The dove, the waters, and the solid ground

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11

I talked to a Christian guy recently who was nervous that God might be mad at him. It’s an understandable enough sentiment, but from a rational perspective, it’s odd. It’s like fearing you might fail a math test after you’ve already received your diploma, or fearing you might be burned by a fire that has already been extinguished. Christians have little reason to fear the thing from which they’ve already been saved. It reminded me of something that happens at Jesus’ baptism.

At the baptism of Jesus, a dove descends and lands on Jesus as he arises out of the waters. I’m wondering if we’re talking about something that was visually bird-like or if it was like a dove in its peaceful nature? Regardless, Matthew and Mark say that Jesus saw something like a dove. Luke states, from a narrator’s third-person perspective, that it was a dove in bodily form. John records it from the mouth of John the Baptist, who says he saw something like a dove.

The first place a dove appears in the Bible is in the story of Noah. God sends floodwaters to eradicate a corrupt and violent human species, saving only Noah, his family, and a boat-load of animals. After 40 days of floating, Noah sends out a dove. Eventually, it returns with an olive branch, signifying that it had found solid ground.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that in both stories a dove goes out and finds solid ground amidst waters sent to wash away sinfulness.

The baptismal waters of the River Jordan, like the floodwaters of the ancient flood epic, were there to wash away sins. The floodwaters were sent to destroy the evil of humankind. The baptismal waters captured symbolically the washing away of sin.

We, as a species and as individuals, deserve the punishment of the flood. We have lived corrupt lives, or conspired to do so, and we cannot by our own merit survive. Only when God provided solid ground could Noah endure the flood. At the baptism of Jesus, the dove again settles on the solid ground, which is Jesus Christ. He is the only thing on which we can stand in the midst of the waters that have been sent for the sinful. If we try to stand on our own goodness, we are standing on sinking sand.

When the dove, the Holy Spirit, comes to us today, it is to call us to return to the only solid ground on which we can stand – to Jesus. When we believe he died for us, we are spared the punishment of the flood. There is no longer anything for which we can be held accountable, because his death consumed our sin. We ourselves arise out of baptismal waters to stand on him.

Without solid ground, we have every reason to fear we will be rowing forever. But once you believe in him, there’s nothing left of which to be afraid.


Can’t Buy Me Love

It’s been said that addiction is an increasing thirst for a decreasing satisfaction. It turns out that when we equate wealth with happiness, we may be on course for addiction in that sense.

A typical mindset among we who spend our lifetimes in or seeking gainful employment operate under a host of tacit assumptions, some of which are correct, some of which are partially so, and some of which are just dead wrong. The problem is that no alarm bell goes off when our brains wander from the former into the latter. When we’re getting things wrong – like say, our expectations for what will make us happy – we still feel like we’re probably right.

Our expectations for what will make us happy are significantly wrong.

That’s not just speculation. The social sciences are now doing quantifiable research on human satisfaction, a relatively new field of serious study within psychology that has popped up over the last 20 years. Laurie Santos at Yale has a class (available for free on Coursera) entitled “The Science of Well-Being,” and Tal Ben-Shahar at Harvard teaches “The Science of Happiness.” Also at Harvard, Dan Gilbert, professor of psychology, has published “Stumbling on Happiness,” which chronicles the brain’s missteps into “miswanting,” the act of wanting the wrong things.

When it comes to money, and wanting it, and predicting how happy it will make us, we are way off. A study done of people making on average $30,000 per year were asked how much they would need to make to satisfy them, to end their financial stresses, and they said, on average, $50,000. When the same question was asked of people making $100,000, on average, they said $250,000 (Lyubomirsky, 2008). To quantify it, researches deduced that on average, for every $1 more we make per year, we’re going to expect we need $1.40 more than that. In fact, the stronger the goal of financial success, the lower the satisfaction with relationships, and satisfaction with relationships is one of the greatest predictors of overall happiness (“Zeroing In on the Dark Side of the American Dream,” Nickerson, et. al.). Increasing desire; decreasing satisfaction.

What is true of parts is true of the whole as well. Studies have shown that for all of the advances in technology, wealth, and overall life circumstances in America since the 1950s, it “has not been accompanied by one iota of increased subjective well-being” (“The American Paradox,” Meyers).

