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Feast On Soul Food This Thanksgiving
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Feast On Soul Food This Thanksgiving

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Words by Mandalyn Renicker

What are you feasting on this Thanksgiving? Will your table be laden with the classics—turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and lots of pie? How many vegetable sides are you hoping to squeeze onto your plate? Or maybe your family likes to celebrate in a nontraditional way by ordering pizza or takeout Chinese. While the golden-brown turkey is often the center of the spread for the Thanksgiving meal, I like to imagine each table across America looking a little different based on the particular cultural flavors of each family and the traditions that have been handed down over the generations. 

America is a beautifully diverse nation and our Thanksgiving tables do well to reflect that. However, the feast shared by believers in the Lord Jesus really ought to look the same. I’m not talking about the mouth-watering forkfuls that fill our bellies, but the sweeter-than-honey food that will fill our souls—Jesus Christ.  

Isaiah brings a beautiful invitation from the mouth of the Lord of what we should be feasting on:  

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)  

And he follows with a question that sees straight into our hearts:   

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:2a)  

I find it so easy to slip into feeding my soul with junk food that doesn’t truly satisfy. It’s the kind of feast that looks something like this: a table filled with dish after dish of reputation and good deeds and community service. Spoonfuls of a healthy marriage and family relationships are heaped onto a plate alongside a double helping of career and work-life balance. For dessert, a slice of hospitality and some memorized Scripture. 

Most of these things are good and godly aspirations, but none of them will really satisfy our souls. Feasting at that table and expecting richness and sustenance for our spiritual lives is like eating wood chips for Thanksgiving dinner! “Why,” the Lord pleads with us, “are you spending your time chasing after something that will not fill you and seeing such value in something that isn’t even food?” God’s gracious words to us through Isaiah don’t end there, though. He gives us a beautiful alternative:  

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. (Isaiah 55:2b) 

Soul-satisfying food is only found in the Word of the Lord who dwelt among us in the flesh: Jesus Christ. He tells us in plain terms that he is the object of our soul’s desire by calling himself the bread of life and reminding his listeners that God provided bread from heaven once before:  

Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. […] Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (John 6:35, 49-50) 

Peter calls it spiritual milk, tells us to hunger for it like babies, and gives us the result of eating it: “that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). 

Bread of life and spiritual milkboth sound like soul food! Clearly this is not an optional feast for Christians. It is absolutely necessary for our growth and sustenance to taste the Word of the Lord, eat the bread of life, and drink deeply of spiritual milk and water from the living fountain.  

Our beautiful Thanksgiving meals are simply a shadow of the feast our souls should be having every day. While we’re filling our bellies with delicious food and our hearts with the warmth of sharing it, we can remember to feast our souls on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ for us. That food is sweeter than honey, rich, and tastes so good!