Our son is back at his college campus, ready to start his second semester; and so our house is quiet again. I'm not baking up a storm anymore. Daily cakes and banana breads don't need to appear on the kitchen counter anymore. Our hunger- Bill's, Abby's and mine- is manageable. But when you're feeding a nineteen year old, their hunger never ends. It's a good sign, though. It means that they're healthy and growing.
Lately I've been thinking about spiritual hunger, what it is, what it isn't. I've been thinking about the things we do to address our hunger. And then I got thinking about the many ways God fills us when we're hungry. Like a gourmet chef in a deluxe kitchen, God has everything at His disposal to fix us up something that simply satiates our soul. And lately I've been discovering how easy it is to get your voracious appetite addressed: show up at meal time!
The thing is, God doesn't serve routinely. In spite of what many might think, I'm not so sure that Sunday is God's favorite day to "feed" us. I think He also likes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday..... Maybe what really motivates Him, pulls on His heart, is hunger- real hunger. And God can tell- even when we can't- when we are truly hungering for Him. Those who hunger....are filled. By Him. He says it in His Word. If we are not getting filled, then we have to wonder: am I really hungry? Am I, maybe, just a fussy eater who is going to pick at whatever is offered, anyways, and the great Chef can tell that?
In our house, growing up, fussy eaters were frowned upon...tremendously. My parents' goal seemed to be to continually expose us to the choicest and weirdest of foods. Maturity meant you tried everything and oohed and ahhed over the flavor of it all. You really needed to pretend that you were enjoying the experience of eating all these healthy, strange foods, or you were going to be continually presented with them, over and over. Actually, even if you liked eating deer meat, soy beans, baked trout, or a weird lumpy kind of cheese, you were still going to keep getting these foods. This is the diet they thought was best.
So I wonder if we take our food fears to God. Do we place on Him our apprehension that we just know, for sure, that he is going to feed us something we don't like when we say we are hungry. And worse, if we go to God and say that we are hungry, and we don't even know for what, will God then surprise us with something awful and lumpy and chewy and tell us that THIS is what we were hungry for?
I read Jentezen Franklin's book on Fasting just before the New Year, and now I am reading a book about a woman who enters cooking contests. There's a lot of food descriptions in the book. Most of them do not entice me at all. I might have particular tastes, I am finding out.
I enjoy a good chunk of homemade bread with a lump of butter. I'll eat a piece of cake, once in a while, but for the most part I'm not that drawn to sugary things. Give me a steak (medium rare) anytime. And sure, throw in vegetables. Not because they're good for me. I like them. Especially if they're not overcooked. I love baked potatoes with sour cream and chives. And in the fish and seafood family, I'll take lobster, scallops, shrimp cocktail, and baked haddock. Oh, and lots of fresh spinach or spinach in a quiche. And omelettes with mushrooms, onions and swiss cheese.
See? A lot of this stuff is good for me- but I don't eat it primarily because of that. All of the food listed above are some favorites of mine. They satisfy my hunger and my taste buds. I've developed a taste for some of the above, and some foods I loved from early on. That's my physical hunger.
As for my spiritual hunger, I'm finding out that I relish not only times alone with God in quiet thought and reflective journal writing, but lately I've been quite chatty with Him. And I feel His pleasure at being with me. We've had a running repartee- with God getting His thoughts to me through a sense that I'm "feeling" His answer, rather than audibly hearing His replies.
People have asked me this question: how do you know when you are really hearing God talk to you? For me, it's when I hear something in my spirit that is too gracious and truthful and loving and forgiving for it to have come from me so quickly and easily. Proverbs tells us that " a soft answer turns away wrath" and I know that a gracious answer turns away doubt and fear. A loving, forgiving, welcoming answer draws me in.
You might say this is all about how He feeds me. I'm learning that with God, the feast that He prepares for me (in the presence of mine enemies, Psalm 23 tells us) is a feast that I want- even if I don't know it yet. He whets my appetite for more of Him as a way to draw me in and give me what I've been hungering for. He's glorious and He's good. To me. And I want more of Him.