Susan C. Anthony

ElephantSpiritual Food and Drink

I’m sure you’ve all heard the old joke about how to eat an elephant. One bite at a time. Do you know how big an elephant is? It weighs about 6 tons, or 12,000 pounds. Their skin alone is up to 1.5 inches thick and weighs a ton. It would take a lot of bites to eat an elephant! There is no way anyone could eat one at a meal, but given time, it is possible for a person to eat a whole elephant.

The average American eats about 3,000 pounds of food every year. If you ate nothing else, it would take about four years to eat an elephant.

When I was in 6th grade, I read the whole New Testament straight through. I felt pretty righteous and holy about that, but it was like eating an elephant at once. The only way to learn the Bible is one bite at a time. If you persevere, keep eating elephant, or keep reading and learning the Bible, it becomes part of you and fuels your life.

Just like we need physical food every day for our physical bodies, we need spiritual food every day for our spirits. Skip a day and you are hungry. Skip several days and you begin to starve. If we don’t connect with God through prayer and the Bible on a daily basis, we gradually starve our spirits.

Junk food may keep you from starving but it won’t keep you healthy. What we put into our minds and hearts is spiritual food. It’s what our minds think about, or digest, during the day. Just as the carrots or cheese you eat are transformed into YOU by your digestive system, the things you introduce into your mind give it ideas to digest during the day. Have you ever had an advertising jingle play itself again and again in your mind? That’s an example of mental "junk food". Your mind chews on what it is fed and it becomes part of you, for better or for worse.

When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," we are asking not only for physical food but spiritual food. In Amos 8:11, a famine is prophesied, not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Of course, it’s not good to be content with just bread when the Bible has so much more to offer through in-depth study. Why settle for the bread, a bare minimum, when a richly laden table of delicacies has been laid out for us?

Now, bread cannot be digested without water, and in some ways water is even more important than bread. We can live without food for more than two months, but will die in a little more than a week without water. Spiritually, what is water?

Remember that at Horeb, Moses struck the rock and water gushed out of it? In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul says of the Israelites:

They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

The striking of the rock foretold the death of Christ. The gushing out of the water foretold the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says we were all given one Spirit to drink. So spiritual water is the Holy Spirit.

The point is to spend time reading and studying God’s word a little bit every day, day after day. That’s the only way to eat an elephant.

It is only because of the Spirit that lives within us that we are able to digest the word of God. With the help of the Spirit, the Word becomes part of us, just as the food we eat becomes part of our bodies. It fills us and nourishes us, day by day, one bite at a time.

My youngest brother is what you might call a health nut. He’s over 50 and has kept his body as fit as it was when he was a gymnast in high school. A few years ago he went on a cantaloupe diet. He must have read a book or something. He ate four cantaloupes a day for two months. His skin turned orange! We become what we eat. Our spirits become what our spirits eat. Feed on bread from heaven and drink living water. If you don’t really want to take time to do so, pray for the desire David expressed in Psalm 63:

Oh God, you are my God. Earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Note:  This talk was presented by my husband Dennis at our small church.

Go on to read The Tallit, Jewish Prayer Shawl
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