I gripped the brown and silver packet between my fingers, raised it to my mouth, and let my incisors tear off the thin tab.
I kept my pace, squeezed the packet and tasted the faux-brownie goop as it dispersed on my tongue. Every 45 minutes. Grip. Tear. Squeeze. Go..
Training for a marathon requires that you throw some caffeine down every once in a while, to shut down the furor of screaming fast-twitch muscles and bring your energy level back up after you thrust it downward with each stride.
You need to be sustained. It's a long run. 13. 14. 20 miles. You need to be sustained.
The people of Israel stood outside the Promised Land as their aged leader, Moses, repeated the speech he gave to their great-great-grandparents. Sure there were a few added notes, but it was largely a repeat. Then he talks about that one time when God fed them, kept them alive, with a mysterious unknown food from heaven:
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna...to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
You needed to be sustained. So God did it, simply and mysteriously but He did.
Jesus would quote this when He was starving and the Tempter suggested that granite would make a good multigrain loaf.
You need to be sustained, The Tempter observed.
You have no idea, the Savior responded.
Jesus and His disciples were engaged in a discussion, maybe even an argument, about whether Jesus should have been talking to an "unclean" Samaritan woman in the middle of the day. It was bad PR.
Someone changes the subject, "Rabbi, eat something." It's hot, it's been a long day, and frankly this is awkward.
"I have food to eat that you know nothing about," Jesus responded. (see John 8:32).
You need to be sustained, The Disciples worried.
You have no idea, Jesus responded.
We walk a rock-covered path these days. Spiritual carbs are eaten up like mid-Fall leaves in a bonfire. We run with angels and demons, we are devastated by pain and weary from protecting our hearts and souls from assault. Even with the aid of a Spirit that sits in our deepest places, our body and mind wane and wander.
We need to be sustained.
We have no idea.
Jesus is not judging the days of our life on a sliding scale, moving up and down based on the amount of good religious things we do.
He is inviting us to bread. To the table. To eat and be filled because we're facing the darkness head on for a significant amount of time. We are watching broken children, adults, and couples dance softly into oblivion and we're asked to cut in. To speak goodness and grace.
We keep up this pace too long - without Scripture, without prayer, without community - and our systems shut down. We die in the desert. We get tired of fighting the Tempter and we say "Just this once. I'll be sustained by something that I know will bite back."
What's sustaining you today?
What invitation is Jesus giving you that is bread from another place? Mysterious food from heaven that you've never seen before?