And taking food, he was strengthened.
This verse stuck out to me today as I was reading the famous account of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 (by the way, Saul’s name doesn’t change to Paul when he gets saved. Check it out for yourself).
Why did this verse stick out to me? Because of how boring it is.
Here we are in the middle of one of the most spectacular stories recorded in the New Testament. The great persecutor of the church—the “Bin Laden” of the 1st century—has a spectacular encounter with the One True God. The Lord Jesus Christ appears to him in a bomb of light. The humiliated “tough guy”, Paul, is cowering in fear before the One he has been seeking in his hatred and pride to destroy.
Jesus sends Paul to Damascus where He has already prepared His servant, Ananias, to meet Paul. When Ananias meets Paul, he ministers to him The Gospel, Paul is baptized in the Holy Spirit, the blinding scales wilt from his eyes, and he is set free by the power of God in Christ!
And having nothing to eat or drink for 3 days (Acts 9.9), Paul is restored to full strength by the power of the Holy Spirit!!!
…. wait…. no…. that’s not what happened.
After God has performed these spectacular, fantastic, supernatural feats in him, Paul, the author of half of the New Testament, does something utterly boring—he eats food!
So what’s my point?
After all that display of power and might, God chooses to use regular ole, plain Jane, unspectacular, slow-cooked-on-a-fire, everyday, ordinary food.
Why didn’t God restore his strength supernaturally?
Here’s what I think:
Students often ask me, “Why doesn’t God do miracles all the time like He used to?” I think that’s a pretty typical question to ask.
But here’s what I tell them every time: God has never done miracles “all the time”. You may get that impression if you don’t read your Bible carefully. Certainly there are certain times in which God will do some pretty spectacular things. And because the Bible focuses on the works of God in this world, much of the Bible is about these spectacular things. But pay attention when you read. The period between these “spectacular things” is sometimes hundreds of years! If you are not reading carefully you will glide right over this fact. Or take 1 Samuel 3.1 for example. It records, “And the word of The Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” They were probably asking the same question: “Why doesn’t God do all those miracles and visions like He used to?”
Even when God did do spectacular things they were often very localized—affecting only a few people. When God sends down fire on Elijah’s offering, most of the witnesses are killed! When you read your Bible you will notice that God primarily acts in miraculous ways during particular intervals of time (Moses, Elijah/Elisha, Jesus and the establishment of the Church). Besides these short time periods, miraculous events are few and far between.
So what did they do between these periods (and even in the middle of them)? They did boring things. They did normal things. They ate food. They drank water. They went to work. They sat in their houses. The slept in their beds.
99% of the time God uses the normal things in our lives—food, water, work, rest, sleep. Rinse and repeat. Day after day after day.
You may not see God do “spectacular and miraculous things”. Don’t worry. Virtually no one has. (And many who say they have experienced all these miraculous things have greatly embellished their stories).
Be faithful with the small things. Train your children in the fear and admonition of The Lord. Go to work. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Read your Bible. Eat food. Pray.
In all these, trust that The Lord Jesus is the sovereign King over all things, whether you see spectacular things or not, and seek to glorify him in everything that you do.
Jesus to His disciples: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus said to [Thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
1 Thessalonians 4.11-12