It shouldn’t be surprising that this newfound science of the Spirit – because it is, ultimately, a study of the human soul – simply validates what the Bible has always said. Ecclesiastes states, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Jesus would later ask, “What does it profit a person to gain the world but to lose their soul?” And a band of British prophets once declared, “Money can’t buy me love!” More importantly, it is love, not money, that most contributes to our happiness, according to an 80-year long longitudinal study at Harvard.

Unfortunately, there is a large swath of the American public, and probably the world, who are wholeheartedly handing over their souls in pursuit of the miswanting of money.

It gets worse.

A Canadian study of the next-door neighbors of lottery winners showed that they neighbors were unusually likely to go bankrupt, and the larger the lottery prize, the larger the likelihood. When the lottery included the award of a car, the next-door neighbors were unusually more likely to buy a new car as well. Happiness is, unfortunately, relative to whatever we are comparing ourselves. One survey even showed that a majority of people would prefer a lower salary at a company where everyone was making less than them than a higher salary at a company where everyone was making more than them. The wanting here is correct – it’s the comparison, not the dollar amount, that is most likely to lend itself to happiness.

So a few solid facts about money and happiness:

  1. The strong pursuit of it can make us less happy.
  2. After a certain income (on average $75,000 in the US), the degree to which our happiness increases with our income levels off considerably.
  3. People who give money to charity or spend money on others report higher levels of happiness. Not only that, but for adults age 50 and older, those who spend at least 4 ours per week in community service are 40% less likely to have high blood pressure than their peers who do not.
  4. Money is not completely unrelated to happiness, but the stance we take towards it and the way we use it are far more determinant of how happy it makes us than is how much we have.

This has made me spend a good deal of time thinking about what I really want. How about you?

Rebuilding Happiness

“Happiness then, is found to be something perfect and self sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed.”

– Aristotle, Ethics

Of all the things we lost in 2020, the most devastating was our day-to-day happiness. We lost not only the apathetic normalcy of suburban America, but the stabilizing calm of a world that has a chance for a peaceful tomorrow when today was kind of lousy. There was no clear hope for that tomorrow – no one knew when tomorrow would roll around.

It looks like tomorrow may come in a big way in April, 2021. As vaccines distribute worldwide and the number of recoveries increases by the day, we inch closer to a herd immunity and public sentiment that will pave the way to public life. As we forge ahead in that direction, I am thinking about rebuilding not just routines and freedoms, but happiness. And by this, I mean the opposite of normal. Normal is the baseline against which happy is measured. If normal is ground level, happiness is a mountaintop. I’m not going back to normal. I’m going to chase happiness.

Fortunately for me, two things are at play. Scientific studies on the sources of happiness (and its obstacles) have for the last decade emerged as a legitimate field of study in psychology. Quantifiable research is being done on what makes us happy and why. Secondly, this is the iGeneration. All those studies are available everywhere and all the time. Knowledge from now on is going to spread like laughter. It will not only be available, it will be contagious.

So the Bible verse around which I will revolve in 2021 is a teaching of Jesus in John 10:10, the second half of the verse: “I have come to give you life to the full.” Some translations follow Jerome’s Latin translation from the 4th century, when he used abundantias: “abundant life.” The Greek adverb here is “perisson.” It has the sense of exceeding the need to be measured and way more than necessary. The Bible uses it to refer to how much God can do (like, you know, a ton), and how much more than a prophet Jesus actually is (picture your Christian summer camp counselor trying to explain this with her arms over her head – like way, way more, you guys).

There are even some things we can do to increase our happiness. We can actually track what is shaping our half-empty-half-full mindset and tilt ourselves in the direction of living the life that Jesus promises.

The first is to pay attention to what actually causes happiness (your intuitions are wrong on this one). Martin Seligman, who holds a PhD from U. Penn in psychology, has named five. I’m changing his terminology, but here are the ideas:

  1. Positivity – the ability to focus on hope and thankfulness
  2. Passion – finding something in which you love to lose yourself, your calling
  3. People – happiness is inextricably tied to loving relationships
  4. Purpose – discovering that your life is part of something greater
  5. Progress – the ability to set reasonable goals and chase after them

I’m going to explore each of those in posts to come. There’s no reason why 2021 has to be a festering of wounds, when it can be a rebuilding of the human heart according to the blueprints of the creator. For my part, I’m not going back to normal. I’m going to chase after abundant life.

