Why a Manger? (the part of the Christmas story I missed for 40 years)
Sugar-free for 63 days, and I have reached the bargaining stage of my grieving its loss. Creeping as close as I can to its boundary. Nibbling the edges of sobriety by wondering if allowing myself the crumbs of something sweet would send me back to Day 1.
Wanting my cake. And eating it, too.
Looking to for the literal “sweet spot” where I can enjoy both satisfaction and sobriety.
Which really isn’t the point at all.
I have long known that true freedom from food addiction — a complete recovery — would have to be radically different from any diet or food plan or eating habits or exercise program I have used before.
Because while some of them were helpful, even momentarily healing, none were a cure.
Had they been, I would not be here now.
Which my mind understood to mean that returning to my previous medications for my food wounds would not be enough. For a final clearing of the dis-ease between me and food, a complete heart transplant would be necessary.
I have spent the last 63 days using various spirit-filled resources to aid in this transaction. The trading of pounds for peace. Choosing to overflow my soul instead of my stomach. Moving from death to life.
I am slowly learning to distinguish between physical hunger and soul hunger and feed each appropriately. Food as fuel for an empty stomach. Jesus himself as sustenance for a growling spirit of stress, loneliness, boredom, or feeling out of control.
I am eating my Daily Bread of His Word and lapping up the Living Water.
I am tasting and seeing that HE is good.
And still the struggle to surrender my whole body and its feeding habits is very, very real.
For more than 40 Christmases, I have heard its story.
A very pregnant Mary. A donkey ride to Bethlehem. A star-filled night. An over-booked hotel. A birth in a barn. A bed of straw.
Animals and Angels. Shepherds and a Star.
But I have always missed this part.
“You know that at Jesus’ birth He was immediately placed into a manger, right? But do you know what a manger is? It’s where the food is placed for animals — Jesus Christ was placed into a feeding trough! His birth makes a statement that He came to be fed upon.” (Feasting at the Lord’s Table, Mike Cleveland)
From His first minutes of life as a human, Jesus made a way for us to be filled. Sustained. Satisfied. In every way.
He would later testify that He came to bring us life. Abundant life.
Not life full of tiptoeing around a buffet or beating our bodies into submission. But a life satisfied first and FULLY in Him.
I admit I am still learning this process — discovering what feasting on the Lord and His Word and His Spirit means as it pertains to when to lift my fork and when to lay it down.
But I can tell you this. My hunger is building. It has never rumbled in me more than it does today.
Not for food. Not even for sugar.
But for a moment with the King. The one in the manger.