“For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.”
Being human does not exactly look like Hollywood makes it look on the big screen. Often over glamorized by the “stars,” reality under the real stars tells a different story. Life is exhausting and difficult. For example, I hate being ill because I hate being physically reminded my limitations. Here’s reality: my days, already few in number, don’t float by in unending bliss, but rather vanish like smoke. Can you see the image? How apt!
While I could spend some time writing what we already know to be true by experience, I want this post to be slanted a slightly different direction. The Psalmist writes about a heart that is “withered like grass” causing him to “forget to eat” his food. When I read this I was blown away by a level of meaning I had not previously noticed in these words. Here it is. I have a tendency to allow the troubles, cares, and worries of life to so affect my heart that I forget to eat my food, but the food I’m referring to is not physical. I allow worry, fear, and anxiety to keep me from feeding on Christ and His word.
Sadly, I have no trouble eating when I’m worried. More often than not, I feel like eating is one thing I’m quite proficient at when anxious or troubled. Yet, when my anxiety is high, I rarely run to Scripture. I struggle badly with pausing in the day to reflect on the truth of Scripture. Wouldn’t make sense, then, that a major reason why my heart is withered and blighted is because it is not properly nourished?
During Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in the early chapters of Matthew’s gospel, Satan tempts Jesus regarding food. Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days fasting and praying while preparing himself for his public ministry. You would think that not eating actual food for forty days would leave a heart withered. Yet, when Satan tempts Jesus by reminding him of his powers over nature, and in this case the ability to change a rock into bread, Jesus demonstrates true strength. Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy, “Man does not live on bread alone, but every word that proceeds from the Father.” Wow!
Maybe experience with a blighted and withered soul has nothing to do with what I’m eating. Maybe my experience of exhaustion and fear is completely wrapped up in the fact that I “forget to eat.” I walk about the earth believing that I am more important than I am, more substantial than vanishing smoke. I handle problems and issues like I’m the solution rather than there being a solution. I carry unnecessary burdens, ones that Christ ought to carry, and burden myself with so many cares that I “forget to eat.” Maybe I get wrapped up in doing “good things” that I don’t do the “best thing”, namely find my seat next to Mary as remain at Christs’ feet (Lk 10:38-42).
Lord, help me not to “forget to eat.” Remind me that man does not live on bread, but on the words that proceed from the Father. Remind me my limitations and enable me to rest completely in your infinite sovereignty and love. May I re-learn to feast upon the Bread of Life.
*Image from old Google search regarding the Eucharist.