Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why did God design us with the need to eat?

The completion of our long run immediately transitions to growling stomachs and discussions of where to meet for breakfast. Sports’ nutritionists emphasize the necessity of refueling our nutrient and energy depleted bodies within thirty minutes of a workout. We exchange our wet, sweaty shirts for the comfort of a dry, warm shirt before a quick drive to the chosen restaurant.

Restoring our physical and 
emotional nutrition following a 
long run with good friends, food, 
conversation and laughter.

Upon our arrival, the host leads us to an appropriate table. The server, Susie, collects our beverage orders. “Water, in your biggest glass, and a bucket of coffee please.” These post-run beverages quench our desiccated mouths and throats.

Susie later delivers our various orders consisting of bacon, sausage, eggs, extra syrup with a side of pancakes or French toast, and potatoes. The food’s aroma instigates mouth-watering anticipation. We pause to pray before devouring our breakfast.

Do you enjoy eating with friends and family? Eating is fun! Mouth-watering food initiates change that everyone welcomes. The aroma delights our nose and enlivens the anticipatory tastes buds. Our stomachs slowly fill with each bite of nutrient replenishing food, a necessity for our continued optimal performance. The conversation and laughter energizes our hearts and minds.

Most agree on the significance and necessity of physical nutrition after long runs or workouts. In fact, the first century provides an example of five thousand men, (along with perhaps 5,000 women and children), walking while pursuing the leader and pacesetter, Jesus, on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee (John 6).

Dr. Larry Waters, my friend and 
Professor of Bible Exposition 
at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), 
offers guidance and encouragement 
for Running on Faith Ministry.

Interestingly, the Jews referred to this body of water as Lake of Gennesaret. The Romans called it Tiberius after the western shore city with the namesake of Emperor Tiberius (42 B.C.–A.D. 37) built by Herod Antipas who ruled for 43 years. The final stretch of this walk included a tough uphill finish as they left the shores containing a hot mineral springs, world famous for healing,[1] to climb up a mountain.

This quest offered no t-shirts, medals, trophies or prize money. Jesus knows the participants gathering to hear him teach are hungry. Since no restaurants, grocery stores or convenient stores were available, Jesus thanks God the Father for the five barley loaves and two fish brought by a young child. Each of the approximate 10,000 people pursuing Him then miraculously eat as much bread and fish as they desire.

The following day on the other side of the sea Jesus responds to the crowds, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal (John 6:26–27).”

I cherish opportunities to discuss God, 
Ministry and Running with Dr. Chuck Swindoll. 

Why did God design us with the need for nutrition through eating?
Perhaps God created humans with the need for physical food because physical nutrition helps us better understand our need for spiritual nutrition. Many types of food provide the essential nutrients for our physical life. Conversely, Jesus offers the bread of eternal life only through belief in Him. Belief in Jesus is the singular source of an eternal relationship with God through the forgiveness of our sins.

Additionally, since the beginning of time, meals represent relationships. An invitation to a meal in biblical times represented acceptance and hospitality. Yes, eating affects relationships. 

Discussing training plans and 
drinking coffee while waiting 
for our food after a long run.

History’s first recorded meal occurred in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, blatantly disobeying God. Their disobedience instantly ruptured man’s relationship with God. Yet trust in Jesus, God’s Son and bread of life, will reestablish man’s relationship with God.

Visiting about Running on Faith Ministry 
with 1984 and 1988 Olympian Joaquim Cruz. 
(December 2015)  
He was the 1984 Olympic Champion at 800 meters, 
setting the Olympic Record against one of history’s 
greatest field of 800 meter competitors. 

Joaquim Cruz is one of only five in the 
world to ever run under 1:42.00 in the 800 meters.

As we gather around a restaurant table to eat after running, let us give thanks for the physical food, our relationships with fellow runners and Jesus who provides the bread of life for an eternal relationship with God.

Bread of Life Scriptures:
John 6:33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”
John 6:35 “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 6:48 “I am the bread of life.”
John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

Benefits of Knowing Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life:
1. Eternal Salvation and an eternal relationship with God that begins upon belief in and full dependence on Jesus Christ.
2. Loving God with all of your heart, mind and soul (Mt. 22:37)
3. Loving others, desiring God’s best for them, as much as you love yourself. This includes strongly desiring others knowing Jesus Christ as savior (Matthew 22:39).
4. Having the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), which includes:
5. Inner Joy and Peace regardless of life’s circumstances
6. Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness
7. Gentleness and Self Control
8. These result in better people skills and less worry while training, in races, at work, in the community, at home and church.
9. Improved odds of better physical and emotional health. God does not promise prosperity or good health on earth, only eternally in heaven.

 Application & Ponderings:
1. Recognize each person’s need for the bread of life found in Christ. (Romans 3:23)
2. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only savior, receiving and accepting forgiveness of your sins. (John 14:6)
3. Salvation is a gift from God. We, mankind, cannot do anything to earn salvation and an eternal relationship with God. (Eph 2:8-9)
4. What long-term affect does poor diet on your health, energy level, performance and emotional state?
5. What spiritual junk food do consume? 
6. Do you place your hope in the world or in Christ? 
7. Do your thoughts and communication reflect Christ?
8. Read and study the Bible regularly. Consider starting with the gospel of John (New Testament).
9. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (Galatians 5:16-18). 

[1] (Radmacher, Allen and House 1999, 1327)