On Sundays we were given one square of fudge. It was about the year 1979 and I remember always being hungry. Sakeji fudge is a fond memory of finding grace in broken and hurting places. It is something like a brownie but the sugar is crystallised so it tastes way too sweet and is grainy in texture..but when children are hungry…hungry for food and affection, the fudge became for me a symbol of comfort and hope. Hope for the sweet treats waiting for me back home….my own bed, my mums hugs and the joy of not being so far away. We each had a Milo Tin to keep our treats and fudge in but unlike some of the other kids, my fudge would be gobbled up before the sugary sweetness could barely touch the sides of my mouth. No ants were ever going to even get a morsaI because I was hungry. I learnt that comfort comes in sugary sweet things and keeping sugary sweet things for later was not my way. So began a love relationship with food to find comfort and so too, the long battle from the age of 5 of seeking to find in food what I would never truly find outside of Jesus, the true bread. My emotional and spirtual hunger would continue and still does today but thank goodness, like Naomi, I discovered that comfort is not found in Moab, but found in the comfort of real food. The nourishment found in feeding on true bread.
As I look back over my life I am drawn to places in my life that I did not recognise I was starving. I grew up going to Sakeji School..a small school in the middle of Central Africa…I remember being hungry all the time. I had to to eat everything I was given and hunger will make you eat everything. Going home to my mum for holidays she would use food and her gift of cooking and hospitality to show us love and comfort and make us feel welcome and at home by giving us our favourite foods. I discovered emotional comfort in eating that lead to an eating disorder…where I equated food with home and comfort.
That starving feeling took years to break…It was not just a physical hunger it was an emotional hunger ..no 5 year old should find the hugs of their parents missing….it leads them to believe that their heavenly fathers arms are missing too and it leads us to go seeking comfort elsewhere.
I was 40 before I realised why these emotional cycles remained long after the eating disorder disappeared.
Those emotional cycles of famine in my own life continue but I have learnt to recognise them. Why do I now have such a hunger for the word of God …because it nourishes the rest of me. No other book reads me like the bible does. No other book feeds me like the bible does. The living word is found in it’s page, the bread of life is found only in him. I find my heart craving Moan more than I like to admit but Naomi’s story reminds me that it it will lead to emptiness.
I look back and see that very few pastors or leaders and those who were meant to feed have taught me to make bread out of grain. I as a nurturer, must be careful not to toss the grain at people and expect them to eat it. I have taught to make bread out of the grain. I was taught how to harvest the grain and crush it to make the flour that would turn it into something palatable and easy to digest. When I look for Christ in the scripture us when I find the grain turns to bread and brings life. It is my responsibility to teach others how to harvest the grain and turn it into bread and then feed on it.
When I was in my teens my mum taught me to glean the grain but I just didn’t want what was on offer. I needed something tangible.. I wanted something that tasted sweeter. We can not just feed people..we must invite them to the table and prepare something that is palatable. Giving grain instead of bread, to a hungry person will make them sick. We must make something that a hungry person is able to digest.
When home back in the village of Kipushya, with my family and our home made traditions, we would get to taste the scrumptious delicious treats of home…the taste of heaven and comfort becomes the taste of Apple pie, home made custard, roast lamb and gravy and crispy potatoes, Vegemite on toast and sweet cups of tea..they become the taste of heaven.
Famine for each of us and the hunger we feel for ‘real’ food of comfort and hope is very real but comes in so many different forms. There are times when famine hits me hard and I only know it because I find myself not feeling satisfied with the things I am feasting on..but it can take me some time to recognise the signs.
I have had times in my own life when famine has hit me hard and felt very painful. I know I have blamed leadership, my husband and even my schedule…but it is often because the bread available is not what I like or am used to.
Hurt and brokenness births a quest to find something to fill the void that hurt leaves behind . We can seek to fill it with places, people, busyness, food, alcohol, sugar, fun, a job and role…
My orphaned heart at the age of 5 had to learn over time that hunger for comfort and home is found in CHRIST and whenever I seek manna outside of him I will fall short and hungry but when I find it in God ..I find exactly what I need…and the hope in him and comfort found in him is enough.
Leaving Moab….was it hunger that lead Naomi to leave Moab or was it God?
I want God’s voice to lead me out. we often get up and leave something , out of frustration or hunger when we really should have found what we need in him.
I do not want desperation to lead me away from my source of food…nor do I want desperation to lead me back to him. I never want to leave him in the first place.