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Stomach Philosophy

November 24th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 10: 3 (NLT)

3 The Lord will not let the godly go hungry,
      but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My job affords me the opportunity to experience a wide gamut of things in life.  There are definitely sights and sounds . . . and smells associated with hanging out with teenagers and young adults.  I am forever astounded at how quickly a group of students can overrun a space.  It takes no time at all to know that someone has commandeered a particular room or building.  Just look for the superfluous piles of Taco Bell wrappers, the stacks of clothing somehow left in the corner (how people lose shoes and sweatshirts while they are on their person, I’ll never know), or the yellow cloud of Funyon dust rising from the trash receptacle.  

Another key component to my life with students is the overwhelming number of trips that I take each year.  I’ve always loved to travel and in the business I’m in, I get all I want and more. Whether it’s a short overnight stays or a ten day excursion overseas, I am constantly in the process of preparing for the next trip.  In fact, I would say that trip planning and preparation easily consumes thirty to forty percent of my office schedule.

I guess you could say that I’m a trip planning guru.  I live by schedules and spreadsheets.  I do my best to plan for every moment of a trip.  Meeting times.  Amusement parks.  Camps.  Fine Arts performances. Leadership training.  Group building exercises.  Brainstorming sessions.  All things must be planned as much as possible before we point the huge steering wheel of our big bus towards our travel destination. Hey, even if we are going to have free time, it needs to be planned.  But amidst the thousands of details that my staff and I must address in order to pull off a trip safely and effectively, one seemingly less-significant aspect of the trip stands out among the rest: food.

Rest assured, my friend, that no amount of incredible speakers, gifted bands, ginormous roller coasters, or even personal devotions from one’s favorite youth pastor (wink wink) will suffice if food is not provided.  At the outset of every journey we make, the first question that always surfaces from somewhere behind me on the bus is: “where are we eating?”

Any many cases, the food becomes an event unto itself.  Students will sometimes come home from the most amazing camp or phenomenal retreat that we’ve ever experienced and immediately begin discussing what restaurants we ate at.  Furthermore, if the stomachs of our students begin to rumble with hunger pangs, you might as well call it quits on anything else you’re doing– it ain’t gonna work, dude!  But I’m juggling fire while quoting scripture in Greek and passing out hundred dollar bills.  No one cares!  Just give ’em a stinking cheeseburger if you want to live!

At the heart of it all, the basic need for food and water is important.  In the Christian culture, we seem to have created a hierarchy of the importance of various prayers.  World peace.  Global warming.  The Titans game on Sunday.  Issues like these dominate our prayers while issues of the basic necessities of life seem almost trivial and selfish to bring before a God who obviously has a whole world of other things to tend to.  But just like those hundreds of youth trips I’ve taken over the years, basic issues like eating will quickly rise to the surface of our priorities if they are neglected.  Simply put, the basics are always important. 

Maybe that’s why in the midst of the most profound literary work of wisdom in history, we catch a glimpse of God’s interest in our basic necessities.  It’s like Solomon is saying, “Hey, seek the deepest of all that divinity has to offer concerning philosophy, theology, and success in this life, but never forget that God cares about your empty stomachs too.”  You see, we are too easily inclined to believe that the heavenlies have little concern for the minor details of our earthly lives.  

Ah, but nothing could be further from the truth!  Just consider the manner in which Jesus revealed His destiny to His disciples on the last night they were together before His crucifixion.  What did they do?  Did they sit around and debate theology?  Did they power walk on water just for the fun of it?  No, they sat down together and ate.  And that meal was the place where Jesus instituted an ordinance that you and I still observe today: the Lord’s “Supper”.  It was through food and eating together that Jesus said we should remember Him and what He did for us on the cross.

Man, wouldn’t you expect Him to pick something more spiritual than food to be the tradition of the ages for the church to remember His death and resurrection?  Come on– when we eat, we get messy.  We burp.  We get food in our teeth.  The process of eating is not exactly the most attractive part of a person’s life.  

But you see, that’s exactly what Jesus wanted and what God still wants from us today: to remember Him in the everyday things of life and to realize that He remembers us in those things as well.  As this verse says, “The Lord will not let the godly go hungry . . .”  Hey man, He knows all the huge, universe-sized issues swirling about our planet . . . and He also knows just as well how much you need to eat tonight.  He’s the God of limitless creation and He’s also the God of our basic necessities, so we shouldn’t hesitate to bring every issue of life to Him . . . including what we need for dinner tonight.

Perhaps that’s the reason I always end my trips with a huge meal at a nice restaurant if possible– that’s what Jesus did too!  It’s nice to know that God is listening the whisper of our spirits, as well as the rumblings of our bellies.



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