…it matters where you shop…

When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” (Genesis 42:1, 2 ESV)

I was unable to move very far past the opening two verses of this chapter after it became apparent to me how important they were.

Logic is not first a scientific, mathematical, or technical matter, it is first a matter of unforgiving practicality. If we find that every time we fall a great distance our body is injured then the logical deduction, the thing that makes sense, is that we want to avoid long falls unless the reason for the fall is of greater worth than the consequence of the fall itself. This is not hard to understand, but it seems that it can be a challenge for us none-the-less.

In these two, somewhat casual, verses Jacob tells his sons something very simple: go get food where there is food to be gotten. This is a remarkably simple idea, and yet the verses indicate that this was a problem for the sons of Israel. They were “looking at each other” like they didn’t know what to do with the information that Egypt had food. Simple logic and deduction would guide and inform any normal human being here, but these are not “normal human beings”, and to be quite honest we are not “normal human beings”.

The problem with logic is that it fails to take into account the “abnormal” parts of our humanity, namely our fallen natures created by sin. So whereas a “normal” person would look at the situation and say, “of course I’m going to Egypt, they have food and I need food”, the “abnormal” person comes up with any number of reasons why this either shouldn’t or won’t work. We allow things like pride, fear, sloth, and distrust to creep into our reasoning process and rob us of the answers that make the most sense.

Go get food where there is food to be gotten. This statement doesn’t sound complex, but how many of us will ignore the things that actually bring the longings of our hearts nourishment? How many of us will ignore the words of God in the Books that we are so proud to own but so apt to put aside? How many of us will see the rain today as an inconvenience instead of a glorious picture of God’s grace? How many of us will always find “one more thing to do” when our hearts are longing to connect to our Creator through sacred conversation? How many of us will take a walk not as an aggressive war against soft bulges, but for the joy of peace that comes from quiet contemplation?

I do not believe that lack of hunger is the greatest issue facing our generation of Christ followers. We long for things deeper and more spiritual, we yearn for supernatural encounters with the Ghost of God, but we are apt to search in places for these things that absolutely do not contain them. If there is no food in a place it stands to reason that no one will leave there with a full belly. Where we go to find nourishment, as Jacob told his boys, is logically a matter of life and death.

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
That is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings,
What you will do with your evenings,
How you spend your weekends,
What you read,
Who you know,
What breaks your heart,
And what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
– Pedro Arrupe

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