. “Why won’t you eat? EAT CHILD! EAT CHILD! EAT!!!” Instead, I try to get him calm enough to eat something so some sense of reason will return to his tiny body.
I have tried multiple gentle reminders, firm reminders, threats, and even spoon feeding him myself, but some mornings he just refuses to eat. On one such morning I remember thinking, “Child (apparently this is the term of endearment I use for him when I am frustrated), you refuse to eat and you suffer for it. Eat your food and you will feel so much better.”
As you might imagine if you have read any of my previous articles, it didn’t take long for me to draw a spiritual parallel.
This weekend I was feeling crummy… that’s an understatement. I suppose I was having a tantrum of my own – a mostly internal adult version, but complete with wails, defiant yells and alligator tears nonetheless. I called my sister hoping something would bring me out of my funk. I explained my emotional state and said, “And beside everything else, I feel awful spiritually. I feel like I am getting nothing from God.” To which she very matter of factly replied, “Well, I’m not surprised… have you spent any time with Him?” I was slightly taken aback, having expected at least a little empathy, but she was right. The snippets of time I had been getting were not enough to feed me.
Like my son, I was getting a bite in here or there, but it wasn’t enough to feed my soul. I didn’t feel the effects of my hunger for a while, but when something difficult came about, I was in melt down mode. I imagine God was saying, “Child, you refuse to eat and suffer for it.”
God doesn’t ask us to spend time with him to give us one more thing to check off our list of “to-do’s.” And it’s not because He needs it (although he does enjoy spending time with His children). He wants us to spend time with him because He knows we need it. If we don’t eat, we will suffer… and eventually die. Deuteronomy 32:47 says that His Words are not just idle words – they are your life!
I encourage you to carve out time in whatever way you can (sometimes we need to be creative) and have a good spiritual meal, daily. His Word is our life. He is our life. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty”(John 6:35). So feast on His word and be satisfied. Afterall children need to EAT!!!
This makes me think of another analogy I heard recently saying that just like food we have to eat daily, we can’t eat all our meals in one sitting on the first day of the week. You wouldn’t enjoy it, and it wouldn’t sustain you. There’s a reason we have “daily” bread.