Everyone who’s read the Bible for more than 5 minutes has been confronted by some pretty disturbing, seemingly unfathomable stuff. Even after you deal with the most troublesome passages, there’s plenty to leave you scratching your head.
When I share an insight God has given me about a scripture, I’m not suggesting this is “the” meaning or interpretation. Good literature speaks to us on many different levels, and the Bible is that, and so much more. My interpretation often changes as new experiences bring the words to life.
One verse I puzzled over and asked God about for a long time was Ecclesiastes 11:1. It says:
Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.
When I first began wondering about it, we were in a lean time of in terms of material things. I hate waste, and the idea of throwing away something essential seemed wasteful to me. At that time, the verse was a call to generosity, even to the point of extravagance. This was an area where I needed to trust and be stretched.
A couple of weeks ago our family was celebrating the Biblical Feast of Trumpets. As part of their observance of this feast, some people fill their pockets with bread crumbs or small stones, go to a stream or river, and empty the contents of their pockets into the water. This is symbolic of purging sins. Our kids could throw rocks into the water all day, so we decided to take them to the lake and give it a try. My husband instructed each child to choose 3 rocks. We spent some time asking God to show us each three things we needed to forgive, lies we needed to be free of, or sins he wanted us to repent of. Then we took turns going to the end of the dock and throwing those rocks as far into the lake as we could. The idea was that we needed to release those things that were weighing us down. The kids actually took it pretty seriously. They were quiet as they threw their rocks, and then, in hushed voices, they told us what they represented. They seemed relieved to be rid of those things.
My turn was last. I chose the largest, smoothest stones I could find, like David loading his slingshot. As I prayed, God showed me people that I needed to forgive, and expectations I needed to let go of. My expectations were weighing us all down, and we couldn’t move forward until I got rid of them. I felt the cool weight in my pockets. As I threw that first rock and heard the “plop!” when it landed, I felt God saying, “This was feeding you”. I realized I had been “fed” by that unforgiveness and those expectations, in the sense that they gave me power. I took comfort in them. But there was no real satisfaction in that.
The idea of casting my bread on the water took on new meaning that night. Sometimes, what “feeds” me is actually just weighing me down. I need to cast it aside and seek real nourishment. It may take many days of searching, but I am not satisfied with counterfeit “bread” anymore.
How about you? What “fed” you, and then weighed you down? What do you need to cast aside? Where have you found real freedom and sustenance?