Bread from Heaven

I was reading this morning in the gospel of John, and it got me thinking about bread from heaven. Here is the passage I am thinking about, it’s John 6:25-40…

25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Several things really stood out to me here. First of all, this passage is awesome: When the Jews ask Jesus what they must do to be doing the works of God, He doesn’t give them a laundry list of things that we should be doing. That question could easily have resulted in a very long list of difficult and demanding commandments, but that is not God’s intent. Instead the answer is simply “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”! Wow, if you’re needing clarification (and I think we all do at times) for works vs. faith, here we have it right from the Lord himself. It’s not the only place that this can be found, but it’s summed up very well here.

Naturally, the people then ask Jesus for some signs that they can rely on to know that He is who He says He is. This conversation is taking place, mind you, right after Jesus has just fed 5,000 people with a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish, the people who are talking with him had themselves eaten their fill of that bread and no doubt had also seen the 12 baskets of left-overs from this miraculous meal! They had sought Jesus out because they were amazed at what He had done, yet the very next day there they are back again, asking for more proof. I’d like to say “Those crazy people” and shake my head at their disbelief, but I’m right there with them–how many times in my own life have I desired signs, miracles, indications that God is who He says he is? What a patient, gentle and loving God we have.

And then Manna is brought up. Manna, in the desert days of Israel, came down from Heaven each morning and provided sustenance for that day only, it could not be saved for the next day, it could not be horded or stashed away in a pantry or dried or canned or frozen to provide a cache for future use. Manna could be eaten on the day it came down, but was gone the next day…and any who tried to save it found that it was rotten and inedible the next day. Manna was daily bread in a true sense! By this, God intended to make sure His children knew that it is He who provides for us, He who we rely on, God who gives us our sustenance each day. This is true whether we are living in the desert eating Manna or whether we are living in a large house with a year’s worth of canned goods stored up in case of emergency in our pantries. Many times I have found myself struggling with this, and for many years our little family lived on Manna–blessing that came down from Heaven when we needed them and gave us our daily bread, no less no more. I imagine that the Israelites got awfully sick of Manna, and I also imagine that many of them (like me) worried each night if the Manna would appear again the next morning. It did, day after day, for forty years….but I bet there were a lot of people who devoted a lot of time unnecessarily to trying to get that Manna to keep for more than one day.

And our Father gives us true bread from Heaven! Better than Manna, lasting eternity rather than just a day, filling our souls rather than our stomachs. The people ask for Manna, and God offers to eternally feed us with something much greater! Christ came down from heaven, like the Manna, but rather than disappearing or becoming useless after His appointed time He has grown, continued to feed the people, opened the gates of Heaven so that we might live with Him forever in a place more glorious than we can imagine. This is not bread that covers just our daily needs, nor bread that feeds us and leaves us satisfied only until the next hunger comes (and here on Earth that hunger *will* come, no matter what sumptuous meal we might have last eaten!). No, this is bread that feeds us more than that, that gives us life and hope and fills us daily so long as we are open to being fed, that takes us when this life is over into a place where we can live with Him forever. Amen! God is so good.

Whoever comes to Jesus will never be cast out. What a promise! And to add to that, Jesus then tells them the will of the Father himself…and this is such an amazing example of how much God loves us and wants to keep us in His flock. Jesus said, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Alleluia! Again, we only need to look on the Son and believe in him, and He will raise us up on the last day! God is so good.

Riversong


This one I started many years ago, and the words were similar but different in fundamental ways. The original song was written the summer I was born again, maybe a month before that beautiful night. It was not a pretty time. I was spending a lot of time in the desert (yes, literally–but in a figurative way as well now that I think about it) and was logging hours in on a rubber raft on the Colorado river, with the intent to become a river guide. The original song was written about the river, which carries you away so quickly and whose power can be deceptive in the slow, deep water but powerful and frightening through the rapids–where the power of the river to carry you all the way from the mountains to the sea is amazingly apparent. The words to the first song were a good window into my turbulent life at the time…I was sinking into the abyss, being swept away in the merciless current and powerless to save myself. Where the new song speaks of rising, the old one spoke of sinking. Where the new song shouts with praise and joy, of direction thorough God’s Grace, the old one spoke of living “Life like driftwood on the river’s back”.

