Friday, July 31, 2009

The Most Important Meal of the Day

By Erin Bunting

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what's the first thing you say to yourself?” “What's for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It's the same thing,” he said.
-- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

I admit I’m more like Piglet than Pooh -- not much of a breakfast eater, but eager to see “what’s going to happen exciting today.” For me, breakfast is a cup of coffee and maybe a handful of dry cereal before I get on with more pressing matters of the day. Sometimes I even skip the cereal.

And I know, I know, how important breakfast is. I’ve heard the mantra: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I’ve read about the studies proving that kids and adults who eat breakfast perform better in school and on the job. I know that a good breakfast staves off hunger, helps me focus, accomplish more and resist unhealthy temptations to overeat later in the day. I know!

But come on- preparing a real breakfast -- cooking actual hot food in the morning? That takes time. It takes effort. You have to get up early to do it. Think about that Proverbs 31 woman: “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family.” (Proverbs 31:15). Maybe a hearty breakfast was why her husband and kids were such happy over-achievers, but in today’s ready-to-eat, cereal-in-a-box, Pop Tart, protein-bar-on-the-way-out-the-door culture, that’s just crazy talk.

Maybe that’s also why it’s so extra special when someone cooks you breakfast -- because it’s such a tender, tangible act of care and kindness. Cooking breakfast means something. It’s love on a plate.

Jesus understood the importance of a good breakfast. He even cooked breakfast for His disciples, to fuel them for their upcoming work spreading the gospel. The story is found in John 21:12. The disciples had been fishing unsuccessfully all night and it was early morning. It was shortly after Jesus’ resurrection when He appeared on the shore and suggested they fish on the other side of the boat. They did, and pulled in a net bursting with fish. “Now,” Jesus shouted, “Come and have some breakfast!” By the time they hit the beach, Jesus had everything prepared. In fact, as verse 13 says He even “served them.” Jesus nourished his friends with a hearty breakfast of bread and fish.

You’ll notice He did not serve them the fish they caught themselves, but the fish He brought and cooked. Yes, they needed physical food, but they also required spiritual sustenance that only the Savior could provide. “When they had finished eating,” Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me?” In the course of the questioning, Jesus told Peter “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” “Feed my sheep,” and “Follow me!” (v. 15-19) Notice the sequence. First Jesus fed Peter -- nourished him physically and spiritually, and only when Peter “had finished eating” could he fulfill Jesus command to follow Him and share the Gospel of Christ with others.

Ministry, marriage, mothering, mentoring – all require tremendous physical and spiritual energy. Jesus, the Proverbs 31 woman, wives, mothers and all those nutritionists understand that nutritionally, a good breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Spiritually-speaking, it does the same thing. Jesus said “I am the bread of life, and he who believes in me will never go hungry.” (John 6:35) So even though I’m not big on bacon and eggs first thing in the morning, I try to always start my day feasting on the soul-satisfying “bread of life” which is God’s Word. Breakfast with Jesus sets the tone for the rest of my day and gives me the spiritual sustenance to complete whatever He gives me to do.

So whether you wake up like Pooh asking “What's for breakfast?” or like Piglet, asking “What's going to happen exciting today?” remember, it’s pretty much the same thing. Let the Bread of Life fill you and receive it as a tender, tangible act of care and kindness. Then follow Jesus, nourished and strengthened by His presence and His Holy Word -- love on a plate with no dishes to wash. Now that’s a miracle only Jesus could cook up!