Have you ever come out of an especially dark season and been surprised by joy? Or been released from an extended period of fear and tension, to finally collapse into the warmth and rest of safety? Has a load ever been lifted, that left you feeling lighter and freer than you ever thought you could feel?
Or, on the other end of the spectrum – have you gone without something for so long, that you acclimatized to the gnawing pains of hunger within you?
Have you become accustomed to starvation?
This is the question that has been winding around my brain over the past couple of weeks – ever since I participated in a three-day food fast along with my church. Now, I really suck at fasting. I’ve never been able to do the full three days, as many people are able to do. This time around, I fasted from breakfast and lunch for two days, and that was as far as I got.
But it always amazes me, even with the partial fast, how I notice such an intense difference in my body as soon as I begin to eat normally again. With my first meal, I can literally feel my energy being renewed. Minute by minute, my alertness and strength return in fuller and fuller measure. It is as if I am a depleted gas tank, and fuel is being poured into me – from my head, to my stomach, and into my limbs, fingertips, and toes.
The first day after my most recent fast, when I again ate a full three meals, I felt almost euphoric. That afternoon, I went out skating with my boys in the crisp air for a good hour and a half. Then as I was in the kitchen making supper after returning home, I felt positively light, awake, and even…bouncy! I asked myself, “My goodness, why do I feel so good?” And then I remembered: I had eaten that day!
It was as if, even in that very short amount of time, I had forgotten what it felt like to be full.
And it caused me to ask myself another question: How am I doing spiritually? Am I walking around full of the Holy Spirit? Or am I hungry? Depleted? Wasting away, and trying to fill the emptiness with all kinds of silly things that have no nutrition – no staying power?
How many of us – even Christians, in the Church, are bored? Tired? Longing? Famished?
And if so, are we even aware of our state? Or have we become accustomed to spiritual starvation?
If I reflect on my years of following Jesus, there have been a few precious times when He has jolted me awake with a shock of His love. For example – an unexpected affirmation, deep in my spirit, that comes out of nowhere and leaves me amazed at His goodness. Or a precise and immediate snipping of some kind of tie that had kept me bound for years. Or an overflowing of love for God and other people that I’m not capable of on my own.
But let me be honest – these moments are the exception, not the rule.
And though they leave me feeling full when they happen – sometimes, for days; the effect generally does wear off.
I get hungry.
And that is when I need to return and let His Spirit fill me again. Like having three square meals a day: if I don’t keep up the habit, I run out of steam.
No, it’s not always a feast that I can live off of for days to come. (Maybe this is intentional, because He wants us to keep coming back!) But it’s regular, solid nutrition, that keeps me grounded in Him and gives me the stamina to persevere from day to day.
And as I get into the habit of filling my spiritual stomach with what it needs – the Word, meditation, and conversing with God – it becomes the thing I reach for, without even a second thought.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”Matthew 5:6 NIV
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.Psalm 34:8 NIV
“The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”Psalm 34:10 NIV
It saddens and surprises me that I could be starving spiritually, without even knowing it. Help us, as your Church, to learn what it means to be full. To not grow so accustomed to pangs of hunger that we fail to acknowledge they’re even there, or attribute them to something else. We need you, Lord – like water, like food. Fill us anew and give us grace to face what you have for us today, and in the coming days.
Thank you, Jesus. We love you, Lord.
Are you hungry for more of God? Can I pray for you? Leave any prayer requests you may have in the comments.