Why a Manger? (the part of the Christmas story I missed for 40 years)


December 3, 2014 by Beth Hess

manger-524x404Sugar-free for 63 days, and I have reached the bargaining stage of my grieving its loss. Creeping as close as I can to its boundary. Nibbling the edges of sobriety by wondering if allowing myself the crumbs of something sweet would send me back to Day 1.

Wanting my cake. And eating it, too.

Looking to for the literal “sweet spot” where I can enjoy both satisfaction and sobriety.

Which really isn’t the point at all.

I have long known that true freedom from food addiction — a complete recovery — would have to be radically different from any diet or food plan or eating habits or exercise program I have used before.

Because while some of them were helpful, even momentarily healing, none were a cure.

Had they been, I would not be here now.

Which my mind understood to mean that returning to my previous medications for my food wounds would not be enough. For a final clearing of the dis-ease between me and food, a complete heart transplant would be necessary.

I have spent the last 63 days using various spirit-filled resources to aid in this transaction. The trading of pounds for peace. Choosing to overflow my soul instead of my stomach. Moving from death to life.

I am slowly learning to distinguish between physical hunger and soul hunger and feed each appropriately. Food as fuel for an empty stomach. Jesus himself as sustenance for a growling spirit of stress, loneliness, boredom, or feeling out of control.

I am eating my Daily Bread of His Word and lapping up the Living Water.

I am tasting and seeing that HE is good.

And still the struggle to surrender my whole body and its feeding habits is very, very real.


For more than 40 Christmases, I have heard its story.

A very pregnant Mary. A donkey ride to Bethlehem. A star-filled night. An over-booked hotel. A birth in a barn. A bed of straw.

Animals and Angels. Shepherds and a Star.

But I have always missed this part.

“You know that at Jesus’ birth He was immediately placed into a manger, right? But do you know what a manger is? It’s where the food is placed for animals — Jesus Christ was placed into a feeding trough! His birth makes a statement that He came to be fed upon.” (Feasting at the Lord’s Table, Mike Cleveland)

From His first minutes of life as a human, Jesus made a way for us to be filled. Sustained. Satisfied. In every way.

He would later testify that He came to bring us life. Abundant life.

Not life full of tiptoeing around a buffet or beating our bodies into submission. But a life satisfied first and FULLY in Him.

I admit I am still learning this process — discovering what feasting on the Lord and His Word and His Spirit means as it pertains to when to lift my fork and when to lay it down.

But I can tell you this. My hunger is building. It has never rumbled in me more than it does today.

Not for food. Not even for sugar.

But for a moment with the King. The one in the manger.


TWWbutton200x200_zps62610d74Linking with Kristin Hill Taylor and #threewordwednesday (Click the logo to the left for insights from more wonderful writers and friends.)

12 thoughts on “Why a Manger? (the part of the Christmas story I missed for 40 years)

  1. Simply Beth says:

    Oh sweet, Beth. This my friend was beautiful and words I needed. And I really needed that knowledge about the manager. You are inspiring me, friend. It’s baby steps but it’s been almost a week since I have purged. Progress. Feeding on Him . . . oh how He fills us like nothing else can. Love you so much. xoxo


    • Beth Hess says:

      God sure knew what He was doing when He connected us, huh? My heart just aches that you might struggle in any part the way I have. The way I do. Let’s keep taking these steps together, OK? No matter how small. Love to you, too!


  2. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I love this post! My husband and I began a no-sugar lifestyle beginning Oct 2014 as well. I allowed myself to “indulge” over Thanksgiving and it’s been hard to get back on track. I’ve done numerous “sugar detoxes” but find that as soon as I allow myself to eat a bit of sugar, I’m sucked right back in! I’m struggling on whether it’s possible to say goodbye to sugar forever. For us, it’s a spiritual journey as well…relying on Him for peace rather than food and I’ve never thought of the manger aspect of it. Thank you for this post. 🙂 We share our story over at http://www.ourrealfoodjourney.com.


    • Beth Hess says:

      I’m so glad to meet with you here, Sharlie. It’s a very real battle, isn’t it? I’m so glad our God knows our pain and meets us in that place to set us free. I look forward to reading your blog as well. Thank you for linking it.


  3. Kristin Hill Taylor says:

    I’ve never thought about what a manger really is. I’ve thought about it as a lowly place – such a contrast from heaven. But the fact is was laid there so he could fee us is truly amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and perspective. I’m so glad you linked up this post with #ThreeWordWednesday.


  4. JoNell says:

    Thank you again, Beth! I believe you are being used by God in a wonderful way. The two of you are a powerful team–somehow it seems that you “feed” me what I need just when I need it most!


  5. stoopingformanna says:

    Amen! We were made to hunger for and be satisfied by Him alone. This is a beautiful and well-written reflection. Thanks for sharing your gift here. Loved it!


  6. This right here is beautiful, Beth. And eye-opening and soul-searching. I just love everything about it and I’m going to be chewing on this for a while… Pardon the very bad and unintended pun. Yes! He came for us to feed upon Him. Yes!


    • Beth Hess says:

      I LOVE that you used the term “chewing on it” … it’s one I use quite a bit. Tells you were my mind is most of the time, huh? Thank you for your kind words, Meredith.


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