A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Book reviews, Christianity, Leviticus

Burn the Fat

Sacrificial Lamb. Painting by Josefa de Obidos, o Josefa de Ayala
I’m not talking about exercising in order to lose calories and burn fat.
Not at all.
Today I’m writing about that study of Leviticus we have at church by a wonderful teacher who has managed to get me excited in return.
The first day of a new study it’s always full of excitement and motivation. When motivation fails, we would do great if we remember to establish a discipline or habit. My dear friend Sarah writes eloquently about it. For me to keep my motivation, I’ve planned a day a week to work on the lesson. That discipline will keep me moving when the motivation wears off, and it will also awaken it.
I watched the video on Leviticus at the Bible Project, where they have other great videos to grasp the books of the Bible’s main meaning and structure. I read the handout for that day. Lesson one had the different types of sacrifice, how we could divide them on “I’m sorry” or “I’m thankful” type of sacrifices, and how some could overlap. And then I read the first 6 chapters of Leviticus for that lesson.
You won’t believe what a different reading that was. The first sentence got a new meaning.

The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting.

In all honesty it was the first time I noticed that, at the beginning of Leviticus, communication with God was broken, Moses had to be OUTSIDE of the tent.

This reading of Leviticus first 6 chapters wasn’t dry at all. There was poetry and comfort in the repetitions of some steps of the rituals, as when it’s clearly stated what fat is to be removed, around which organs (liver, kidneys). Some phrases repeat, as in the Kings when you read “Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David his father”.

The different chapters with the different offerings were clearer this time. I liked the part when God tells them that if they can’t offer a lamb, then doves will do, if they can’t even offer doves for sacrifice, a tenth of an epha of flour would do. Today we were reading from Corinthians, and Paul -inspired by God-, tells us the same in our giving. God doesn’t ask us to give that which we don’t have. But He also knows well we all have something to give, and we are asked to give cheerfully.

I know many of you knew this, but I was curious as why the chapters insist that the FAT has to be burned, and the detailed specifications about the different areas of fat in the animal that had to be extracted and burned. A quick search and I realized the significance of fat, as the best of any production, and how it belongs to Him. When they could keep the fat, they could make much out of it, like soap (that washes us clean), candles (that provide light), and it’s used for cooking. Some fat adds lots of flavor to meals, while fat from some parts of the animal are the best ones for baking. If Christ is our perfect Lamb, His perfect sacrifice surely provides us with all that “fat”, and we get to “keep it” and partake of it.

Nothing is more rewarding than to go through the week finding connections and ideas in our reads, in the lessons and sermons we hear, in our conversations. These past weeks have been wonderful for that. Some days, as I show up to learn along with my daughters, defeat shows at my door. It’s not always easy, when lessons happen every day, motivation runs off quickly, and all I have is my dangerous tendency to loose heart, to be impatient, to complain. But there’s something I can choose each day. I can choose to fix my sight on these connections we’ve made, the small things, and I’m amazed at everything that’s offered to us by the Author of every good and perfect thing.

This week I just finished another wonderful read this year, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and the writer has a piercing exchange between Francie and her English teacher. What’s beauty? Francie’s teacher tells her that all that poverty, the pain, the ugliness, that’s not beauty, that’s not what we want to read about, write about. For Frances, that’s real, and there’s a painful beauty to be told, the kind of beauty that makes the pain tolerable, worth to endure.

(A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an ode to small things, an apology to integrity. I want to be like Francie, who sees beauty in little things.  This morning I heard my daughter exclaimed, “oh, great!, double ply toilet paper”. Hopefully I’m not alone in this pursue.)

After reading the teacher and Francie’s conversation on beauty,  I listened to Cindy’s talk life at the Circe conference, and she talked about that painful beauty too. A mom came to her concerned about her book, Mere Motherhood. She was reluctant to read yet another book of a wonderful family. I’ve heard friends expressing that same feeling. Scratch that!, I’ve been that person myself. When life is painful, the media bombardment and strong utilitarian messages around us (read this, buy that, follow this, avoid that and you’ll become, you’ll get, your life will improve, all your worries will disappear…) don’t offer any true protection, no real peace. That peace, that Divine Legacy, comes from Him. There’s small glimpses of it in our small lives, most specially, in our low moments, when we may not necessarily feel it, it’s still there. A little time passes, and we notice it everywhere. As my friend Amy says, it’s in our weaknesses that the Lord shows Himself strong.  


and pain,


This week, while reading The Bronze Bow, we got to the part when the main character, Daniel, a fugitive Jewish boy who hates the Romans, visits his wealthy friend Joel. Historical fiction brings an exciting dimension to life. The people in this book are living under the Law. Daniel’s dirty clothes (he could not remove his traveling cloak full of dust because his clothes underneath were too tattered and dirty as well), causing the house of his friend Joel to become dirty. Daniel remarks how when he leaves he knows they’d have to cleanse the house because of his visit.
I’m unable to connect the bits and pieces of this blog post. I just wanted to give you all an idea of the beauty of life, even when it’s painful, even when we don’t see His plan at that hard moment in our day. It’s simple, though not easy, but there’s beauty in life, ideas, love, growth, joy, even in the middle of our pain and struggles. If we are willing to burn the fat, we will be allowed to keep it too for our profit.

3 thoughts on “Burn the Fat”

  1. I actually love the book of Leviticus…so much history and significance that helps us better understand the New Testament and especially the book of Hebrews 🙂 Your explanation of why the fat was burned is such a good reminder. Love this.

    I'm excited to see what you think of the Bronze Bow! We're scheduled to read a book by the same author. I really do adore historical fiction. Your blog post ties together the pieces of your day and week into a living tapestry. It is a grace-filled life 🙂


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