sumptuous sustenance

Today when we arrived home from church, I went out to the big upgright freezer to get out some bacon for lunch. I was horrified to find the door on the freezer standing wide open and everything inside melted. Apparently after we had stocked the freezer plumb full last night, a heavy item had fallen off a shelf and hit the door, knocking it open. Fortunately everything was still cold, albeit completely thawed. I immediately called my girlfriend and a good friend from church who is a wiz in the kitchen and started trying to salvage the dripping mess.

That’s when the humor of the situation really came out. When Darren arrived he started asking for all sorts of things that he needed to salvage the plain ingredients and turn them into delicious meals we could re-freeze. “Do you have any cooking wine? Lemon Juice? Cayenne peper (no, not red pepper, Cayenne pepper)? Bay Leves? A pepper mill? Beer? Garlic? Worcestershire sauce? Chicken broth?” My responses? All “no”. While I have a lot of gadgets and gizmos, I’ve never been educated in fine cooking skills, and thus don’t have many of the ingredients that experienced chefs apparently find to be essential. All of my life, food has been more about sustenance than it has been about enjoying sumptuous meals.

Thinking about this led me to recall how the Israelites considered food in the Old Testament. I recalled how the Israelites complained when the Lord would send them manna and quail (read sustenance) every day. They used to have access to a marketplace with variety and plenty (read sumptuous) back in Egypt. Now they just had the same two ingredients for every meal, every day for forty years. Sure they could have been amazed by the daily provision of the sustenance they needed, but instead they wanted more. And eventually they got it. Eventually they entered the Promised Land – a land flowing with milk and honey (read sumptuous). But that’s where we find a very interesting passage:

“Right away, the day after the Passover, they started eating the produce of that country, unraised bread and roasted grain. And then no more manna; the manna stopped. As soon as they started eating food grown in the land, there was no more manna for the People of Israel. That year they ate from the crops of Canaan.” Joshua 5:11-12 (MSG)

For forty years they had divine sustenance. Yeah, it might have been bland, but it was miraculous and always present in the exact quanity they needed to live on. Kind of like the meals that Elijah ate in 1 Kings. In chapter 17 we see him being fed meat and bread every day by ravens. Later we see him being fed bread and water by an angel — apparenly very filling bread, too, as it sustained him for a fourty-day hike to the Mountain of God.

I wonder how much the Israelites gave up when they ate that first sumptuous meal in Canaan. Would they ever again look to God in the same way for their very survival? And what of us? Have we become so accustomed to our rich lifestyles and freedoms of speech and religion that we no longer truly appreciate how grand it is that God has provided for our needs?