Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.”
Old-timers tell me it has been a mild winter here in Washington. Last weekend the forecasted final snowfall materialized as rain—cold, nourishing rain. I think the grass on my lawn performed a happy dance, perceiving the suffocating density of snow had passed. I have been keeping an eye on the tangles of naked limbs, stark beneath the over-towering evergreens. Every day I look for glimmers of spring—a bud, a speck of green, soon a bloom. Our lawn now has a hint of green rather than dried up yellow this week, and that feels hopeful.
It felt like a long, cold, bleak winter to me—one of the most challenging in my life as I grappled with purpose, vision, and placement. My husband had finished his doctoral program in May, and although Dr. Miller walked across that stage and is the proud possessor of a framed diploma, we are still here in a city to whom we feel no natural affection or belonging. God has not yet released vision and direction. Our books, our personal items, all our art are still in storage in San Diego. We are hungry for geographic placement.
In meditating on the concept of receiving life, I question what it means to truly receive from the Lord’s hand. Why are we eager to receive direction that is still withheld? I had to look deeply into the mirror of my circumstances, expectations, and the foundation of all Truth—Scripture.
Willing To Receive
Jesus shared with the masses, “I am the bread of life.” We need bread to survive—it’s the foundational sustenance of any diet. Your bread may be gluten and grain free, as in my case—keto, paleo, sprouted or stuffed with tasty things. Every culture around the world has their “bread”, whether it’s rice, tortillas, yeast bread, flat bread, or potato bread. It represents nutrition and life. Bread is found over 300 times in Scripture. Exodus 25:30 instructs the Israelites to keep the bread of the Presence always before the Lord. Scripture records numerous references of people crying out for bread.
I see hungry people all around me, dead in their sins—individuals who are hungry and desperately needing the bread of Life. Some are aware of their need and some keep their hands closed tightly behind their backs, blocking your attempt to bless and give.
Yes, it is more blessed to give than to receive. It’s humbling to admit your need, to open one’s hands and accept. Years ago, we were part of a homeless ministry in San Diego, which gave us the opportunity to take the kids downtown and give bread to the men and women on the streets. No one turned us down, ever. They received the nourishment freely, and joyfully shared. They had nothing and needed life.
In response to Jesus’s declaration that the water He gives will become in Him a spring, welling up to eternal life, the Samaritan woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
She begged for water, for life—initially, for all the wrong reasons—and was given a Savior, life Himself. She received a life she didn’t know she was missing.
My first pregnancy was fairly mild, but unexpected. I had recently begun a much-loved new job with The Core Knowledge Foundation in Virginia, helping schools nationwide adopt our curriculum in lower income school districts. It was a noble cause and we were making a difference. To be perfectly honest, I was irritated at being pregnant. I was unsure I wanted this interruption of my passions and to embrace the stressful double role of working mother. During my pregnancy I often talked and read to the little “guy” (we never had a sonogram but Mark knew from conception we were having a boy). I grew to love the idea of being a mom, though I was still uncertain of the future, and I began to look forward to sharing my dreams and love of literature.
Early one morning, after a number of hours in natural labor, the midwife placed tiny little Ian into my outstretched arms. I received him. I received this new life, stark-eyed with wonder at his eviction from such a warm, cozy nest. I received inconvenience. I received joy. I received bewilderment. I received opportunity and love and life.
Isn’t that what compels us to sing in spring? Life all around—birdie eggs, blossoms, tender greens, and baby goats. God must have embedded hope into our spirits, a childlike wonder of new, tiny creatures. We join in awe, marveling how such a wee little egg can become a grand crowing rooster; how the tiny mustard seed emerges into a towering plant; how little Ian, 17 years later, looks down on me and can flip me over his shoulder.
I want to walk humbly and receive, to open my heart and mind to all Jesus has for me, wherever that leads and regardless of the trajectory of my health journey, ministerial placement, etc. However, when I get still and ask the Holy Spirit to divinely reveal His direction for us, I wonder— am I open to receiving everything but Life?
If Jesus is the bread of life and I open my hands to humbly receive Him, I choose to submit to the journey. And that journey leads me into all Truth, Freedom, perfect Love, timely Direction, and Life—Jesus Christ, Himself. He is perfect in all His ways.
My father, now with Jesus, impressed on me that it’s really hard to “miss” the will of God. When he had a task for me to engage, my father spoke clearly and gave me direction; likewise, because I trusted him, my ears were attentive to his voice and direction—eager to follow through. He taught me that my heavenly Father deals no less gently and clearly with me when I am attentive to Him.
We serve the Good Father, and He loves us beyond comprehension. His heart towards us is perfect love. I am choosing to be still and receive Life, regardless of the trajectory His directions may take us. I exhort you to join me in joyfully dancing before His throne as children without a care in the world, freely cavorting before our Father, and humbly allowing Him to work out all the details. He never fails to give us life when we are willing to receive it.
Mary has cherished life-long literary dreams coupled with a passion for ministry, all of which lead her to study English literature and later theology and counseling in seminary. She has been designing artisan jewelry for eight years while homeschooling son Ian and daughter Julianna. She and her husband Mark Miller have been in ministry for the past thirteen years in San Diego and temporarily moved to Washington with their cat Lord Peter Wimsey while Mark finalized his dissertation. Dr. Miller is now pursuing ministerial opportunities nation-wide. Mary enjoys off-the-wall humor, gardening, cooking, and curling up with anything penned by Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, or Jane Austen.