My Bug Zapper

First published in Adelaide Literary Journal.

“In my backyard, there are fruit mice that come out at night, devious, and peel my oranges. In the morning it looks like a herd of suburban moms have come through for mimosas and left their shavings. It’s so disrespectful. I am a maid for mice. I clean up after them and let them have at my oranges again the next night.

            I saw a possum come through. He ran off hurriedly when I shined my cell phone flashlight on him….”

Read the rest here.

Just Life

When, in autumn, the wind blows leaves off the trees, the wind holds no malice. It’s just being the wind.

When in loss, we look for reasons and explanations, cause and effect, but, in fact, life is just being life. There is no algorithm for the finite. It just is.

Like a leaf.

Grace and Alexa

Jim Miller

There were two twin girls, identical in every respect, Grace and Alexa. They grew up together, played together, wore the same clothes and put their hair in the same ponytails. They made up their own language that they shared between them.

One day a terrible thing happened. There was a tumultuous storm at night and the roof of their house caved in. Remarkably, both girls were saved, but both were changed. Grace saw her salvation entirely as the work of a gracious God who protected her. Alexa, who managed to throw herself under a table when it happened, believed she had saved herself. Neither was ever the same, nor were they alike anymore.

They looked the same, they dressed the same, they wore their hair the same. Grace lived with trust and confidence that she was watched over by God. Alexa did a lot of reading about architecture and how the house was supposed to be designed or retrofitted.

They were both accepted to the local university and excelled, graduated with honors, both of them. Grace majored in literature. Alexa majored in, well, architecture, actually. Both applied for jobs at the university and were hired. They taught together, a cute novelty of the school, the twin genius professor sisters.

They looked the same, they dressed the same, they wore their hair the same way. But they were not the same, and the students knew it.

Grace loved her students, laughed with them, encouraged them, and was known for being an easy grader, and for staying up late tutoring study groups who had fallen behind. Alexa was stern. Her gaze was piercing. Her classes were hard. Few students got A’s from her. They learned a lot, but at a high cost. Only the strong survived, and the weak were weeded out through the natural selection of her red pen.

The funny thing was, when one of them turned a corner, the students weren’t sure which one they were about to encounter. They bristled and sat up straight, for fear that it was the architecture professor, but they looked with hope that they were going to get to see their beloved literature professor.

They looked the same, they dressed the same, they wore their hair the same. But when they got close to you, you could tell who you was who. Because the architecture professor never looked at you with anything more than a cold, evaluative glare. The literature professor always looked at you with a gleam in her eye, and you knew, for some underserved reason, you were loved.

The Science Delusion

The commonsense view of a scientist is the fictional assumption that she sits in her lab studying matter through her microscope, wholeheartedly and virtuously wed to a pursuit of truth, humble enough to admit where she is wrong and to follow the data wherever it should lead, wanting only, in the end, to benefit humanity.


Who put together this PR campaign? Clearly, such a flawless depiction of a hero has to be an accretion of legendary stuff and myth-making. When I see depictions of medieval saints that look like this, I assume a relatively good amount of sweeping under the carpet happened long ago and the facts of history have been lost in the sands of time. For a reputation to be so pristine and so pure, it looks manufactured.

Here’s the real life of a scientist:

She is sitting in a lab that is being funded by someone else, someone with partisan interests tied specifically to making money. That group of people is standing next to the scientist, watching her work and putting a stream of money into her left pocket.

On the other side of her stands a person taking money out of her right pocket. Retailers take it, government takes it, family and friends take it. She has a passionate interest in keeping that river flowing, and that outflow is directly dependent on the inflow.

Over her left shoulder stands a crowd of people who are applauding for her. When she succeeds, makes money, gets published, and gets promoted, they cheer. Over the other shoulder is a group of people booing her. They point out her flaws and hold her up to expectations. People she knows switch back and forth between the two groups. This includes her spouse, children, parents (or their ghosts), employers, employees, peers, the public, and even her own conscience.

On the wall of her lab is a clock, but not a normal one. It is a countdown clock. It ticks down towards her own death, her retirement, her chances for advancement, towards the graduation of her children, towards the due date of the next utility bill. There’s a countdown for the time that she is due to publish her results, and that countdown is tied to a spigot that turns off the money flow into her pocket. That pressure never goes away. In fact, if she is, say, researching a crisis during the crisis, that countdown is shorter than is necessary to actually do circumspect work.

