He makes me lie down in green pastures . . . (Psalm 23:2)
Imagine cooking a gourmet meal and your guests ask for peanut butter sandwiches. Imagine buying your wife a designer outfit and she prefers cut offs and your old t-shirt. Imagine a shepherd seeing his sheep eating scrawny weeds instead of lush nearby grass.
God does not have to imagine my foolish choices. He sees me make them and asks, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” (Isaiah 55:2)
I get angry with myself for seeking satisfaction in things or activities that do not satisfy. I can imagine the heart of God who gives me all that I need only to watch me go for something He did not supply. He who knows my thoughts and motives must sigh in sorrow because I am being so foolish.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6–9)
As much as I am in the Bible in the morning and during my studies, thinking God’s thoughts is no easy task. Focus is one thing, but content is another challenge. As wonderful and lush are His provisions, why are those scrawny weeds so appealing? After years of being carefully led every day to the food that satisfies, my head still wanders into the pantry looking for something more, even junk food.
Jesus invites: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)
He says to His followers who are busy and sometimes do not take time to eat or to feed on His thoughts, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:30–32) His desire is that I feed on Him, for He boldly declared, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:33–35)
Jesus told His disciples that “. . . whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:44–51)
Of course some took that metaphor literally and created entire doctrines around it, but Jesus knew that would happen. He told them “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe” and with that, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.’ (John 6:60–66)
I used to think these who turned away were very foolish, but realize now that participating in the life of Christ is an extreme challenge, even for those of us who already have it.