What is Bread?
What if Albert Schweitzer had gone to Africa and set up a hospital there, only to have the natives stay away and avoid what he had to offer. Instead, what if they continued to rely on their homemade remedies for sickness, their witch doctors, and their superstitions. I can only imagine the agony of his heart as he would plead with the locals, "Please come to me. I can help. It won't cost a thing. And it will give you life you cannot possibly fathom right now. Just come!"
His words would carry with them both an invitation and a lament. "Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread? And your labor on that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good! And delight yourself in abundance!" (Isa.55:3). It sounds like God is pleading for us — as well as inviting us — to come to the table, to eat, to be filled.
I still remember the day very clearly, when I saw that what I held in my hands was not bread. I finally said out loud that I was, in fact, famished for lack of food. And it wasn't from lack of "labor" or effort. Whatever it was that I had been trying so hard to do was simply not providing bread for my soul. I remember uttering the words, "God, whatever it is that I'm doing — it's not working!" That realization changed the direction of my life forever.
That invitation and lament now seem inseparable to me. Only in the light of our impoverishment does the beauty of the banquet become so desirable; only in the light of the banquet does our impoverishment become so terribly tragic. May God give us eyes to see what we are eating, and to know what is bread and to know when we are not being fed at all. The tragedy of so many starving Christians is that the food is so lavishly abundant. The beauty of it all — is that it is so freely given and lavishly abundant!
"Come to the waters! You who are broke, come and eat for nothing. For whatever you can earn by your own effort will not satisfy you anyway. So come and eat, and be filled!" (Isa.55).