The trees are bare and cold, wet snow blankets the ground. Take one or two steps outside and the wind will wrap its arms around you in an icy cold hug. The few animals seen out roaming, cannot find sustenance. This wintry scene is reminiscent of a hungry, barren world full of hungry and barren hearts, anxious for something to sustain them. Sustenance.
By definition, sustenance is something that keeps someone or something alive. Sustenance is that which offers support, help, and strength. So where do we find it? We know where to find physical sustenance like food and water, but where do we find that which sustains our souls? Where do we find hope when we feel barren or weary? How can we we bring sustenance to other hungry souls?
For weeks now I've been turning around some verses in my mind, examining them like pieces of a puzzle. John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." Isaiah 50:4 says, "The Sovereign LORD has given me and instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary." This is how these two puzzle pieces fit: Jesus is the Word become flesh and He is also the Word that sustains the weary.
From the very beginning God spoke words and things happened. His words have always been productive. They don't return void. His words are continually active. They are not flat words on a page. They are multidimensional. They are life giving. When He sent Jesus, His words took on flesh. His words could now be experienced in person. They could be touched, held, and heard out loud. He sent His Word in flesh so that we could have a living example of how to think, how to love, how to live, and how to forgive. That's why it was important that the Word "dwelt among us". He sent Jesus into a weary, hungry, and barren world that hadn't heard a fresh word from God through the prophets for 400 years. Every spoken word, every touch, every action from the Word who became flesh was meant to sustain the weary, and fill those hungry and barren spaces. The Word who became flesh wasn't just sent, He was sent with an "instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary". Since sin and death were conquered on the cross and we have a risen Savior...He is STILL the Word that sustains the weary. So how can we tap into the sustenance that is the Word become flesh for ourselves and for others?
Time. Just like it requires time to prepare our physical sustenance, it takes time spent with our Lord to gain the sustenance we need for our souls. It's not easy to set aside time to spend with Him. We often feel like we have too much to do and too little time. Our time is precious to us. Jesus is precious to God, and God sent Him anyway. Time spent in prayer, listening, and reading our Bibles is an investment. It's an investment that yields an abundant return. In fact, it yields such an abundance that it can't help but spill over into the lives of all those we come in contact with. If we want to be filled, rested, and energized then this kind of time is essential. This is time spent in prayer pouring out our hearts before Him, but it's also time spent in silence simply listening. Listening allows us to hear the "word that sustains the weary". It's time spent reading our Bible. Hebrews 4:12 says, " For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." God's word is active. It's able to reach down into the depths and shape us. God uses it to renew our minds, and to bring comfort and peace where needed. Once we have received our sustenance, we can ask God to use us to bring His sustenance to others in this hungry and barren world. We can ask God to give us "an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary" just like Jesus. I don't know about you, but I want to have an instructed tongue...just like Jesus!
In a world where so many are worn out, discouraged, empty, and lost...I want to have an instructed tongue so I can offer hope. Words matter. If they didn't then Jesus wouldn't have been sent as "the Word became flesh". The words we fill ourselves with are the words we will have to offer others. Will they be sustaining words? Will they be life giving words? Will they point others to Jesus? The only way to have an instructed tongue like Jesus is to spend time with the Him...Jesus, the Word. When we spend time with Him and allow His words to sink down into the depths of us, we will have wise and sustaining words to offer others.
Time is precious. I know it's not easy to set aside time for prayer, listening, and Bible reading. There are plenty of times that I struggle to do it. However, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" that's how much we mattered to God. That's how much Jesus wanted to be with us...He came to where we are. We're two months into a new year. A new year in which we will need sustenance and so will those around us. While the rest of the world is busy keeping its dieting resolutions, let's feast! Let's feast for ourselves but let's feast for others, so we can have instructed tongues. Maybe then the world will be less reminiscent of winter. Maybe then, people will feel less barren and hungry because they too will have been sustained by the Word become flesh, whose life is flowing through us.