Monday, November 17, 2008

Sustenance

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  (Micah 6:8)

Our church is doing something I'm so proud to be part of; it's called "The Micah Project."  The purpose of the project is to focus on world hunger, poverty and disease (think AIDS pandemic) and to respond with action.  Part of the project calls for a 6 day long "sustenance diet" where you limit what you eat for 6 days to rice and beans (flavored with tomatoes, onions and salt), bread, water, 1 apple a day and plain cream of wheat.  I did this diet last week to "test it out" before we brought it to our congregation and here are some observations I had...

1) I eat for pleasure...put simply, I'm a selfish eater.  I love to eat and look forward to it every day.  I plan my days around food and drink and won't think twice about grabbing a latte or other snack.  Much of the world eats simply to fill their stomachs...they eat for sustenance.  For them, eating is about as pleasurable as breathing...you just do it because you have to in order to live.  During the diet I was so aware of this fact...all the pleasure was taken out of eating.

2) No options.  The diet was all about limiting our options.  In the U.S., I have grown up with so many options.  All around me are eating options.  Want to go out to eat?  Ok; you want Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Vietnamese, Spanish Tapas?  Oh, you want to eat at home?  Ok; do you want a Burger, Steak, Pizza, Fish - salmon, halibut, talapia - Pasta, Chicken?  Oh, you want chicken; you want it boiled, grilled, breaded, cut into a sauce, chicken parmesian, chicken cordon bleu, or chicken alfredo?  You get the idea - we have limitless options.  During this diet I was so aware that my options were, well, to eat or not to eat.

3) It was hard.  I've been a pastor for about 8 years now and during that time I have had many days of fasting and prayer - fasting for a day is much easier than this diet was.  It's the same thing over and over again.  In fact, as the week grew on, I stopped eating my full allotment of food simply because I was sick of it.  On the last day I skipped lunch altogether...I just couldn't eat another bowl of rice & beans.

I doubt I will ever look at food the same...God has allowed me to enjoy things, like food, and that's O.K.   However, His desire for justice and mercy are much more important to Him than my desire for comfort.  This thanksgiving I will be more thankful then ever...but I will also be changed.  My wife and I are already trying to figure out how we can give more, help more and put into practice the things that are important to God's heart.


"If you want your leadership to matter, lead in the things that matter to God.  If you want to find yourself in the center of God's heart, you will find it in His passion for mercy and justice...Leaders that matter to God are those that are addressing issues and things that matter to God."  (Gary Haugen, President of the International Justice Mission)


Click here to read about our "Micah Project."

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