Sunday, April 4, 2010

Craving the Forbidden

She tells herself this week is the one. No more chocolate. No more white bread. No more anything with processed sugar or refined flour. And then it starts.

The cravings.

Where she used to go all day without thinking of sweets, now that they're taboo, visions of sugarplums dance before her eyes. She can almost smell the aroma of freshly made dough on the breeze. Everywhere she turns, some delectable treat appears on a TV commercial, a roadside billboard, or in a conveniently placed end-of-the-row display at Wal-mart.

And those gummy bears she doesn't even like? Well, now they look pretty good sitting in her children's reward jar.

It's been my experience that intentionally denying yourself something will make it all the more desirable, which made me think back to the children of Israel and their forced diet once leaving Egypt to find the Promised Land.

Free of a life of slavery, one of the first things the Israelites did was start grumbling about being hungry. And God responded by sending manna, a white wafer with the sweetness of honey, a daily lesson "to teach [them] that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD" (Deut 8:3).

David called it the "bread of angels" (Ps. 78:25). But true to human nature, once their bellies were full, they remembered the rich foods of Egypt, and they craved them all the more, saying "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!" (Num. 11:4-6).

So God sent them quail to eat with their manna until they were sick of both foods...and He killed some of the grumblers.

Imagine forty years of nothing but quail and manna. By the time the Israelites reached Canaan, most of the now-adults, and surely all of the children, probably couldn't remember any other food.

Then it just ended. Scripture records, "The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan" (Josh. 5:12).

No. More. Manna.

Did they miss it once it was gone? Did they taste it in their dreams? Did they continue to run out each day hoping a few flakes would be on the ground with the morning dew?

Did they crave it now that it was denied?

The New Testament picks up the theme of "bread from heaven" with Jesus who says, "'it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.'...Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst'" (John 6: 32-33, 35).

Jesus is the true manna from heaven.

But when I read reports of God moving in hearts around the world, I don't see a hunger in America for this bread of life, for the word of God made flesh. Instead, I see the most hunger for Jesus in those countries that deny their people religious freedom, those countries that persecute and kill men, women, and children for simply whispering the name of Jesus or for owning one page of the holy Scriptures.

There in the denial comes the craving.

It makes me wonder...would we Americans crave Jesus more if our worship of Him were forbidden? Or would we even miss Him at all?

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer, this post is so moving! I have been thinking about the manna, so I know the Lord is speaking to me about contentment. Contentment in Him, that is. And, such contentment is the essence of true joy!

    You have beautifully told of it today, and I want to thank you for your obedience.

    The body of Christ does seem so lethargic. You are so right in saying that we do not have the deep appreciation for Jesus that other countries do. Perhaps we would have a deeper relationship with God if we suffered some persecution for our faith.

    Many blessings,