I have this bad habit. Every Friday I do the grocery shopping for our household. I plan a dinner menu for the coming week, assess the Bigs’ lunch box supplies, make my grocery list, snag my reusable canvas bags, pack up Little Bit and away we go. I try to make sure I do this before lunch so we have plenty of time to get home and get things put away before we have to meet the bus. On a highly efficient day, Little Bit might even have a shot at a nap!
Now, what happens next is the bad habit part. Without fail, I will put away the last of the groceries, hang the bag of bags on the bannister for another week and then try to find something for MY lunch. With all those groceries I just selected, purchased and packed away, it never fails that I don’t want any of it for myself. I’m hungry – don’t misunderstand that! My tummy is usually presenting quite a case by this point, but I’m not hungry for what I have.
Oh how my spirit works the same way! My cabinet is stocked with opportunity but I want solitude. There’s a big can of encouragement, but I am looking for excuses. My plate is heaped with accountability, but I can’t find denial no matter how hard I look for it. What about the days I am ravenous for peace but the enemy has slammed my fridge with discord and strife? I crave joy but all I can find in this world is pain.
I can’t tell you how many times I have just given up on lunch and poured myself another cup of coffee. The caffeine will do the trick for now and keep me going. I’ll figure out the food thing later.
And our spiritual life can be handled the same way. Oh, I’ll just go sit through Sunday School or worship and deal with my deeper craving later. I’ll say a quick prayer and do my Bible reading and journaling later. I’ll study for that later because every time I sit down to study, the enemy finds a way to erode my confidence and tells me I have no business leading anyone.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
See the problem isn’t the hunger. Hunger is good. It’s the object. What am I hungry for? There are people who are hungry for status, material goods, acceptance, attention or any number of other things. And they stay hungry. I love my coffee! But it doesn’t fill me up. It doesn’t satisfy. Oh, it has its place! My children will tell you it serves to supply great peace in our house between 6:30-6:45 AM. Momma hugs her coffee for a few minutes and then we all smile. Pathetic and wrong? Probably. Reality? Unfortunately.
Hunger is good when we are hungry for the right things. Craving the Holy Spirit is SO good! Desiring accountability in an area of struggle is a blessing. A ravenous desire for scripture is fulfilling and satisfying.
There’s more to it though. A few years ago (pre Little Bit) I would have a much smaller cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal with cherries and Nutella. That was a much better start to my day! It satisfied me for a longer period of time and it was a healthier supply for my body. I felt better when that was how I started my day. But I didn’t like oatmeal. Apologies to the Quaker but I loathed the stuff. I had to train my body to like it or at least tolerate it. And yes, it took a lot of cherries and Nutella to get there.
Then Little Bit came on the scene and I didn’t really care what I was eating as long as I was keeping it down (while I was pregnant) or as long as I had time and energy to eat (newborn to…well, this very moment). Which brings us back to the copious quantities of coffee I consume. I have admittedly fallen away from my healthy habits.
1 Peter 2:1 & 2
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
When our heart hungers have gone astray, we may need to go back to the beginning. Sometimes what we really need to do to quench our hunger is stop everything and go back to “Jesus Loves Me” and John 3:16. But we can’t stay there. I love the end of Hebrews 14. “But solid food is for the mature who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
Like my oatmeal aversion, sometimes what is good for us is not pleasant but we have to train ourselves to embrace the good and set pleasantries aside. Only then do we find the satisfaction promised back in Matthew 5.