Ultra-Christianity: Part 12 - Need To Eat More
“Do you want extra “blank” with that order?.” Normally, I would probably turn down that extra “blank”, whatever it was. However, while training for the Northface Ultra-marathon, I found myself eating way more than I would ordinarily eat. I needed to eat more food to compensate for all the calories that were being burned up during the training runs. Before training for this event, I would estimate I would consume about 2000 to 2500 calories in a given day. During the training months, particularly during the end of training, getting close to race day, I estimated the intake doubled, to about 4000 calories. I would easily burn up about 2000 calories in a single 20-mile training run. During those training runs, I was reminded of how much spiritual food I was eating (or not eating) in my daily Christian walk. I also realized how much more I needed to spiritually eat to be obedient to God’s Word and His plan for my life.
“Your words were found and I ate them…” - Jer. 15:16
Here in the book of Jeremiah, we find a wonderful picture of nourishment and fulfillment. Jeremiah recognizes God’s Word, he absorbed the Words into himself. Jeremiah made them such a part of him that he spoke with complete confidence what he knew was to be God’s Words. He totally internalized them and allowed their meaning to become a reality in his life. This is essentially paralleled when we “eat” food; we internalize it. In essence, with food, we bite off chunks to put in our mouth, chew it, swallow it, and it is then absorbed into our bodies.
While training, I was eating more food, not necessarily because I was hungry, but rather because I knew that more calories where needed. At times, I found myself eating more food even when I did not feel like it. I actually got to the point where I was tired of eating so much. Once I told a friend that I feel like I am eating for two; he paused to look at me kind of funny. I had to explain to him that it was because of training; then the said “Oh, I wonder where that was going”. I explained that if I did not eat so much, then I would lose too much weight, my body would be depleted of nutrients, and I would probably become tired, weak, and eventually sick. During the race, I also needed to be replenished with food and water. The event had a few sparsely situated aid stations throughout the course. I took advantage of every aid station, drinking and eating during the race when I could. The aid stations were equipped with liquids such as water, gatoraid, gu-brew, as well as various food offerings, such as banana’s, apricots, baked potatoes with salt, stuff calledgu-gel (e.g. a gooey performance substance packed with complex and simple carbohydrates, electrolytes, and caffeine; yummy), PB-and-Jelly sandwiches, and more. When we use so many calories, our bodies scream for nourishment and replenishment. So it is in our spiritual walk. A little spiritual activity requires little food, but increased spiritual activity and preparation, requires a lot of spiritual food. Your soul shouts out for it!
“God, You are my God; Early will I see You; My souls thrists for You; My flesh longs for You…” – Psalm 63:1
What exactly is spiritual food? In his book “The Spiritual Man”, Watchman Nee defines it this way:
“Spiritual food is simply to do His will. Preoccupation with one's own supply causes lack, whereas concern with God's kingdom brings satisfaction.” - Watchman Nee
If we want to raise the bar of following Christ, we also need to eat more spiritual food, to do His Will. How do you know God’s Will? This comes in the form of more (e.g. quality) study of God’s Word, more (e.g. focused) prayer, more helping and serving others, more of listening for God, more Scripture memorization, etc. You might say we need a little “God-brew” or “God-gel” in our spiritual walk. If we do not eat more in this way, we cannot expect to mature spiritually. Put it this way, this is one area where there is no place for cutting back or going on a diet. Make it a practice to eat a great deal more of spiritual food! In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to go to the “all you can eat spiritual buffet.” God is always ready to fill our mouths and fill it with something that is sweetness in our body.
“’do not be rebellious like that rebellious house, open your mouth and eat what I give you’…I opened my mouth and He caused me to eat…And He said to me ‘feed your belly, and fill your stomach with the scroll that I give you.’ So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” - Ezk. 2:8-3:3
But remember, we do need to watch what we eat and know what it is that we are eating. We also need to know what the source is and the validity of the source when we are determining what to “eat”. Not everything is good for our body. Some food may look very good and delightful, very tantalizing and sweet. However, it may have no nutritional value for us at all. The same is true for what some pass as “spiritual food”. It may look wholesome and appealing, it may feel good going down. But of what eternal value is it. This may be true for “spiritual books”, “small group studies”, “Internet articles and web sites”, “spiritual discussions” with others, and so on. It is good practice to find out the “spiritual nutritional value” of the spiritual food you plan to consume. The absolute best spiritual food comes straight out of the mouth of God.
“…man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” – Mat. 4:4
Study and memorize His Word and you will have a firm foundation, be strengthened, have guidance, be nourished, have peace and joy. And eat plenty of it!
“Strengthen me according to Your word…” - Psa. 119:28
“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a lamp to my path.” - Psa. 119:15
“Your word is very pure, therefore Your servant loves it.” - Psa. 119:140
“I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great treasure.” -Psa. 119:162
“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” – Psa. 119:165
“Your words were found and I ate them; And Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” - Jer. 15:16
Questions on “Eating More”:
1) What type of spiritual food are you eating daily?
2) How much time do you spend in a given day eating spiritual food?
3) What else happens in our bodies when we “eat” food?
4) What happens to you when you eat spiritual food that has no “nutritional” value?
5) What type of research do you do when searching for spiritual food?
6) Give an example of how increased spiritual food consumption impacted your life.
7) Why does the Lord tell us “we can not live on bread alone”?