The microscope through which she is looking is cracked, that microscope being her own mind, which, through a series of evolutionary tricks, is riddled with cognitive biases. She (as with everyone) is more likely to believe what a vast majority believes, more likely to believe what is negative, more likely to choose her beliefs from a range of options that are available and proximate to her, more likely to believe that which confirms the things she is already committed to, and more likely to believe causation where she is actually only seeing correlation. The best magic trick ever performed was when the human brain evolved to assume its own power to distinguish between what seems right and what is right in front of it.

Undergirding her empirical work are two systems that do not answer to her empirical work – ethics and logic. Science does not create reason; it presumes it and depends on it. Where a person is not logical, or fails to be logical, empirical methods follow the leader. Likewise, science does not create ethics. Science alone cannot morally rule that a humanitarian researcher is doing what is right while a self-interested scientist is doing what is wrong. In fact, science as presented in its idealized form depends on a commitment to several moral virtues – humility, open-mindedness, honesty, and the like – none of which are created by scientific investigation. She walked into the lab with her ethics and sense of reason already in place, and they affect what she can do in the lab.

There are two other labs on the same street that are competing with her work. If the other two agree against her work, she is branded as an outlier who perhaps hasn’t done good research, and her work is branded with “most scientists feel otherwise.” If her work shows something normal and unremarkable, often her work is never even published. If the lab down the street comes out with something newsworthy, their money spigot is turned up higher, and hers is turned down. No one is rewarded for saying, “We just don’t know.”

“Hold on!” she protests, looking up for her work, thinking I’ve slipped into the booing crowd. “My work is peer reviewed.” It is, by a group of people who fall into all the same categories of the description I’ve named above.

Just a few notes from history: Isaac Newton was mocked as an occultist by other scientists when he said that objects could exert force on each other without touching each other; scientists believed in an “aether,” a substance that filled all space between objects, from Aristotle till Einstein; some scientists leapt to advocate for Piltdown Man as a missing link before it was shown to be a hoax; and many cosmologists now posit the existence of dark matter, a hypothesis for which there is absolutely no evidence, but which is required unless we’re willing to admit that we’ve been wrong about either gravity or inertia. I’ve heard a prominent scientist recently suggest that he believes in multiple universes, an idea that is borrowed from philosophy and which was created as a thought experiment, not as a description of reality. A lot of scientific peers agreed to all this at one time or another.

So what I mean to suggest is not that the empirical method of hypothesis, testing, observation, and conclusions doesn’t work. I only mean to suggest that science done with zeal and speed is far more prone to error than the Norman Rockwell painting of the scientist most of us carry around in our minds would let on. What’s the take-away? Stop telling me, “Well, science says….”

Is God Doing This?

An Edgy Question

crucifix.jpgI want to ask the question that is in the back of the minds of a lot of religious adherents right now, and perhaps even in the mind of a few skeptics. Are the terrible things that are happening in the world right now a direct activity of God?

Australia was just ravaged by fires, which destroyed over 32,000 square miles and over 1000 homes, and killed a couple dozen people and millions of animals. Immediately on its heels, locusts plague Africa and the Middle East – I mean like biblical quantities of locusts. Look it up. The story has been buried behind the coronavirus, which has now claimed 9,000 lives with a frightening mortality rate and brought the earth to a grinding halt.


To top it all off, there was an 5.7 earthquake in Salt Lake City, Utah on March 18th, which normally might not raise eyebrows, but this one knocked the trumpet out of the hand of the gold statue of Angel Moroni standing atop the spire of the pompous Mormon Temple in the heart of their homeland. Even without all the rest of today’s chaos, that one would certainly make the orthodox zealots call out to the heavens, “Nice one, Lord!”

So the question is a bit surprisingly a rational one – is God mad at us?

Surprising at least for those raised on a Western, naturalistic view of the world, a “scientific worldview” we call it, although by that we mean committed to presuppositions which empirical science cannot substantiate. That is – we assume there’s nothing supernatural, so science can only give natural explanations.

