I’m a foodie, I admit it. Not that I claim to have any sophisticated palate, but my culinary tastes are broad and varied and I take tremendous — sometimes even rapturous — delight in eating. I know what’s good and what I like, and it matters little to me whether a dish is ethnic, fusion, Pacific Rim, American or Continental cuisine. I love seafood, steaks, barbeque and down-home comfort food. It can be served blackened, grilled, broiled or deep fried. Heck, I could even live for weeks on yummy salads, veggies, soups and fresh baked bread.
My wife thinks I’m nuts when we’re out at a restaurant and I can’t resist the urge to photograph a particularly beautiful dish and post it to Facebook. In fact, one of the ways I remember the places we’ve visited is by linking it to a particularly spectacular meal — sort of like a gastronomical mnemonic device.
Why We Eat?
I hear at times someone exhort me or another to change our approach to food, and “eat for sustenance instead of enjoyment.” I even know a person or two who have such pragmatic (and boring) views of food that they would be perfectly content to fuel their bodies with nutrition pills in lieu of all meals if they could. Forget that. I’ve derived waaay too much pleasure from eating to even think about such ideas, and if that is where nutrition is really headed, it forebodes a future dystopia that I sincerely hope tarries until after my last meal.
The Word as Food
You might be surprised to know how frequently the Bible uses food references to depict our relationship with God and his Word. The psalmist encourages us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), and that to me is the best invitation to extend to one who may be wondering if Jesus can be trusted.
More often, the food references are to God’s Word, and they are sometimes in graphic terms. The apostle Peter wrote that we should “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk” (1 Peter 2:2), and another psalmist exclaimed “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). The prophet Jeremiah brings it home, writing:
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty” (Jeremiah 15:16)
As I’ve gotten older, and after 45 years of reading and studying the scriptures, I’ve begun to understand what Jeremiah was talking about. I get such delight in reading and meditating on the Word that if it isn’t a regular part of my day, I feel hollow in my soul — spiritually malnourished, if you will. But even that’s a distinction I find has blurred, as the hunger I feel during such times isn’t just spiritual — it gnaws at my entire being. So, too, the delight when I regularly feast on that glorious food. Just this morning, I read a thought that I’ve been chewing on throughout this grueling day:
“You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:28-29)
Now that is nourishment I can’t live without!