Take God’s Word and Eat It
God calls John to take the small scroll that has been unrolled from the great angel. And what is he to do with it? Eat it! It first tasted great and then it did not, and it made John sick. And then, he was called to take this prophecy to the entire world. John is being used to declare God’s message so it can be heard by others. But, before this message can be given, it must be taken and it must convict and transform. John had to undergo conviction that was both bitter and sweet; it was bitter because of its news of suffering, and sweet for it blessings of communion and restoration with God. God has His creation and messengers, even magnificent angels beyond our ability to understand or perceive, let alone His Majestic nature; yet, it is us Christians whom God desires to use over all else. This is the awesome privilege and responsibility that John demonstrates to us. God has better means to make Himself known, but still desires to use us. What we gain is so sweet.
This passage is more about receiving God’s Word for life—like food that is necessary and instrumental for us to survive and thrive; it is for sustenance and joy, as His precepts are. Why are they bitter? Because God’s ways must go deep within us, changing us from the inside out. His precepts convict and challenge us to move from our means and ways to His Way. This causes us to transform and be challenged—a process that takes its toll on our will, satisfaction, resolution, and pride. Its ultimate bitterness is the cost of our surrender as He becomes more in us and we become less to ourselves. His Word becomes a greater part of us, affecting all we are and do. Yet, its positive sweetness is that it enhances and improves us beyond our measure and this is far, far greater that what we think we lose. We can quickly forget its sweetness when all we see is what we think we lose rather than the bounty of what we gain (Rom. 12; Heb 4:12).
In this passage, the call is to be proactive—to take what the Lord has given and do as He has empowered and called. What has He called you to do and with what? How many times do we ignore His call? God does not need us, but He does desire to use us. We are the instruments and means He uses to make His voice heard and known. Yes, the Spirit goes before us, but we are the examples and the truth-tellers of His Word and precepts. We are to know His Word and His percepts first; they must go deep and break us free of our sin so we can bathe in His love. For the Christian leader and pastor, it is essential that our words match our beliefs and our behaviors match our convictions. It does no good to give a sermon or lead a church when we are not impacted by the words we say or do not walk in the direction that we ask of others.
What does it mean to you to be convicted? What should it mean? What does it take for you to experience conviction? How have you gone through this in the past? How has it been both bitter and sweet?