Where Is The RICE???
By Romualdo M. Sente, Jr.
A few weeks after my family migrated here in the U.S. from the Philippines in the Winter of 2002, I was invited to join a group of pastors for prayer and fellowship in Mt. Vernon, WA which is approximately one hour drive away from our place. My body clock then was struggling to adjust to the weird time of the Pacific Northwest – 12:00 noon was 3 o’clock in the morning in the Philippines. I was so sleepy and hungry that even the best brewed Seattle coffee could barely keep my eyes from dozing off and my stomach from rumbling.
Finally, at around 12:30 PM the host pastor announced that lunch is ready. Finally! I’ve been looking forward to it. We all headed to the dining room just to see some fruits, cut onions and tomatoes, fresh bunch of lettuce, sliced cheese, hamburger buns and patties, mayonnaise, and mustard. Where’s the food? I mean, where’s lunch? WHERE IS THE RICE???
For Filipinos like me or for Asians in general, lunch without rice is not lunch at all. Burgers, pizzas, and tacos are not considered as part of the Asian lunch menu. It is not lunch if there is no rice. After the so called “lunch” was over my belly and my brain was still screaming for rice. Even after I’ve eaten my share of burger I was still hungry because there was no RICE!!! When I got home I literally devoured two plateful of rice.
What have you been craving for lately? A bar of chocolate that you dearly miss since you started your diet two days ago? A cup of cappuccino from Starbucks? A piece of honey glazed donut from Krispy Krème? Or, how about your mom’s special pot roast?
A food craving is an intense desire to consume a specific food, stronger than simply normal hunger. There is no single explanation for food cravings, and explanations range from low serotonin levels affecting the brain centers for appetite to production of endorphins as a result of consuming fats and carbohydrates. Whatever the reason is, a craving person has no interest in knowing the medical explanation on why he is craving. What he is interested is on how he can satisfy his cravings.
Now, before you go out to grab some donut, coffee, and a bar of chocolate or before you call your mom let me tell you something, God wanted you to crave for His Word. Yes, I agree with you that it is not a food that can satisfy your taste buds and fill your stomach but it is the only food that can satisfy your heart. It is the only food that can fill your hungry spirit and quench your thirsty soul.
After decades of not seeing, reading, and hearing the Book of the Law (Bible), the Israelites, who were banned from reading the Word of God while they were in captivity in Babylon wept like babies when Ezra, for the first time started reading it in public (Nehemiah 8). For years they’ve been craving for the Word of the Lord and on that day, their cravings were satisfied. And even if their hunger was already gratified they still crave for more that they listened and listened for the Word of God not only for hours but for days.
In most provinces in China, Chinese believers risk of being arrested just to have a copy of the Bible. In many Arab and Muslim countries believers treat a torn page of the Scripture more than a bar of gold. In these countries believers need to be very extra cautious in reading, preaching, and listening to the Word of God in fear of arrest and persecution even by their own families and friends.
How do we fair here in the “Land of the Free?” where copies of Scriptures are in abundance and can be read without fear of persecution and arrest? Fact is, most Americans whether they are Christians or non-Christians own a Bible. Interestingly, hundreds of thousands of Atheists also own a Bible. In fact, 92% of households in America own at least a copy of the Bible. However, out of 92% who owns a Bible only 59% are reading it occasionally. Occasionally?! Yes, occasionally. Sad, eh =(
Aside from your favorite food, are you craving for the Word of God? Are you one of the 92% who owns a Scripture at home? Are you one of the 59% who reads their Bible? Are you one of the few who reads the Word of God religiously because you crave for it daily and can’t live without it?
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).” If I am going to put it in an Asian context this is what Jesus is going to say, “I am the rice of life. Whoever craves for me will be gratified. Whoever longs for me will be satisfied.” Amen!