THE BREAD OF LIFE
Hearing the voice of God doesn't mean that you have been handed a one-way ticket to heaven. It only means that you have taken the first step on the road of faith that is going to be rough and crooked and up and down. Hearing the voice of God for the first time often brings confusion and conviction.
It also brings doubt. I guess the first reaction as I faced the new day was, "Did this really happen to me?" Perhaps I dreamed it, or maybe it was just a wild thought that floated through my imagination. I just couldn't acknowledge the words that I had heard as my words. They didn't say what I would say. They were contrary to what I believed.
I thought about God all day and said the words over and over to myself, puzzling over the fact that He wanted to "come unto me." There was a sense of unreality throughout the entire day. It was as though I had been taken back in time. I tried to relate the knowledge that God had spoken to me to the experiences others had in the past. I knew that the Lord had spoken to people in the Old Testament, but I couldn't recall ever hearing of any modern day communication from Him. As far as I knew, God had stopped talking to anyone.
In the afternoon I put up the ironing board in the bedroom, and as I ironed, I continued to go over in my mind what had happened to me. And then clearly I again heard the voice of God, "Eat of the Bread of Life."
Strange words to hear as I was doing the ironing. Words of mystery spoken in a gentle voice, "Eat of the Bread of Life."
What was the Bread of Life? I had no idea.
"What are You saying to me, God?" I asked. "I don't understand what You're trying to tell me." Confusion closed in upon me. Could I be losing my mind? People who hear voices are locked up in mental hospitals. What was happening to me?
Suddenly there was a strong urge within me. There were no words, just the sudden need to find a Bible. I quickly left the ironing board and went into the kitchen to get a flashlight. For our fifth anniversary thirteen years before, Jack's mother had sent us a Bible. It was up in the attic still in the box, unopened except to read the inscription on the flyleaf. I rushed into the attic and began a frantic search through boxes and cartons looking for the Bible which had become terribly important to locate.
And then, there it was in the bottom of a box way back in the corner of the attic. I spent the rest of the afternoon looking through it, trying to find something about the Bread of Life. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I didn't even know for sure that those words were in the Bible, but I had a feeling that what I was searching for could be found in this black leather book.
All evening long I continued to look through the pages of the Bible looking for the key to God's reason for speaking to me. Page by page I continued my search. I felt somehow that my answer was in the New Testament, perhaps in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Hours passed as I skimmed over the many chapters. Jack went to bed and still I continued to turn the pages one by one.
And then I saw it leaping up at me from the page. In John 6:35 I read these words, "Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of Life: he that comes to Me shall never hunger and he that believes on Me shall never thirst."
My heart beat wildly within me. God had confirmed His word. The words spoken to me were right there in the Bible. Words unknown to me, with no meaning to me, were contained in the sacred pages of His word.
It was true! It was real! God had actually spoken to me! I knew now without a doubt that I had heard the voice of God. God was alive! He was real! God had spoken to me!
I knew how excited Jack would be, so I ran into the bedroom shouting, "Jack, wake up! You're never going to believe this. Look at this in the Bible."
I turned on the light and handed him his glasses. Jack rolled over and looked at the words I was pointing out in the Bible. "Uh-huh," he muttered and closed his eyes again.
"Honey, look at this!" I pleaded. "You see it really was God speaking to me. Look what it says right here. "Jesus said, I am the Bread of Life." God was talking to me about Jesus. Can't you see? It's all real. God really did speak to me. Isn't it wonderful?"
But Jack had already gone back to sleep.
I put on my pajamas and got into bed, but I didn't sleep. My heart was filled to overflowing. I was awed by the revelation that God still spoke to people and that He had spoken to me. The unbelievable had become believable. I finally drifted off to sleep talking to the Lord, saying over and over, "Thank You, God. Thank You, God."
The following day, joy welled up in my heart. I felt like I was walking ten feet off the ground. I read John chapter six over and over trying to find out what Jesus meant when He said that He was the Bread of Life. What He was trying to convey escaped me entirely and frustration began to set in. There was no doubt that I needed some help in my search for understanding, but where could I find it?
Then I had an idea. Perhaps somewhere on Sunday morning a sermon was going to be preached on this passage and I could go to the church to hear it. So I spread out the local newspaper before me and skimmed the advertisements on the religious page seeking a clue somewhere. There was nothing about the Bread of Life that I could see. Where did one go to learn about this bread?
Suddenly I saw it! The name of the minister at the Methodist church in town was named Reverend Baker. Of course. If you wanted to know about bread, you would ask a baker.
On an impulse, I went to the phone and dialed the number listed beside his name. "Lord," I prayed, "if you want me to talk to this minister, please have him answer the phone."
The phone rang three times and then came the answer, "First Methodist Church. Reverend Baker speaking."
I took a deep breath and plunged in. "You don't know me, but I have a very important question and I need to have the answer. I thought perhaps you could help me."
Reverend Baker didn't even ask my name, but merely replied, "I'll certainly do what I can. What's the question?"
My heart was pounding within me. "What did Jesus mean when He said, I am the Bread of Life?"
There was a pause before the answer came. "Jesus was saying that He is the spiritual food that every man must have if his spirit is to grow in wisdom and truth."
A light went on in my being! Illumination shone forth in the darkness of my soul. Of course, it was all so clear now. Without food my body would become weak, undernourished and eventually it would die. I had to eat to stay alive and healthy.
Spiritually it was the same principle. My spirit could not grow and live without spiritual food. Jesus was the food God had provided for my spirit to feed upon. Without Jesus I could not have spiritual life.
I nearly shouted into the phone. "Oh, thank you. That's just the right answer I needed to hear. I can never tell you how much this means to me."
Reverend Baker answered simply, "I'm glad I could be of help. If you have any more questions, be sure to call me again."
I hung up the phone and sent up a prayer of thanksgiving to God. "Thank You, Lord. Thank You so very much."
I had my answer. Jesus was the Bread of Life my spirit needed. I wasn't sure how to find Jesus or how to feed upon Him when I did. But I did know that without Jesus, I was spiritually dead. And I also knew that I wanted spiritual life. I needed Jesus.
Excerpted from "Chapter 29 Revisited" by Jean Coleman. Copyright © 2012 by Jean Coleman. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.