It looks appetizing, doesn't it? Warm, soft, steaming carbohydrate goodness, topped with melted cheese, sour cream, bacon, and chives...
What if God told you not to eat it?
Would you listen?
What if everyone around you said it was okay to eat? It is written in the Bible that, "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful." I mean baked potatoes are even lawful to eat in the Old Testament if we want to search the scriptures even deeper. If I eat one baked potato, no biggie... How much food do you have to eat to considered a glutton anyways?
"It's ok, just eat it. It looks so good. You won't regret it."
Deep down, you hear a different voice. It is quieter, but you know you hear it.
"Don't eat it. It is poisonous. Eating it will make you sick."
Which voice do you listen to?
Is it my flesh talking? The enemy? Or God?
What is interesting about potatoes, is that if there are too green on the outside or have been left in the cupboard too long and start to sprout, they can be poisonous. The green tint on the outside indicates the presence of chlorophyll and the potato's natural defense mechanism from being eaten by insects while it is growing is to produce a glycoalkaloid poison, solanine. This poison is a nerve toxin and if eaten in excess can cause headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. Another interesting scientific fact about potatoes is that they soak up minerals from the soil, so depending on where your potato is grown and what water is used to water it, it could be a healthy root vegetable to eat (it is even gluten-free!) or full of toxins and heavy metals. Though this post is not really to convince anyone whether to eat a potato or not to eat one, it is important to know what you are eating and where it is coming from, naturally and spiritually.
There is a story in the Old Testament about the Israelites complaining...actually quite a few of them. But one specifically about eating. The Israelite's had been traveling in the wilderness with Moses after being freed from slavery in Egypt. "And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger" (Exodus 16:3). The Israelites started to get so hungry in the wilderness, that they must have forgot what life was like in Egypt. They were slaves and all their sons were killed as they were being birthed. They forgot that God had freed them. They were free. All they could do was complain about wanting the old food they used to eat.
Personally, I grew up on comfort food. My mom cooked almost every night. Spaghetti with garlic bread, Beef Stroganoff, Meatloaf and mashed potatoes, Steak and baked potatoes. If it had butter and a cream sauce, we probably ate it. It tasted good, but really all it did was help me become an overweight kid who became insecure. And my mom and my family, they loved me. They were taking care of me. Their intentions were not to harm me.
The intention was to make sure I had a healthy home cooked meal. The knowledge they had of healthy at that time was that it was healthy because it wasn't McDonalds. When I left home for college I actually lost 15 lbs instead of gaining the "Freshman Fifteen." I had changed my eating habits, but I still was eating the wrong foods. In reality, I was eating less, drinking more, and using drugs. What I was ingesting was even worse, but I looked better on the outside.
Even though I looked more physically fit on the outside, I was hungry for the wrong things, and I started to crave poison. When you are starving, you'll eat almost anything. There is a documentary that haunts me every once in a while. It is about these children in Haiti, so poor and so hungry that the women make dirt cookies, just so that they can eat.
They are so hungry, they eat dirt.
Let that set in for a moment.
Being hungry spiritually can cause the same dilemma. If you do not have a close relationship with the Holy Spirit and you are not rooted in the Word of God, a well meaning person could offer you something to "eat." What if what they gave you was presented well? It "tasted" good. You digested it well and you felt fine afterwards. You felt great actually, because you weren't as hungry anymore. The more you ate it, the more you craved it. Little did you know, the food you were eating was contaminated. Not toxic enough to do anything right away, but slowly destroying you from the inside out.
When people start to realize that they are eating the wrong foods, they typically start a diet. They follow the latest eating plan that guarantees quick success. Most people want to follow a plan where they will see results right away. I mean, who wants to eat healthy and not lose 10 lbs by the next week? The problem is with this type of strategy is that there may be short term results, but usually people are unable to stay consistent because they are still craving what they used to eat. Like those Israelites. Let's just go back to Egypt, so we can eat the food we used to. I love God's response to His stubborn people, whom He still loves.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not."
