By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.
“Go eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved of what you do.” Ecclesiastes 9:7
My wife and I were recently recounting the best meals we had enjoyed together over the years, from American experiences to foreign countries with their native cuisines. But we also thought of some of the worst; now memories which draw a chuckle. It may not always require a five-star restaurant to immensely enjoy what you consider a five-star meal in a hole-in-the-wall eatery. Amazing meals are most memorable, even for we elderly with faltering remembrancers. So are the memories of utter failures in a few meals suffered. We remember both. But mostly the unique and amazing ones.
Meals can be an exquisite experience where every bite is a cornucopia of tastes. God is the most phenomenal Creator to give us such incredible tasting abilities within our own mouths. It is not only fine wine connoisseurs who reportedly can tell a myriad of different tastes, of various nuts, berries, and peculiar grapes, with each separate sip of wine; but then there are even more varieties of tastes detected with each bite of finely prepared food. And, boy, do we ever have an abundant variety of food to choose from in the world God created for us.
Not only are different food groups available to you of plants, fruits, dairy, grains, protein, meats, seafood, et al., but also delectable native foods from around the world: Asia, America, France/Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Africa, etc. God has not skimped at all in designing such a huge, almost infinite variety of tasty edibles in his world.
And He tells us of the feasts we can and will enjoy with Him, from “the table He prepares before you” in Psalm 23 to “the marriage feast of the Lamb” in Revelation 20. God intends for you to celebrate with joy, while feasting on foods He has designed, with great thanksgiving for how and why He has created you. He has done it so that you might enjoy Him, while recognizing He is the very Creator of all things, including your sensitive mouth and your personally evolving appetite.
Meals can be a time of great fellowship, celebration, and transformation, like the book and the just as excellent movie, Babette’s Feast. Isak Dinesen crafted a marvelous short story of Danish folk in a small rural village enjoying what transpired in them as they feasted on a meal meant for a king, concocted and prepared by a once exquisite chef of Paris, now far removed from there, while living and working as a housekeeper in an isolated small country parish in Denmark. These difficult, lonely, and disparate folk, for which this fabulous meal was prepared by her, are transformed, rejuvenated, and made glad by their feasting on a meal they had never known the like of in their lives.
We were made by God to eat necessarily to live, but also to eat to rejoice and be thankful for our Maker’s provision for us. This is the reason for saying grace at every meal. This may be the only time you pray in your day, and it is usually a brief prayer. But if you are serious about your relationship with God in Jesus Christ, you must choose time to spend with Him in fellowship and worship, praying beyond meals.
Yet the entire meal itself can be well spent time with God. Make Him one of the favored guests at your table. Interact with Him as well as the other participants. For the reason you live to the next meal, and the next is that God is your provider.
Remember that eating is never a chore, but a gift. It is a gift of God intended to be a delight to your body and soul. Thank Him for His constant provision, and be glad in Him for the joy of eating, which is His joy as well to see your delight, while ever thinking of Him for His infinite goodness.
“Because the longing soul by Him with food is satisfied, the hungry soul that looks to Him with goodness is supplied.”
(6th verse of Book of Psalms, Psalm 107:1-9, 1940)