My dear husband had the patience of Job that summer, because he had to wait for me to truly hit rock bottom before I was able to die to my own will, give up my pride and turn back to God. Despite it all he was there for me when I did hit that black place where there was no denying I was lost in sin and that I had to make a choice then and there as to where the rest of my life–and my eternal soul!–was heading. Had the burden on my shoulders not been so great it would never have brought me to my knees, which was where I had to be. I thank God every day for my husband, for his sharing his faith with me, for his faith in God and his devotion to God’s will, for his teaching and especially for his amazing patience with me. I try not to think about where I would be without him. The blessing God gave me in not only being saved that summer but also meeting the wonderful man I would marry is just too awesome for words!

It might sound like the opening sentence of a bad novel, but it was a dark and stormy night(!) when I finally found myself on my knees, alone in the dark, praying fervently for forgiveness and asking with all my soul for Christ to come into my heart, take my life, change me and have me for His own. I prayed and cried as the thunder rolled and the rain washed down, and asked God for a sign that he was there, that he heard my prayers. Would you believe that the instant the prayer was out of my mouth LIGHTENING STRUCK a tree right by the apartment complex I lived in? God knew I was so thick skulled it would take nothing less to convince me….but that was 13 years ago and I remain convinced to this day!

The Riversong as it was then really didn’t apply to my life after that night, and although I like the music and enjoyed playing the song it slipped away because it didn’t feel right anymore. Over the years I’ve thought about changing it, because there are so many analogies to the river and baptism and the song was, in many places (as I was that summer) very close to getting it right while still missing the mark. So I reworked it, and the new words fit much better than the old!

Praise God for his saving grace, that we can begin again and that he can wash away our sins!

Riversong

The river runs silent
As deep as Jacob’s well
I still can taste the water
From the river where I fell
Raging like the rapids
Flowing like a kiss
Rising with a new life
From an infinite abyss

I am running to the river
I am calling out Your name
And counting on the promise
I will never be the same

I was heavy with my burdens
They had brought me to my knees
I had turned to You a blind eye
And my own desires appeased
But at night I heard you calling
Heard you whispering my name
Heard you promise me a new life
I will never be the same

Will you take me to the river
Will you wash away my sin
Put to death the one who I was
Let my heart be born again

As I rise up from these waters
And my past is washed away
Lord I give to you my new life
This, in Jesus’ name I pray
Praise you God for your deliverance!
Praise you God for all your Grace!
Praise you for the awesome knowledge
That one day I’ll see Your face!

I am running down this river
I am calling out Your name
Thank you Father for the promise
I will never be the same

A new song


Hubby and I have gotten the guitar and bass out and dusted them off after too many years of neglect. We are not good, but it’s fun to play and it’s a much needed release. I haven’t written poetry for years and years, for two reasons…one, sheer lack of time. It’s a poor excuse, but I just haven’t been able to make it a priority for many years now. Two, I tend to only write poetry when I’m miserable or heart broken and (thank the Lord!) despite the ups and downs and challenges we’ve had in the last years I haven’t hit “poetry-low” for a long time. This is because of God’s grace, and so it makes sense that the first poetry I’ve written for years is about Him. These are songs I’ve been working on…I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add the disclaimer that they are works in progress and will certainly change as we work music to them. Also, the chances are good that Hubby and I won’t get a chance to work on these for…well, who knows how long. But, it was good to get them down! Here’s the first.


Lord your love surrounds me
Lifts me up, astounds me
My Lord and God, My Father
Truly there is no other
No other could love like You

And You came down,
Like the sun on the ocean
You came down,
Like a cool summer breeze
And you came down
On the wings of a white dove
You came down
From your Kingdom in Heaven for me

God above all nations
God of power and love
Lord of lords and King of kings
To you all of creations sings
Holy is your name!

And You came down,
In the thunder and lightning
You came down
In a rushing of strong wind
And You came down
In tongues as of fire
You came down
From Your Kingdom in Heaven for me
For me…From Your Kingdom in Heaven for me