– Isaiah 61:1b-6c
"'Gentlemen,' said the farmer, '...leave! For we have neither meat nor bread.'"
So begins the earliest known account (c.1716) of "La Soupe au Caillou (Stone Soup)," by Anne-Marguerite Petit du Noyer (1663-1719), a.k.a. Madame Desnoyers.
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Today's Isaiah 61 episode -- following the story of Christ's dyed-in-the-wool, turn-the-world-upside-down brigade -- brings us to a veritable meat-and-potatoes question: "How do these 'Blessed Mourners' eat!?" Indeed, those of us who would answer this passage's high calling cannot but ask ourselves whether it includes "holy" hunger and ruination.
It's a fair question, and one that Peter himself raised in Mark 10. To which, our gracious Lord responded, "... There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life."
Or, for the flat-out meat-and-potatoes perspective, we have Matthew 6: "Don't worry what you'll eat, drink, or wear. While the world is obsessing over those things, your Father's got you covered. Be a faithful Kingdom servant, and you'll see that His provision is automatic! [paraphrase mine]"
While this sounds good on paper ... let's face it ... Jesus was just being "poetic," right? And if we go to the original Greek, we'll discover that it works out to be, like, some abstruse spooky-spiritual meaning?
Actually, the original Greek is clear and simple--no bait-and-switch: "Don't worry, saying, 'What shall we eat/drink/wear?' ... Your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things. Seek first His Kingdom ..."
If you're starting to see a theme emerging here ... you're right!
- Mark 10: Seek to follow Christ over family and possessions: receive a hundredfold.
- Matthew 6: Seek His Kingdom over food/drink/clothing: receive all those things.
And our Isaiah 61 passage further connects the dots by saying, "You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles." Which, in today's New Testament context, equates to: "The Christian's provision will come at the hand of non-believers."
Think about it. Whatever your perceived source of income--whether a job, business, investments, Social Security (which is just another type of investment)--it all involves a transfer of "riches" from non-believers to you.
But here's where we get tripped up, especially when you add to the mix wars, health crises, economic downturns, investments "underwater" and what not. How am I to keep afloat when the buying power from my salary/business/investment/Social Security source is down, and the cost of living is through the clouds? What am I to eat, drink, and wear?
A Christian businessman friend called me just the other day. "What's your opinion on the coming recession?" he said. "It's not affected my business yet, but I have other friends that say theirs are slowing down significantly, and I'm getting worried."
It was an opportunity for me to share how the Lord had been changing my own perspective on this very topic. The bottom line is that the Christian's perceived sources of income are not SOURCES at all; they're just CHANNELS. Our Heavenly Father--the One Who already knows what we need (Matthew 6)--is the Source! As long as I consider my job or business (and I have both) as my source, they will let me down. But when I trust the Lord as my source, and I focus first on serving Him, then He takes care of dredging the channel when it's slow ... or changing channels if necessary. Economic drought cannot touch me so long as my trust is in Him.
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV)
How does this jibe with the promise that we'll "eat the riches of the Gentiles"?
Our "Stone Soup" fable begins with two itinerant men desperately in need of a meal. The farmer and his neighbors have a rich supply of edibles to which these travelers at first seem to feel they are entitled simply by virtue of their hunger. But the farmer rebuffs them, saying deceitfully, "Leave! For we have neither meat nor bread."
However, when the protagonists change their approach to one of service, offering to fill a cauldron with lovely "stone soup" for the enjoyment of all ... suddenly, the "Gentiles" are happy to contribute of their riches--a cabbage here, some turnips, seasonings, a cut of meat, and so on. In the end, the travelers partook of a feast, though they'd added nothing but stones from the dusty road they traveled ... and a willingness to bless.
Why not pray ...
Thank You for Your compassionate foreknowledge of all I require for life and godliness--even the mundane necessities such as food and clothing. This world is not my home; but, as I'm passing through, develop in me the heart of a Kingdom servant. And may I come to understand, deep down, that You are the infinite Source of provision--not my job, business, or investments, but You alone. May I trust wholeheartedly in You and eat the riches of the "Gentiles" that You channel my way.
In Jesus' name. Amen."
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 6/12/2022.
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