[Have you ever had a hard time knowing exactly what to think and feel about the eating of “The Bread?” Ever wonder why sometimes you just don’t seem to be in “the mood” to partake? Perhaps, you may have at some point wished that you were sitting in the back of the church so you could just slip out the door. And yes, I have too. In part, I think that the problem is that sometimes we don’t really know how to relate to the “Lord’s Table,” and also to the eating of the bread, at least not at the heart level. Yes, most of us know and understand intellectually, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem to sink in. True of course, sin can be and is often an issue. Yes again, anxieties of all sorts can figure in, including the football game right after church service. But I think that all of these issues may well relate back to just one thing; that we have, for whatever reason, lost our perspective.
The following story really “brought it home” for me and made me realize just how precious a gift this “bread of life” was and is, and also how hungry I really am for it; more than I could possibly realize. –MWP]
In February of 1871 a young French soldier lay as if dying in a hospital of Geneva. Cold, misery, and privation had destroyed the robust constitution; but worst of all was the heart-sickness, the longing for home.
Far away in his native village in Brittany was an old father over seventy, a mother, and a sister. Three brothers beside himself had left their paternal roof to defend their fatherland, and for months he had been in uncertainty as to the fate of these loved ones.
As he lay on what he thought would prove his deathbed he told a comrade that he would dearly like to see his old father once more. A letter was written, which found the family in great anxiety about their absent ones. The father, in spite of his seventy years, started at once. Many difficulties had to be overcome by the old man.
The father arrived at length in Geneva, and hastened to his son. “O, father!” said the sick soldier, “it is good you are come before I die.” “Ah, no; you must not die,” said the old man; “your mother is waiting for you at home. Courage, my lad; I have brought money, and will buy everything you need; only you must not die.” “It’s of no use, father,” cried the son, “I have here all I need; but I am not hungry. All sorts of good things are brought to tempt me to eat, but I cannot touch them;” and he fell back exhausted by this short conversation.
The poor father let fall his head on his breast quite disheartened. Had he indeed come so far only to take back the dead body of his son? All at once a bright thought flashed through his mind; he drew from his knapsack one of the common loaves of rye bread such as eaten by the peasants of Brittany. “Here, my son, take this; it was made by your mother.”
The sick lad turned his heavy eyes, stretched out his hand eagerly, crying, “Give it to me, father; I AM hungry!” As he ate his eye lighted up, the blood came back to his cheeks, and large tears rolled down his cheeks as he said, “It is so good! It is SO good! –The bread from my home!”
From that time he began to recover; and fifteen days later he was able to start on the homeward journey.
Jesus said, I am the bread of Life!
Think of it, like the young French lad, we are on the battlefield of life. Spiritually shot, wounded in sin, weak with a hunger we don’t understand, thirsting desperately for the water of life, we sit each week at church, not really partaking fully in the worship of God, just sitting there…We are expecting to die…we really see no future, we have no concept of our calling, and our home, our true home is not even a distant thought. Then something inside of us stirs and we think, “oh how wonderful it would be to just see home, our real home.” “How wonderful,” we think, “it would be to see and feel comforted by our Father, our Heavenly Father.” And then by the great work of the Holy Spirit, we somehow find ourselves partaking of the “spiritual bread of life,” namely; Jesus. And we realize that this is what we were missing. This is what was absent all along. Our perspective comes back, our sins are pushed away, and we hold on to this “bread of life” with everything that we have. We are desperate for it. But, you know what the good news is? The good news is that He is holding on to us with a grip that is far tighter than the one we hold on to him. He will never let you go! “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,” Jesus says, “and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” John 6:37
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. -John 6:35
Come on! Don’t you think that its time to start our journey home?
The “Soldier’s Story” was taken from the Swiss Almanac (1884).