I have spent the last week ruminating on something that became clear to me Sunday night. I’ve been wanting to write about it. Because I really want to share it. But I don’t really know where to begin. So if you would be so kind, please bear with me here. But don’t go away.
Because I have a story to tell.
This semester in my ladies small group (that I happen to facilitate), we did an amazing bible study by Jen Hatmaker called Road Trip: Five Adventures You’re Meant to Live. And it has seriously rocked my world. There is so much good stuff packed into a mere 179 pages I can’t even begin to describe the impact it’s had on me. She has this crazy ability to be humorous and relate-able one second and then bring you right to the meat of the lesson the next.
And I was fed, y’all.
I learned so much about the life I’m meant to live as a follower of Christ. I can’t even begin to explain it. But here’s where the rubber meets the road. One lesson that stands out to me is Week Five: Contentment. In it, we explored what it means to hunger for God. Over the course of five days of study, in just about 25 pages, she shed light on this very broad, rather esoteric concept. That quite frankly I’ve always struggled to understand.
That week, we delved into what it means to have a spiritual hunger. She compared it to our physical hunger. And as a group, we dove right in. Together we explored what it feels like to get hungry physically. And how that relates to being hungry spiritually.
And this is where it gets good. Because I never thought about it like this before. But hunger is a cycle y’all. It’s not constant. I don’t walk around starving hungry all day long, even after I eat something. Nor do I walk around eating every single second of the day. No, I eat. I get satisfied. And then a few hours later, it’s time to eat again. Because I’m hungry again. And so the cycle goes. This simple illustration blew me away.
Because it’s no different with spiritual hunger. Feeding ourselves spiritually is also cyclical. I’m not constantly chewing on the Word of God, walking around with my nose in the Good Book all day long. But I do need a steady filling of it to satisfy my hunger. To sustain me.
I don’t know about you, but when I need to eat, I get cranky. Irritable. Tired. Kinda mean. And pretty short tempered. When I get like this, I usually realize it’s because I need to eat. I may have spent the day grazing, or snacking, so I don’t really feel the pangs of hunger. But when I get this way, especially if I don’t feel particularly hungry, I know I better eat something. Soon. And it better be filling. When I get like this, another cheese stick will simply not do the trick. I need to eat a meal. And then when I’ve finished dinner or lunch or whatever, as if by some miracle, I’m suddenly a much happier person to be around. And I usually get my energy back. And I’m no longer yelling at the dog or my son or snapping my poor husband’s head off. (He gets like this too, by the way. I’m not alone in my hunger insanity!)
Knowing this, my question to the group was this, if I experience all these physical signs that I need to feed myself, and knowing that filling myself spiritually is similar to filling up physically, then what kind of signs should we look for to realize we’re spiritually hungry? Or at least realize that our spiritual blood sugar is low? And that’s where we didn’t have an answer. We kicked around a few ideas, sure, but I never felt like I got the answer I wanted.
Until Sunday night.
For a few weeks leading up to Sunday night, we pretty much put bible study to the side because we were heavily involved as a group in a service project. It was a great project. Worthy of our calling as Christ followers. But, being a new leader, I let it overtake the group for several weeks and we skipped our bible study. Which means, I didn’t even crack my bible open except for Sunday mornings at church. I had gotten out of my routine. And it began to show.
As the weeks wore on, my mood and my attitude became progressively worse. I was Irritable. Tired. Cranky. Listless. Mean. Full of despair. Empty. Scared. Sad. Depressed. And I cried. I cried probably every day for a week before Sunday. And Sunday, I practically woke up crying. Being 31 weeks pregnant, I simply blamed it on hormones. That’s what it had to be, right? That and the fact that my 18 month old is testing his independence and it’s seriously testing my patience these days. And the fact that the holidays are upon us and there’s so much to do in so little time. And I began to hate myself and who I had become. In just a few short weeks.
And then it dawned on me. As clear as a bell I realized, I was hungry. I wasn’t physically hungry and I didn’t need to physically eat, but the signs and symptoms were the same. God used my mood as a spiritual barometer. And once I realized that I was spiritually starving myself, it’s like God spoke into my darkness and said to me clear as the blue sky, “Dear one, do not despair. You just need to eat. You are hungry. You have all that you need at your fingertips. I’m right here with you. I’ve never left you. Open My word and eat. Drink it in. A veritable feast awaits you. Be filled with Me. Worship Me. Eat and be satisfied. Hunger and thirst no more.”
And even though I didn’t listen right away, (so typical) I finally gave in that night. I opened His word and I drank it in and was filled with His love and the richest of fare. And it was better than Thanksgiving dinner.
And He satisfied me. And I’m so thankful. I’m thankful to Jen Hatmaker for bringing it to light and to God for bringing it into focus.
And for filling me up.
And for restoring my spirit. And my mood. And my attitude.
In an instant.
I confess, I haven’t opened my bible every day since Sunday. But it has been opened. And I’m now keenly aware of my need for the kind of filling only He can provide. The kind of satisfaction that only spending time in His word and with Him in prayer can give. And I realize that it doesn’t take hours. But it does take effort.
And that’s what I’ve been thinking about for a week. Because it totally rocked my world.
And I’m glad I was finally able to write it down. And that you stuck around long enough to let me share it with you.
Now, I think I’m gonna go grab a bite to eat. Care to join me?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6