It’s time to whet your appetite, tease your taste buds, and get you inspired! In a few weeks, I have a guest on the 4:13 Podcast who you will love, but before she joins us, I asked her to share some good stuff about food for the new year. I knew that if I was impacted by this, you will be too.
My friend, Margaret Feinberg, has been uncovering delicious insights in her new book and Bible study, Taste and See: Discovering God Among Bakers, Butchers, and Fresh Food Makers, and I asked her to share a few with you here. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!
Pull up a chair … take it away, Margaret!
The dawn of the new year often stirs dreams and hopes and resolutions, but it can expose places of brokenness and pain too. For me, one of those spaces is food and my weight.
I was put on my first diet at age 9 and have had an unhealthy relationship with food for as long as I can remember. I can’t count the number of years I promised myself this would be the January I’d fit into the jeans in the back of my closet and be more consistent at the gym to turn my flabby into fabulous.
Maybe you, too, have found yourself wrestling with weight, wrestling with calories, wrestling with what foods to eat around the table.
If this is you, please know you’re not alone. I sit beside you wrestling too.
But last year I decided to try something different. I went on a spiritual, culinary exploration to look at food in the Bible—not for diets or weight loss techniques, but in search of God. Because if God is in the redemption business, perhaps that can mean redemption in our pantries and around our tables too.
I cast nets in the Sea of Galilee, descended 410 feet into a salt mine, harvested olives in Croatia, studied figs at a world premier farm, and graduated with a Steakology 101 certificate from a butcher who calls himself, “The Meat Apostle.”
With each person, I asked, “How do you read the Scriptures—not as theologians—but in light of what you do every day?”
Their answers changed the way I read the Bible forever—and the way I looked at food. Time and time again, I found myself asking, How have I grown up in the church and listened to so many sermons and no one has told me these things?
Along the way, I discovered that God has been redeeming food since the beginning of time. Though the original sin involved Adam and Eve eating food, God uses food and food imagery to bring people’s hearts back to Himself.
Jesus uses a variety of foodstuff to teach spiritual lessons. He compares the kingdom to wheat fields and bountiful banquets and mountain-moving faith to a mustard seed. The Jesus we meet not only dies on a cross, but He also picks wheat, craves figs, and commands fish to be caught in Galilean nets. This is the man who describes Himself as the Bread of Life, the True Vine, the Good Shepherd.
If you look at the life of Christ, you’ll discover that when He isn’t multiplying a meal, He’s often coming from a meal, going to a meal, or teaching at a meal. Not only is Christ described as standing at the door and knocking that we would invite Him in to dine with us, but at the end of time, we will celebrate at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
What I discovered in this journey is that the table is set to experience God, deeper relationships, healing, and wholeness. Here are three ways you can start that journey for the new year.
1. Recognize the Table is the Place to Pay Attention to God
This is where God often reveals and heals. The nourishment and delicate flavors are within the food and those around the table. Through vulnerability with each other, we start to taste and see that much like the Galilee, the shores of our lives are strewn with displays of God’s miraculous power.
As we break bread, we find the hunger and satisfaction in the community our souls crave. As we share our lives, we taste and see God’s fruitfulness. What if you prepared each meal with a simple prayer, “Holy Spirit, come and reveal Yourself at our table”? Then live wide-eyed for the ways God answers.
2. Take Time to Study Food in the Bible
Perhaps you’ve never thought of the Bible as a food-filled recipe for a more satisfying life with God. I hadn’t for most of my life. A tool to recognize God’s voice in your life? Sure. An encouraging guide to awaken to the wonder of God? Of course. A road map for a more joyful relationship with the Divine? Definitely. But a foodie road map? Not a chance. An opportunity to think about the deep hungers of my life? Nope.
Yet, if you start to look at food in the Bible, you’ll discover it pops and sizzles on almost every page. You’ll begin to see the healing nature of oil, the provision of grain, the miraculous catches of fish in a whole new light. And when you gather around the table, you’ll be reminded of God’s goodness with every bite.
3. Expand Your Capacity to Give Thanks Around the Table
God created humanity so we cannot exist apart from food. With each bite, we are invited to give thanks to the One who hung the stars, rotates the sun, sets the seasons in motion. We remember the One who fashions raindrops and stirs clouds in the sky. All food ultimately comes from God. So, the table becomes a place of thanksgiving for the endless miracles of God’s sustaining presence and power.
Yet the opportunities to give thanks extend beyond the sky and soil. You can give thanks for the farmers who plant and nurture, the workers who pluck and pick, the drivers who carry and transport, the store clerks that stock. And you can ask God’s blessing and protection on each one. Instead of offering up your everyday prayer for food—shake up the way you say grace by giving thanks for all the people involved.
There is healing and redemption available in your pantries and around your tables. Perhaps God will transform your relationship with food like He has mine. Will you say yes to tasting and seeing what God has in store? This is a foodie adventure your stomach will thank you for.
What is one way you are inspired to approach food differently this coming year? Share in the comments below.
Connect with her on Instagram as @Mafeinberg.