It’s Monday evening. Between school pick-up and bedtime, you’ve got to get one kid to a soccer game, one to basketball tryouts, one to piano lessons, and yourself to the grocery store. There’s no time to make supper, so you order a pizza and pass out cheesy slices on paper towels.
It’s Friday night. Your husband tucks the kids into bed a little early so that the two of you can have a quiet meal by candlelight. You’ve made his favorites: tender steak cooked medium rare, cheesy duchess potatoes, and stuffed mushrooms. A chocolate pie with toasted meringue sits cooling on the counter.
It’s Sunday morning. Quiet music streams from a single guitar on stage at church. With bowed heads and repentant hearts, brothers and sisters in Christ take the bread, meant to symbolize Christ’s broken body and the juice, meant to symbolize His blood poured out.
All three moments involve food. Some seem fancy, others humdrum. Which brings me to a question to help you consider your everyday interactions with food: which of these moments is most important to God?
My reflex is to choose the one that seems most spiritual, the observance of the Lord’s Supper. It’s true that communion is important to Jesus. (It was His idea after all.) But I am learning an important thing about food and faith and how they intersect—God cares about all of it. Every bite is a missionary sent to point you to God’s abundant love and constant care.
A Better Pair of Food Rhythms
Most of us operate from a set of opposing rhythms when it comes to food. We:
- Love to eat but hate to eat.
- Love to cook but feel frustrated that we have to cook so often.
- Love the social benefits of food but feel pressure to create over-the-top meals before we can invite others over for dinner.
- Embrace food as a God-given gift but also feel a lot of shame about our food choices.
In recent years, this daily tug-of-war started to bother me. I questioned whether God would create me with a daily need for food and expect me to have such constant and conflicting emotions about it. Isn’t it great that the Christian life isn’t a guessing game? God has given us the blueprint for life according to His design right in His Word.
When I opened my Bible looking for insights on God’s plan for food, I found plenty to chew on:
- The fall of man involved forbidden fruit (Gen. 3).
- The Israelites grumbled in the wilderness for the garlic and leeks of Egypt (Num. 11:5).
- Jesus’s first miracle was changing water into wine (John 2:1-11).
- He fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish (Matt. 14:13-21).
- When He knew His death was near, Jesus gathered with His disciples for a meal (Luke 22:15).
- Part of what God used to reveal His plan to welcome Jews and Gentiles into the kingdom was a vision of animals descending from heaven followed by a voice saying, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat” (Acts 10:12).
- When the Spirit of God revealed to John what life in the new heaven will be like, He showcased a feast for the ages (Rev. 19).
Clearly, food matters to God, and as I dug into Scripture seeking fresh insights in how to approach this part of my life in a God-glorifying way, I discovered two rhythms—fasting and feasting.
Embracing Fasting and Feasting
Feasting seems like the easy part, doesn’t it? Every hilarious video of a baby face planting into his first birthday cake reveals we know how to indulge, but here’s the paradigm shift: feasting is part of God’s best for us.
The psalmist is who encouraged us to “taste and see that the LORD is good,” (Ps. 34:8), and when God gave His children instructions for promised land living, He outlined seven feasts to be observed each year (Lev. 23). What if you didn’t have to feel guilty every time you enjoyed a good meal? What if, instead, you chose gratitude and acknowledged that that perfect bowl of berries or that luxurious slice of chocolate cheesecake or even a cheeseburger that feels like summer in one bite was given to you by the One who gives only good gifts (Matt. 7:11)? It may sound elementary, but it’s a discipline I’d long forgotten; thanking God for our food helps keep food in its rightful place in our hearts.
The rhythm of fasting may feel less familiar, but it’s all over the Bible. Many of the prophets fasted, including Moses. Jesus fasted. So did His disciples. Though it’s never a mandate for us as New Testament followers of Jesus, it is a gift that many Christians simply leave unwrapped. For me, fasting has become a vital and delightful part of my Christian walk. I’ve learned that in many ways fasting is feasting. In turning down the volume on my stomach’s need for food, I’ve learned how to turn up the volume on the still, small voice of God. Though I still have lots of questions about fasting and how it works, one thing is settled in my heart: when God’s people fast and pray, things change. As I think about our broken world and how much of it we need God to mend, I have a growing burden to call God’s people to return to the biblical practice of fasting.
If you think about it, don’t fasting and feasting mirror how Scripture calls us to live out our faith in other areas of life? It’s true, the Christian life is a life of abundance, of gratitude, of God-given blessings pressed down and running over (Luke 6:38). But it is also a life of denial, of taking up our cross daily, of dying to self in order to more fully live for Christ.
A Lasting Kind of Freedom
After a lifetime of living with the jarring whiplash that comes with loving food and feeling controlled by it, I’m finally walking in freedom. It didn’t come through a food pyramid or calorie counting exercise but from realizing that God cares about my food and offers practical wisdom on how to approach it. Blueberries and coffee beans were His idea, and He doesn’t separate our life into the categories of “This Matters” and “This Doesn’t.” He made digestive tracts and dark chocolate and invites us to wrestle with this question: How can I use all of this to give God glory? From there, it’s just one short jump to realizing that food isn’t something I have to master but something I get to steward. From grocery bills to food choices to family gatherings, I’m learning that it’s possible to mix my daily food needs and experiences together in a recipe that produces nourishing results. This is the counter-cultural mystery that Scripture reveals—our whole lives are an opportunity to worship Jesus, including what we put on our plates.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Erin is a writer and teacher passionately committed to getting women of all ages to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, including Connected, 7 Feasts, and Fasting & Feasting. Erin serves as the content director for Revive Our Hearts and hosts the Women of the Bible podcast and Grounded videocast. Hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.