I enjoy the experience of buying groceries. I’m grateful not just to stock up, but to have the chance to amble up and down the aisles. I love the leisurely look at food, making choices, ticking things off my list. But what I love most of all is people watching – smiling at babies and children, exchanging friendly words with people, and generally contemplating all the life circumstances around me. Sometimes I’m too rushed to enjoy it, but if I am mindful, it all feels a bit like prayer.
But after buying my groceries this past Friday, my heart was heavy as I was trying to get to sleep. I have not been able to put my finger on the source yet, but lately I’ve been more stressed and that night I was feeling discouraged and a bit despondent. I know I have a faulty imagination when it comes to these things. I’m hard-wired to have catastrophic thoughts, thinking the worst, so I shouldn’t have been convinced by my fears. But there I was late at night, tossing and turning and in need of hope.
Lyle prayed for me, chasing off the demons of doom, which in itself was a huge help in fixing my perspective. As I drifted off to sleep, I wondered what my blog topic would be and thought back to the now full fridge of groceries. As good as that food would be, it still could only fill me for a while. Hunger would always return. I thought back to the faulty imagination of mine which gives me trouble. Where was the aisle in Superstore that would fill this grasping hunger once and for all? My full fridge just wouldn’t cut it.
Last Sunday morning, our church had talked about two kinds of bread. Scripture tells us that all the food money can buy will not keep our deep inner hunger away. For that kind of hunger, we can only turn in humility towards God. Our own striving and planning will not keep our inner thirst away. So many things in this life seem to promise that we’ll be ok and that we can make it on our own efforts. I myself felt that way in my younger days, but not any more. Good food, my beautiful garden, my accomplishments (such as they are), all my “stuff” – the older I get, the more I realize that there is no saving help in all these things. It’s not that they are not good, but they don’t ultimately help when I am beset with worries or fears. All these worldly things are what is called “earthly bread.”
We all have experiences of crying out to God, saying, “God, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty. I need the bread and water that can only come from You.” This kind of food can’t be bought at Superstore. My particular hunger lately has been to keep my eye on hope as I get through a tougher time.
The scripture from Sunday morning came back to me. An invitation from God.
“Come, everyone who is thirsty—
here is water!
Come, you that have no money—
buy grain and eat!
Come! Buy wine and milk—
it will cost you nothing! (Isaiah 55:1)
This verse is an echo of the Old Testament story of the woman who had hardly any oil or flour left to live on. Yet, when she gave what little she had away to someone in faith, the oil and flour did not ever run out.
I was grateful for Lyle’s prayers for me, but also for the Sunday morning homily. It came back to me at the moment I needed it as I tossed on my bed with my fears. I was reminded that God would not forget my hunger for hope. I woke up with a lighter heart the next morning because of God’s offer of mercy. I knew I wasn’t forgotten.