The problem, Science, is that most of us, most of humanity, believes in God. Not only that, many gods, angels, demons, an afterlife, miracles, ghosts, and all the rest of it. Most – a majority – of all humanity present and past. Scientists even now speculate that some part of evolutionary history wired us to be religious, even if there were no God out there to be religious about. But whether there is a God is a subject of another post. Here I want to ask, for those who do believe in God, is God actually, you know, doing this?

Some religious people, those with especially guilty consciences, assume that when something bad happens to them, it’s because of something they did. Karma is essentially the same idea. But the disasters befalling the world are too broad for even the worst narcissist to assume they’re causing it all.

So is it because of us, all of us? And do we have the power to change world events through our behavior, through repentance?

It Has Happened Before

Clearly, readers of the Bible can see, this jibes with what the Bible says God has done in the past.

God says to King Solomon in 2nd Chronicles 7:

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Repeatedly God forewarns of doom for disobedience and reward for faithfulness. When Israel is taken into slavery in Babylon, they say it was because King Solomon wasn’t faithful. When Jesus’ disciples come across a man born blind, they ask Jesus, “Is it because he sinned or his parents sinned that he was born this way?” (John 9:2). In the book of Revelation, God even warns rejection of churches that are not faithful, because God disciplines the people he loves (Revelation 3:14-20).

Two Options

However, Jesus’ answer to his disciples about the man born blind is that his blindness is not a result of anyone’s sin. His blindness is an opportunity for God’s power to be shown through him. Likewise, in the book of Job, a man named Job loses everything – his family, his wealth, and his health. His friends gather around and tell him he must have sinned. God shows up at the end of the narrative and vindicates Job – in fact, he hadn’t done anything wrong.

So Answer #1: Bad things are not always tied to God’s punishment. There’s a biblical basis for saying this. Furthermore, those who believe in Jesus believe that he died on the cross for our sins, so we are now completely forgiven. There is no anger left for us, and God does not destroy his children as punishment. Jesus aims to shape us in to healthy, loving, faithful people; he did not come to condemn us (John 3:17).

But, Answer #2: The terrors of this world are in every way a tool in the hands of God to lead the world to repentance. However, rather than causing suffering willfully, I think the Bible suggests that they come about in another way. Romans 1 says that God’s worst punishment for us is to let us have our own way (Romans 1:21-24). He “hands us over to our lusts,” it says. Allowing us to live in a broken world without his intervention is its own punishment. We live in a horribly broken world, and as we reject God and push God away, we can hardly complain that he allowed bad things to happen. He’s literally done exactly what we asked for. The consequence, sadly, is a world that doesn’t look like heaven. The hard part for those who follow Jesus is that we are all in this together, and the brokenness of the world drags us all down.

Our Hope

There are three places in which to put our hope:

  1. If you choose to invite Jesus into your life, he will immediately begin a remodel that will turn something broken into something beautiful. You can do that through a simple prayer – Jesus, I invite you in. Please take my life, forgive me, and lead me.
  2. When we follow Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we get to witness miracles. Jesus empowers his followers in the world to do exactly the same kind of things that he did, and that brings people out of brokenness and into healthy life. Against the backdrop of a world of storm clouds, a light shines through in the lives of the faithful.
  3. There will come a day when this present darkness will be chased away by light, and we will enter a world where there is no more mourning or crying or pain, and every tear will be wiped away (Revelation 21:4). Until then, we work to build the kingdom of God on earth; on that day we will rest.

Don’t be afraid. Jesus is still on the throne. When you believe in him and follow after him, he will save you. He’s not out to punish you and he doesn’t hold grudges. His business is forgiveness and redemption. Whatever origin story we believe in about the catastrophes of the world and the coronavirus, let them sharpen our minds and point us towards the one in whom we find true hope: Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The Viral Blessings Challenge

We’re going to change the world this week with a little challenge.

chris-de-tempe-6Tl5Kl7JEQg-unsplash.jpgUp and Down.

When I ride roller coasters with my kids, I grab hold of the handle bars, make a face like someone who is having dental surgery, and hold my breath until it’s over. My kids throw their hands up in the air, laugh, and scream about how they think my seatbelt is coming loose. We don’t ride the same way.

As our society does somersaults this season, there are two different ways to handle it.

Some are holding on tight. They’ve raided Costco and stocked up unnecessary tissue. They have dozens of water bottles, though their sinks work fine. They’ve dumped stocks and they’ve stopped spending, clinging to every dollar.

