Our Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread…” (Matt 6:11)

Flat Breads
When I was a kid, I could tell when my mom was baking from halfway down the block. Even today, the smell of goodies fresh from the oven evokes a certain sense of comfort, abundance, blessing and love. There’s just something about bread that speaks to the human psyche. It’s something we share with each other in the spirit of fellowship, something for which many people around the world will stand in line for hours hoping to get, and something we long for in our daily lives.

Sometimes, we are forgetful about how lucky we are to have “daily bread” in our lives and how thoroughly God provides for us. I’m reminded of Exodus 16, which tells the story of the manna, and how the Israelites, who had been liberated from their oppression for just a little over 2 months, began grumbling and complaining. All they could think about was food, not how they had been miraculously saved from oppression, but how hungry they were, even telling themselves how much better it was in Egypt, because there, at least, they had their “daily bread.”

The Israelites were indeed hungry, and in a way that went far beyond their physical need for food, they just didn’t know it. Daily bread is more than mere sustenance. It’s a yearning to recover what was lost at the fall of Eden, an unconscious desire to hear the voice of God. In Matthew 4, after he had fasted for forty days, Christ was confronted by the “tempter,” who said, “If you are the son of God, order these stones to become bread.” Jesus replies by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, stating, “it is written, that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Today, we’re not so unlike the Israelites of Moses’ day. We, too, are hungry, to the point of starving. We pine for our youth, for that time when every word from the mouth of God seemed far simpler to believe, and far less complicated to hear. We search for it in churches that seem to be more like social clubs, than sacred spaces to “tabernacle” with the Lord. We listen to preachers who are more interested in teaching us “political correctness” rather than God’s righteousness. When we pray for daily bread, we’re asking God to provide us with more than a marble rye to fill our bellies, or a good story with some anecdotal truth attached, we’re asking Him to fill us with the everlasting bread of His holy spirit, His presence in our daily lives so that we may be counted among the blessed.

How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! For they will be filled. (Matt 5:6)

~SLM

The Poor in Spirit

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ begins his discourse by saying, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for they will see the kingdom of heaven.” So what does it mean to be poor in spirit? Does it denote those who are below the poverty level or, those who are pitiful, helpless or weak?

Perhaps it could be better understood, if it read humble of spirit – Happy are those who are not full of themselves, who are humble and least in their own eyes. When we are full of ourselves, it’s hard to see beyond the 2-foot sphere of our own personal space, our own point of view.  We are inwardly focused, looking at everything through the narrow scope of me-ness. We can’t see how our actions affect the lives of others, as if the wake we leave behind us in our passing is some mysterious phenomenon that is happening to us rather than being created by us, making us “stiff necked” and “hard-hearted.” When in our conceit, we think we know the answer; there is no room for maturation, no room for toleration, no room for truth. We become egotistic, unresponsive and dismissive, being so convinced of what we “know” that we miss what we need to know. We are in short, arrogant of Spirit.

Yet, if we are humble of Spirit, modest, unpretentious, respectful and obliging, the beauty of life opens up to us. When we realize how little we understand, grasping that our lives affect others in ways we could not begin to imagine, our outlook on life becomes more conscious, more courteous, more reverential. We become receptive of God’s will for us, we see through the eyes of Sprit and become teachable; we see what is important. And this is what is truly important: to keep our eyes fixed on Him who created all things, loving Him with our whole heart, our whole being, seeking His counsel, His way.

It really is an all or nothing proposition. As we are told in Luke 16:13, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” We serve either ourselves or God.

~SLM