All of Us are Hungry

bread

All of Us Are Hungry by Marcia Lee Laycock

I grinned as the commercial advertisement began. I’d seen variations of it many times on TV. They always involve well-known celebrities, and the scenario is the same. I especially liked the one in which actor Robin Williams appears in the middle of a football huddle and tells the players to “get out there and make balloon animals” and “kill them with kindness.” Then someone hands him a Snickers™ chocolate bar. When he takes a bite he turns back into the real football coach. I also like the one in which Mr. Bean lands in trouble with a bunch of Ninja Warriors until he eats the chocolate bar and becomes one of them again. The tag line is always the same: ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry.’

The first time I saw one of these commercials I thought of a time during my first pregnancy. I hadn’t had much for breakfast one Sunday morning and by the time our church service was over, all I could think about was the fact that I needed to put something in my stomach. My husband and I went to a local restaurant and ordered quickly. Then he began talking about our finances. I tried in vain to follow the conversation, to no avail. Finally, I said, “I can’t wrap my brain around anything, especially our finances, until I’ve had something to eat!” There have been occasions since that time when my husband has jokingly said, “I think you need a Snickers™ bar.”

When you get right down to it, we are all hungry for the same things – love, acceptance, fulfillment. None of us will feel that we are able to live up to our true potential until we feel that those longings have been satisfied.

This has application in our spiritual lives as well. In one of his recent sermons my husband put it like this: “You can’t know yourself until you know Jesus.” It is only by getting to know Jesus that we begin to understand who we truly are as His dearly loved children. None of us can be our true selves until we are filled with the Spirit of Christ. Then and only then are we free to become our true selves, a being created in His image. Like the various characters in that TV commercial, it is by taking in, ‘eating’ His word that we grow in that understanding. Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”

Wandering around in a state of constant hunger is neither good for our physical nor spiritual selves. We need to be fed. We have been provided with a bountiful banquet of spiritual food that will sustain us. All we have to do is open a Bible and read.

Go To Your Altars

by Marcia Lee Laycock

Altar

At a recent writing seminar those attending were challenged to write the last few words we would give to the world before we died. A sobering thought. I’d been thinking a lot about altars lately, since I had been doing a Bible study on the ancient tabernacle and how it relates to us today. The study led us to realize that we are now the temple, the place where the Spirit of God resides on this earth. Another sobering thought.

The Bible study detailed the role of the various altars and furniture used in the tabernacle that was built and carried by the Hebrew people during their time in the wilderness. They were instructed in the construction and placement of the altar of sacrifice, the altar of incense, the table of the bread, the lamp stand and the brazen laver and, most significant of all, the ark of the covenant that sat behind the veil in the Holy of Holies. Each one had a specific purpose. At each altar the priests were to perform specific rites for the atonement of the sins of the nation.

That led me to wonder – if I am a temple, where are my altars? Do I have an altar of sacrifice – that place where I lay down that which is precious to me as an offering to the Lord? I should do so daily, within the sincerity of my heart. Do I have a brazen laver where I wash myself before entering God’s presence? I should do so on my knees, humbled to know that I can proceed into His presence because of the spilling of His Son’s blood that has washed my sins away forever. Do I have an altar of incense, that place from which praise and prayer and worship emanate? Again, it should be a daily practise, erupting from my mind and my mouth like a fountain.

Do I have a table, where the bread, the body of my Lord, is displayed in all its simplicity and glory? Is there a lamp stand, that place that burns with His holy fire that can never be extinguished? I must hold it up high for all to see. And is there an ark in me, a place where the remembrances of God’s faithfulness and holiness are kept? I should cherish them in the depths of my soul, bowing before that mercy seat and acknowledging the forgiveness He has extended to me by His death on that cross.

These altars all require my service, the death of my own agendas and ambitions, the breaking of my pride and a bowing down to His sovereignty.

So these are my few words, words that I would say to myself and to all of us who would be believers in Christ –

Go to Your Altars

the altar of incense, shouting out praise, petitions and songs; the altar of washing, bathing in His mercy, acknowledging His grace; the altar of the lamp stand, feeding the flame of faith as a light to the world; the altar of sacrifice, relinquishing your ambitions, your dreams and your pride. Go to your altars. Lay yourself down.

Written in Stone

Written in Stone
Written in Stone

The tables in the hall gleamed with china and glass. The church family smiled and chatted, all dressed in their “Sunday best.” The banquet, celebrating our friends’ many years of ministry, was about to begin. Then the M.C. asked everyone to take a seat and told us that this was our opportunity to honour the couple whose lives and ministry we were celebrating that evening.

One by one people went to the microphone to speak about what that couple had meant to them over the years. Most of it was complimentary and inspiring. But I remember what one young woman said. She smiled at her former pastor’s wife and said she was thankful to her for being an example of stylish dress.

I was stunned. Really? That’s it? I felt a kind of emptiness as the young woman sat down. And I thought, would you want that engraved on your tombstone? And it made me wonder, what will I be remembered for?

It also made me think of an interview I’d read with Malcolm Gladwell in which he talked about writing his latest book, David and Goliath. He interviewed Wilma Derksen, the mother of a young woman who was brutally murdered in Manitoba. As Wilma talked about forgiveness  Malcolm Gladwell recognized something astounding in that woman – “to borrow that marvellous phrase from Pierre Sauvage— (it was) the “weapons of the spirit”—the peculiar and inexplicable power that comes from within” (Relevant Magazine).

I hope and pray that I end up like Wilma Derksen. I hope and pray that people see God’s Spirit in me day to day. Sometimes I despair of that being so, because I know my flawed nature all too well. There are many times when I know I have not exhibited the love and grace of God. But I hope, indeed, I do know, that as I have grown in Christ over the years, those days become fewer and fewer. I am being changed by the Spirit in me.

I often grab hold of these verses in Philippians 3:12-14 – “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I am so thankful that God’s grace is new every morning and each day is another opportunity to get closer to Him, to read His word, to practise His presence and to watch for examples of how others are living for Him. That’s the only way to learn how to wield those “weapons of the spirit” Pierre Sauvage mentioned.

Those weapons are mighty. They can change us. They can change those around us. They can change the world. Those weapons of the Spirit are the key to being able to live for Christ. And they will produce in us something worthy of being written in stone.