Food for Thoughts

It’s a rare person that doesn’t love to eat. As a kid I remember Mom ringing her big cow bell with its deep bonks to call us in from playing in the fields and woods around our home out in the country. We hated to hear it. It meant we had to stop what we were doing and run home for dinner.

But somewhere between sixth grade and college, I got turned on to food. Once the switch was thrown, the problem no longer was forcing myself to come to the dinner table but forcing myself to push away from it.

Today, for example, a group of girlfriends surprised me with a birthday luncheon that was completely unexpected. We feasted at a waterfront restaurant, after which they surprised me a second time with a gorgeous bakery-made cake and a song, “You light up my life.” The cake had my name written on it in lavender and had four layers with lemon in between each luscious one. The frosting was melt-in-your-mouth yummy, including the pastel flowers, as smooth as silk.

Despite having high cholesterol that refuses to go away, I enjoyed a great-big piece.

I love food. And I’m sure God is happy about that. He went to the trouble of making a wide variety of flavors and consistencies, all delicious and most visually attractive.

For those who like salty, he made sea salt. For those who like sweet, he made sugar cane. He created something for everyone, and most likely he smiles as we “mmmm” over tasting something good. The key is to use food as fuel for our bodies and in that process, to enjoy eating it.

The Bible frequently references food, but the most interesting mention has to do with tasting of the Lord himself! Psalm 34 invites us to taste and see that he’s good. It’s as if the smallest sample of him is all we need to be convinced that following him is a good thing.

God refers to himself as “the Word” in Scripture, and of further food interest is the many references he makes to eating his words. Hebrews compares scripture to both milk and meat, the first being Christian basics, and the second being a deeper wisdom.

Erwin Lutzer put it well when he said, “What food is to the body, the Bible is to the soul.”

From this we can conclude that reading and studying the Bible provides needed life-fuel. It offers milk to the thirsty person during a dry, wilderness experience and meat to the one needing fresh vigor and strength. The promises of the Bible are scrumptious, and its doctrine brings satisfaction as we “eat it up.”

Because I have a sweet tooth, I can’t think of anything tastier than the birthday cake and frosting I ate today. But because I’ve also grown to love God’s Word, I can also smack my lips over Psalm 119:103: “How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.”

And that sweet treat doesn’t even require a trip to the bakery!

”Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by your name, O Lord God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16)

Focal Point

All of us know a hostess with the mostest. These are the people who thrive on entertaining and happily do the work of pulling together an event for their guests. It’s delightful to be invited to one of their gatherings. As a result of careful attention to detail, guests feel welcome, sensing a certain eagerness on the part of the hostess.

Once the guests are called to the table, they can expect a feast for the palette and also for the eyes. Every good hostess appreciates the opportunity to display a dramatic centerpiece on her table. Her creative arrangement becomes a focal point for those seated around it and usually summarizes the theme of the evening. She decorates the rest of her table based on her choice of centerpiece.

She might choose a floral arrangement or a candle display. I’ll never forget a bridal shower with a beach theme and an artistic centerpiece of shells, starfish and sandals scattered over an inch of white sand. Anything goes, according to the whims of the hostess.

Occasionally a centerpiece will be so large guests can’t converse over it. Although the impression is dramatic, the result is side-to-side conversation rather than round-tabling one topic together. When this happens, a good hostess will remove her centerpiece, because bigger isn’t always better.

The most impressive centerpiece I ever set up was a display of candles in painted Swedish holders. The holders were made of wood, and while we did the dishes, they caught on fire. Before we noticed, flames had burned through the tablecloth, the table pads, the table itself and the rug. It definitely qualified as a dramatic centerpiece.

Although not all of us can be extraordinary party hosts, we do each choose a centerpiece: it’s the focal point around which we gather all the parts of our lives. Yesterday at the beach I watched a massive yacht cruise by, no doubt someone’s life-centerpiece. Other focal points might be a dream home, a fulfilling career or a certain person, possibly a child.

I‘ve been thinking about Nate in this regard. Although he was my “other half” and an everyday partner in my life, he wasn’t my centerpiece. Had he been that, his death would have caused me to push back from the table and exit the conversation of life. And that’s probably true of any centerpiece we choose. Once it disappears, we have trouble participating.

Moving forward is only possible if a new focal point is quickly established. Or we can choose to focus on the only centerpiece that can never disappear – Christ Jesus. He has been, and will continue to be, my life centerpiece. Without him, I’d feel like a guest at the table who’d been excluded from the conversation.

Nate often said, about someone enjoying one of life’s richer experiences, “He has pulled a chair up to the banquet of life.” With Jesus as our centerpiece, the banquet can be rich indeed. And he manages this even without the dramatics of a centerpiece bonfire.

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17)