Sometimes God will test us. He did it in the Old Testament and He still does it today. He wants to see if we will continue to eat His daily bread. The bread He sends from heaven. He wants to see if you will follow His voice over any other. He wants to teach you to hear Him and Him only. He called you out, you accepted, but now He wants to see if you will follow Him to your complete death of self. As you grow deeper in the Lord, the tests feel more difficult, but really it is the same simple question.
Will you surrender that for Me?
Surrendering different areas of our lives is uncomfortable. Most of the time, for me, it is because I don't know what is going to happen next. Usually, I have to give Him something that is more difficult to give up than the last thing I gave. Increased surrender. I have to listen to Him over my own thoughts in my head, over the advice from friends, and even over wise counsel from trustworthy leadership. Usually in a place of surrender, we are hungry. We are hungry spiritually. We want to hear from the Lord. We want to know what the next step is. There are many times I want to hear from the Holy Spirit, and He just wants me to learn how to wait. In that time of feeling hungry, it is so important to stay hungry for the right things. It is also important to be surrounded by people who are also hungry for the right things. I feel incredibly blessed because I know currently that I am in a place where the Biblical teaching I am receiving is coming from pure hearts and leaders who truly love Jesus. It is apparent the leadership at my church is led by the Holy Spirit. The people there genuinely love one another. A real church family. Even in the midst of a healthy spiritual environment, it is still vitally important to ask myself, "What am I eating? Is this bread from heaven or earth? Is there any leaven in this bread? Even though this food might be okay for someone else, is this the food the Lord told me to eat?
Confusion can come in when your in a place of indecision. This has been the hardest mental battle I have faced this last season. I started to doubt what I was hearing from the Holy Spirit because it was new. I hadn't heard anything like it before. It challenged me. I was being asked to surrender something I wasn't sure aligned with scripture. It didn't make sense to me. He asked me to give up something I had been eating for years, almost my whole life. I didn't realize it, but the food I was eating in my own home was slowly poisoning me. It was food from Egypt. He was just trying to give me manna instead. He was offering me full freedom in Him. Full freedom from what people thought of me. Full freedom from every chain of bondage the enemy tried to keep me in. What I was being asked to do was still Biblical, but from a completely different perspective. He started to show me why the food I was eating was tainted. It was grown in the wrong soil, it was being watered with contaminated, toxic water. He showed me how to use discernment and ask for wisdom. He taught me how to test for poison. I had to come to Him for my daily bread, because if I didn't I was tempted by the old food right in front of me. I even ate a few bites, the presentation was so deceiving. But, My First Love, He is so gracious to me. He knew it was hard for me not to eat it, but because He loves me, He reminded me what eating it would lead to. God also gave me a promise to hold onto to give me the strength I needed to keep walking in obedience to Him.
Jesus is coming back for a pure bride. It is important to be "eating" food from Him. Not the spoiled food from yesterday, not dreaming of the future meals you are going to eat in the Promise Land, but what He is feeding you for this moment right now. It may be the holiday season in the natural, but as far as spiritually, it is not time for comfort food. It is time to eat food that will nourish us and sustain us through the wilderness. It is time to drink Pure Living Water. Read the Word of God daily. Be at the feet of Jesus daily. Push through the daily distractions and ask for wisdom and discernment, even concerning the little decisions. Look for the signs He is giving you. Don't forget to ask if they are indeed from the Holy Spirit. Laziness and apathy could cause you to miss what He is saying and it could cost you. Not necessarily your life, but it can cause delays, or even put you in uncomfortable situations that the Lord was trying to protect you from. God is our Defender and when He is trying to tell us something it is for our good. Listen closely to what He is saying. Keep asking Him if You are not sure. The only way you will know whether something is pure or poison is if you have an authentic relationship with the Holy Spirit. Real relationships require love, time, and consistency to build.
Don't expect it to look perfect either. For me, currently the kitchen looks like a mess, but a real, organic, preservative-free, GMO-free, poison-free feast is being prepared by my Savior. I made a decision to stop eating the secretly poisoned potato and eat what my Father sent me to eat from heaven. And soon I'll be sitting down at the table.
"And So He Waits" by Artist Ricardo Colon
"When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart
I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You.
Nevertheless, I am continually with You;
You hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from You shall perish;
You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works."