Personally, this week, if I have to go to a grocery store for essentials, I’ll try a new spiritual discipline. I won’t shop for myself. I’m going to buy the gift cards that they often sell near the registers, and fill them with small amounts of money. Then, after the employees at the registers hand them to me, I’m going to give them back to the employees as a gift and thank them for what they do. I’m going to tell them that Jesus is watching over them. These are people who are serving as modern day caregivers tending to the people who are afraid of the roller coasters. You can do the same.

It’s the “Viral Blessings Challenge.” Pay attention to public health announcements and don’t go out into public spaces when you don’t have to. It’s best to wait this thing out, but when we do encounter one another, let’s fill those encounters with grace. If you have a blessing-filled encounter with someone, send me the story at jim @

An Open-Handed Life

Jesus changes everything about the way you approach the season of sickness and anxiety.

With Jesus, I approach life with open hands. He will provide me whatever I need, and I don’t have to cling to anything. I can throw my hands up as we roll over these hills. It may not be filled with the same fun-filled laughter you’d hear at an amusement park, but it’s filled with freedom. I don’t have to worry about life, or what I will eat, or what I will wear, because my Father in heaven knows what I need. I’m not hoarding anything.

With Jesus, I approach death with open hands. I assure you, I’m going to die some day – there’s nothing to wonder about there. But whereas some people have to approach that reality like it’s a cliff they are jumping off blind, I approach it knowing that there is a huge party waiting for me on the other side of that door. I don’t have to cling to life, because what’s in store for me will be even better.

A Prayer

If your recent days have been filled with anxiety, here’s a simple little prayer you can pray. Say it by yourself or with your family. Say it out loud if you want.

Jesus, I’ve done life on my terms instead of yours. I’ve clung to things out of fear, and I’ve lived for myself.

I don’t want to be filled with anxiety anymore. Protect me from temptation and keep me away from evil.

I give my life to you with open hands, and I trust you to take care of me. Forgive me and start me on a new path.

Now teach me how you want me to live.

If you’d like me to pray with you and for you, or if you want to talk about Jesus, send me an email at jim @

The coming days may still be a roller coaster. That’s not something you can control. But you do have complete control over how you ride.




Some of us, as of this week, now face a moral dilemma.


Temptation and Fall

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The temptation that caused the fall of humanity in the Jewish narrative came in the form of unnecessary food. They already had all they needed. But this food promised to allow them to sort out right and wrong for themselves, to create their own system of weights and measures, so they no longer had to depend on God to provide for them.

Daily Bread

As the Israelites marched through the desert, away from Egyptian slave-drivers and towards a homeland, the tension between God and his people was again food.

“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.”

God proved again that he could provide for them exactly what they needed, supernaturally. Bread fell from the sky. They called in “Manna,” which meant, “What is this stuff?” They were told to collect each morning only enough for the day. If the Israelites took more than what they needed for a day, it would rot. They didn’t have to store up. In this way, God called them back into dependence and rewarded them with providence.

The Bread of Life

Jesus draws on the lessons of his heritage. He says things like:

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink.

Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

He teaches his disciples to pray:

Give us this day our daily bread.

And he says of himself:

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never go hungry.

It is perhaps more than coincidence that his birthplace, Bethlehem, is a Hebrew word that means “House of Bread.”

The most natural, healthy relationship between God and humanity is when we are dependent every day for our basic needs, and we live without fear that a good Father will provide for us when we ask him.

Hoarding and Sharing

Instead, in crisis, we stockpile food that we don’t need, escalating anxiety and tension in our communities. That leads us to the moral dilemma.

If you have taken more resources than you need this last week, in fear not only of a virus which is not particularly remarkable, but also in anticipation of the fear of your neighbors, you now have a moral imperative. This is from the Lord, not me.

If you over-bought this week, take food to your neighbors. Give it to them and say, “I’m trying an experiment here. I’m giving this to you to see if Jesus will take care of me.” What will happen is that you will experience the relief of knowing that a good and powerful God watches over you. You will be set free from a spirit of fear. You’ll experience the joy of providing for others. You’ll make new friends. You’ll live a story that will be worth telling.

The other choice is to continue running with the herd, and exposing sins of which we will have to repent in the next generation.

The choices here are between faith and fear, panic and peace.

Try Jesus. He’ll give you what you need.