Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live. (Isaiah 55:1-3)
You think you've eaten a lot of fast-food in your life?
Wheeled into McDonald's on a busy day more times than you care to count?
Figure you've eaten enough Whoppers or Big Macs to circle your house a time or two?
Brother, sister, let me tell you: you don't know what eating a lot of fast-food is.
Don Gorske knows. On a recent Monday, surrounded by spectators and reporters, he ate his 20,000th Big Mac in his hometown of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Don has been eating Big Macs since 1972, which means that, if I've done my math correctly, he's eaten the sandwiches since then at a rate of nearly two a day. He's in the Guinness Book of World Records. (Who knew they had a category for Big Mac-eating?) He's eaten a Big Mac, he says, in every state in the union.
And I know what you're thinking, but that's the really amazing thing about this. At six feet tall, Don weighs 170 pounds.
That's pretty unusual. Most of the time, if you eat 20,000 Big Macs in 32 years, you're going to be ... well ... you're going to look like you've eaten 20,000 Big Macs in 32 years. I don't know what condition his arteries are in, but thus far Don's unusual habit doesn't seem to be causing him any health problems. And while he might be better off if he switched to salads or something, if he can continue to fire down a Big Mac or two a day and get away with it, more power to him.
But, Don's got me thinking that some people live their lives in a perpetual quest for the equivalent of fast-food. All of us, maybe, have this tendency to chase all the things that promise to satisfy quickly and easily. Human beings habitually scarf down what amounts to junk food for our spirits, unaware that though we may feel temporarily satisfied we're not really being nourished. And while Don may be doing OK on his steady diet of Big Macs, there is no way that we're going to thrive the way we were intended to on a steady diet of fast-food for the spirit.
Oh, that kind of food's easy to find — a lot like a Big Mac. It's there on your coffee table within easy grasp, looking remarkably like a TV remote. Flip it on, sit down at the table, and stuff yourself with junk food for the soul. It's there at movie theaters, bookstores, and on-line. Pornography, hot off the griddle. Mindless magazine layouts on the home decor or parenting philosophy or political opinions or romantic lives of this or that celebrity. It's there at the mall, where models and mannequins and smiling salespeople entice us into believing that this shirt or that gadget or those shoes or that underwear will transform us into the people we secretly want to be. It's there in doctor's offices, where we're told that a new nose or larger breasts or smaller hips or fewer wrinkles will change our lives.
Some people go to a bottle looking to be filled. Some go to a needle, or a pipe. Some go to food. Some go from romance to romance. Some live for the weekends. Some get involved in causes. It's hard to know, sometimes, when you're filling yourself with spiritual junk food. Sometimes it's obvious. Some of the things we try to fill ourselves with are illicit, immoral, and/or illegal. Some seem perfectly acceptable. But the common denominator is the human tendency to try to replace the food God offers us with other stuff. We've been doing it since Eden, and the consequences are always the same. Paradise lost.
How do we get all that?
You see it, don't you? One little word: "listen." "Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-sustaining words." (Isaiah 55:2-3, The Message) "I am the bread of life," promised Jesus. "He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)
True nourishment, true satisfaction, is to be found only in God through Jesus. Nothing else will feed your spirit and sustain your life beyond the boundaries of this world. Isaiah's question still speaks to us, doesn't it: Why do we waste so much time, energy, and money stuffing our hungry souls with junk when God offers us a feast? When the cross invites us to take our seats at God's table and eat our fill? In prayer, in worship, with other people who are learning what nourishment really is, around open Bibles and inhabited by the Holy Spirit, let's accept God's gracious invitation to "delight in the richest of fare".
Not another day. We've already had more junk food than anyone should. Put down the Big Mac and find your way into God's dining room.