What’s the difference between a Pop-Tartt® and a thick slice of homemade bread, lightly toasted with a thin coat of real butter and a teaspoon or two of homemade strawberry jam?
Or contrast the motel “free” breakfast with its cornflakes and Froot Loops,® “maple” syrup that has never seen a tree, and somewhat dark, warm coffee with a burrito filled with scrambled eggs and ham, veggies finely chopped and salsa with just the right tang. And, oh yes, freshly squeezed orange juice. While the motel breakfast or the manufactured-by-Kellogg’s “tart” may be sufficient to get us out the door, they simply can’t satisfy the hunger that goes beyond the physical.
With salivary glands working at Mach Ten, I think I have your attention. Yes, I know that the eggs, ham, and buttered toast aren’t in the top ten of your doctor’s recommendations, but I think you get the point. Substitute any well-prepared, tasty foods of your choice for the purpose of this discussion.
Many Christians endorse and participate in what is variously called a quiet time, devotions or simply time with God. A quick internet search found the following: 17 Verses About Quiet Time with God; The Quiet Time—What, Why, How; How to Have a Meaningful Quiet Time; Thoughts on the QT. All these—and many more—are worth exploring. But let’s think briefly about another experience. Some call it reading slowly, others say meditation. Author, pastor Eugene Peterson uses words that especially resonate with me: eat the book. Here’s an example.
Each week a psalm is assigned to a group of women with whom I meet. This isn’t a study assignment, looking into the psalm’s background, author, time of writing, etc. Rather we are to read the psalm repeatedly through the week, asking God to reach deeply into our hearts, draw us to humility and gratitude, perhaps bring conviction leading to repentance. One of the women, an avid runner, writes out the verses to “chew on” during her daily exercise routine.
Here’s what happened to me recently when I repeatedly read Psalm 118: Give thanks to The Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Actually, I never got beyond the first phrase of that first verse. God is good. I love to ask questions of the text with the discovered answers—the information I glean—leading me into deeper meditation and eventual adoration. What does it mean that God is good? Of course he is righteous, without sin, unchangeable, faithful. But is that what this word good means?
To my regret, I’ve never studied Greek or Hebrew but definitions in those languages are only an internet search away. I discover that in Hebrew, that word good has at its essence “completeness, appropriateness, benefit, sufficiency.” It’s the same word used in Genesis when God looked at his creation and declared it good. Creation didn’t have a moral “righteousness” about it, rather God looked at his handiwork and declared (in our vernacular), “Yes! It’s just as I intended it to be! It is functioning properly, it is complete and appropriate for my intent.”
The questions to be asked after any discovery of biblical truth are simple: Now what? and So What? And because I’ve already written more words then should be in any blog, I shall stop here without sharing what I thought about God’s goodness as complete, sufficient and appropriate. But why don’t you “gnaw on” the word, applying Peterson’s description for meditation. What difference does it make to you that David uses this creation word (“tov”) to describe God? How important is it to you that God “functions properly” in your life? That in his character he operates in a beneficial way?
Few of us have time to have a pancakes-and-eggs breakfast every morning. Too often there’s only time for a quick hold-in-the-hand meal to get us started. (Hopefully something more nutritious than the Kellogg’s variety however!) When time permits, a nutritious morning meal is preferable. Described above is not a Pop-Tart® quiet time where the designated number of verses is read, the bookmark placed for tomorrow’s edition, or even when Oswald Chambers or Sarah Young’s thoughts are perused. This is when we take the necessary time to sit quietly with God long enough to feast together. We’re on our way to a real meal.