01 Feb Walking Wet…Leaving Footprints of Grace
I am hungry. When I am physically hungry, my stomach has a no-nonsense way of getting my attention. It gurgles and growls. I feel an emptiness and a gnawing in my belly that my body is inviting me—no, demanding me—to address. The physical sensations that accompany hunger are intrusive and urgent. My body doesn’t really ask nicely if I would please feed it. It is much more insistent than that. It creates a ruckus until I attend to its needs.
The truth is that I often eat when I am not hungry. I’ve realized that when I do that, I am using food to mask other hungers, deeper hungers, soul hungers. There are ways my body tries to communicate with me that it is hungry for something besides food. These deeper hungers are not as easy to fix as physical hunger, and especially when I am already busy or tired, my tendency is to ignore them. It’s a bad idea to ignore our deepest hungers, because ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. They just get buried beneath all our other priorities and activities, until they eventually emerge again. Only this time, after we’ve tried to silence them with food or shopping or video games or busyness, they make a much bigger stink. Our deep hungers are for our good, and denying them never goes well.
It is a profound question: what are your deepest hungers? What do you long for? There are many hungers that we share: the deep desire for love and companionship, to be known by another human being and loved for who we are. We hunger for meaning and purpose. We want to know that the allotment of days we are each given counts for something, that we aren’t simply a blip on the radar screen of human history. We hunger, I think, for what the Bible calls Shalom, a deep inner peace, a contentment that is not determined by circumstances, a soul at rest. We also hunger for joy. We want to enjoy our lives, to smile and laugh and know what it is to delight in the people, events and places that make up our days.
I wonder how many of the world’s ills are, at root, ill-conceived attempts to satisfy our hungers. We are afraid of being vulnerable, and since true love requires vulnerability, we settle for casual sex and pornography instead. Because we are unwilling to make ourselves known, we miss out on deep relationships, substituting busyness and lots of acquaintances for real friendship. Entertainment is an easy and readily-available substitute for joy, and we try to buy meaning, thinking the latest gadget or newest toy will surely make us feel like “somebody.” The surrogates for love, purpose, peace and joy are all so common and so foolish. And all are destined to fail us.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) Jesus is addressing our deep spiritual hungers in this statement. He is reminding us that apart from him, we cannot experience the satisfaction for which we long. Love will always escape us. Meaning will be tenuous, at best, like sand shifting beneath our feet. Peace will be fleeting, subject to every foible, every discouragement, every tragedy we encounter. Joy? Forget it. It will be as elusive as the wind. We think we have hold of it but discover only emptiness when we open our clenched fists.
But Jesus—Jesus has it all, and he wants to share it with us. Lavishly. Poured out so extravagantly that it will spill all over the place. Jesus wants to make a great big mess of joy, with peace dripping all around, love running amok and purpose splashing in the abundance of it all. Jesus wants to do that in you. Jesus wants to do that in me. Wow. Even a triple-chocolate brownie sundae can’t compete with that.
Yours for the Kingdom,