How to Eat Differently this Year

The sun shines in, virgin light across shimmering snow. The table floods with golden warmth, steaming porridge bowls.

The day begins with sustenance.

Malakai laughs, “I slurp down my toast!”

A frown knits across Joshua’s brow. “We don’t slurp our toast, Kai. We chew. Slowly.”

My Bible lies open on the table, beside bowl of oat flakes flecked with flax. I wonder: Do I slurp this heavenly bread down, swallowing, swallowing? Or do I chew slowly, deliberately… savoring.

We wake to a new year with intentions to eat differently. While we resolve to exercise more, lose weight, eat less, we begin the year starved. We gnaw for real filling, deep satiation.

So it should be. We growl, hungry for God.

And maybe that is how our empty heart places are satiated: eat less, savor more.

Words come to mind, a letter to this quiet inbox:

“I tried to use a One Year Bible this year and I found it too much for each day. I wasn’t able to really focus—it was too much content for each day.

I need some fresh ideas for reading His Word.

How do you read your Bible through the year? Do you follow a reading plan? Do you read straight through? What has been working for you lately?”

Too much content, not able to focus: swallow, slurp, swallow.
Fresh ideas: eat less, savor more.

My Bible beckons to Ps. 1:2: “on his law he meditates day and night.” Is that swallow, slurp, swallow–or eat less and savor more? I want to digest God’s Word, letting me become one with Him.

While we may read “meditate,” the literal translation of “meditate” is the Hebrew word “hagah” meaning “to growl,” sounding like what it describes, an onomatopoeia.

Hagah“–“meditate“–“growl“: one commentator refers to this meditating as “a deep dull sound as if vibrating within.”

A vibrating within, a hunger. We starve for God.

But we don’t seek fast food, tasteless, dry food that soon leaves us weak, but deeply satisfying, nourishing gourmet food.

To eat this book, to growl, hagah, for God and find filling, requires a reader who, in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke,

“does not always remain bent over his pages; he often leans back and closes his eyes over the line he has been reading again, and its meaning spreads through his blood.”

How to let God’s Word spread through our blood? How to eat this book and be changed viscerally? Do we bend over the plate, and vehemently consume? Or slow, taste, let it roll, swirl around, lean back, close our eyes, savor? Let its meaning stream through our being, cell to cell.

We try slow, sacred eating.

Read: Slowly read the text.

Simply, we begin to eat. Choose a book of the Bible. We read or listen to a short passage (10-15 verses) of Scripture. Not a nibble here and a nosh there, not a gulping down… but from the same book of the Bible, each day, a portion of 10-15 verses, over the course of 20 minutes. We savor, reading deliberately, slowly re-reading, waiting for the still small voice of God that will speak to us personally, uniquely, intimately. We listen for a phrase or word from the text that is specifically God’s word for us this day. We sink into a good meal.

Meditate: Chew on the text.

Now to chew on our word from God, the words we have read and eaten. This is not fast food. We will not rush, but meditate on this Word, breaking it down, letting His Word becomes one with our being. We churn the words over, entering into the text, imagining the words being spoken to us personally. Leaning back, we close our eyes and see ourselves in the words of the active and Living Word.

Pray: Pray the text.

After slowly savoring God’s word to us, chewing on it, we are grateful for real food. So we pray our thanks for our filling. Our prayers may be words, or prostrated worship, silent awe, voices raised in song. The word we have digested, chewed, has now begun to seep into our deepest selves, and we, filling, respond from those depths.

Contemplate: Live the text.

We still before Him who comes in the whisper, and hear how His Spirit tells us to live this text today. This food now fuels our speaking, our thinking, our walking. Our living. In the quiet of the meal’s closing, we thinking on practical applications, so that the Word in the Bible becomes flesh in us. We let God’s Word spread its meaning out in our blood, work its way into the sinews of our being so that we live out its vibrant hope.

I stand now, gathering porridge bowls that are empty, wiped clean with scraps of toasted bread. We have slowly savored, chewed, responded… and now we live from the strength found here at this table.

For what is eating but nourishment, the formation of health?

And this Bible that lies on the table, it is no different. Unless it leads to health, to changing muscle, organs, sinews, the marrow of our bones …

Food leads to bodily form. Hwo we read Scripture leads to spiritual formation. I am what I eat. How I eat.

Reading, as it were, puts the solid food into our mouths, meditation chews it and breaks it down, prayer obtains the flavor of it and contemplation is the very sweetness which makes us glad and refreshes us.” ~Guigo

What if this year I ate eat less and savored more? Much more.

So that He could form me.

Lord, let me read, meditate, pray. Then live it. Would You take me and form me? I am chewing slowly.

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