I Have Food That You Know Nothing About
In John chapter four there is the account known as Jesus talking to “the woman at the well”. The part of the story that I like is when Jesus’ disciples return from their food-buying expedition into town. It seems that lots of things are going on around Jesus, and His disciples are worried about Him nourishing his body. But he replied to them in a tiniest of parables. He said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” But the disciples didn’t hear a “parable”. They heard a stated fact. So Jesus explained, “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
In your christian lives you will have ample opportunity to work on one project or another with your church. And you can have a great time with your church family in these outreaches or whatever. But there will be those times when you do something, almost on a whim, and it turns out to be amazing and satisfying. You will realize that you have just been involved in a sort of miracle, something that cannot be attributed to mere happenstance. Here’s one of the few examples in my own life.
Many years ago, on a warm summer’s afternoon I was driving from Nashville to Chattanooga. Just out of Nashville I saw a man hitchhiking. Without much thought I made the decision, just as I was passing him by, to pick him up. As he approached the car I got a better look at him, and realized that he was quite scary looking. For just a moment I contemplated peeling out of there before he could get in. But I didn’t.
He was quiet as we drove along. His head was almost shaved, and he had lots of scars and tattoos. He said he that he had just got out of prison and was trying to get to Florida. When I asked him what he was in prison for, he dryly answered, “murder” as he stared emotionless out the front window.
As we drove his eyes began to grow heavy as he fought off sleep. I told him he could recline his seat if he wanted, but he would not allow himself that kind of vulnerability with a stranger, and I understood that. So I was quiet.
Wanting to witness to him in some way, and being a little afraid myself, I decided to plug in a praise and worship cassette. I thought that might at least put him at some ease in his weariness. As we drove I began to get an inkling that I ought to buy this man some food. And so an internal argument ensued in my thoughts about the matter. All I had on me, you see, was a credit card, and I didn’t want him to know that I had it. After all, I was already thinking about my plan if it turned out that he wanted to commandeer my car in Chattanooga. So I put the matter to rest, I would not be stopping, or so I thought.
Somewhere in rural Tennessee between Nashville and Chattanooga, on a Sunday afternoon, where businesses were scarce, most being closed for Sunday and with soft worshipful music and the lullaby of the road singing their sleepy songs to both of us, a sudden loud and continuous noise and vibration started us from our daze. I entered the emergency lane and learned that though it was still holding air, the tire had come apart.
It so happened that we were right at an exit off the freeway, so I followed the ramp i[ tp the stop sign as I contemplated a tire change. But as I came to a stop I saw two things that changed everything. An open tire store, and right across the street a Golden Corral. As far as I can remember, those were the only two businesses open. This was a rural stretch of I-24. It was over 20 years ago, it was on a little two lane road that happen to intersect the freeway, and there weren’t lots of businesses around. Just these two as far as I can remember. But what is important is the fact that I then realized that God wanted this man fed, and He was going to feed him, and I was going to be the one who did it. That was impeccably clear to me as I rolled to a stop.
The whole experience became a wonderful one. It is an experience that I think only a Christian can appreciate. It was the maker of the heavens and the earth, the creator of all things, deigning to use me in his work. I can tell you that there’s nothing like it in this entire world. I took my car into the tire shop and told them to replace the two rear tires then I offered the hungry soul with me an all you can eat feast. It was a special treat to watch that man eat, and to see the excitement in his eyes.
But I too was fed in more ways than a physical meal for my physical body. I was fed by doing God’s will and his work. And when we are fed in that way, it is better than the best of the best in gourmet feasts. Most of us, I’m convinced, have very few opportunities like this to actually see God’s hand move. But I am also convinced that it need not be quite so rare. That day, I missed a golden opportunity. Today I would have no problem to almost immediately strike up a conversation concerning the Gospel. Then, as a new Christian I was afraid. I don’t know why. As I’ve introduced the Gospel to more and more hurting people it has gotten much easier to do.
That day was a blessing to me more than it was to that poor man. He didn’t hear of God’s redeeming love from me that day, as he should have. But I caught a glimpse of God’s sovereign hand at the price of two tires and two meals. I have learned since then to reject, outright, the notion that the Gospel is preached without words. There are many many organizations and people who expend themselves in alleviating human suffering. But that’s all they do. Preaching the Gospel is the only hope that the cause of that suffering, which is man’s unredeemed heart, will be dealt with. Jesus said that fixing up the outside of a man was nothing more than whitewashing a tomb full of dead men’s bones. Jesus deals with the heart through the Good News of reconciling man with God.
I pray for you therefore, dear children, as you walk through this life that you will feast on doing the will of him who sent you and finishing his work. The field is indeed white for the harvest, so I pray that you will go forth, and reap a barnful of food that you will find eternally satisfying.