Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wild Faith: Sharp Hunger

Wild Faith begins with sharp hunger.

Hunger with a bite.

Hunger with an edge.

Hunger with a purpose.

Have you ever had a time when you were hungry and you just could not decide what you wanted to eat? You stand and stare into the cupboards or the refrigerator and tick off each item…knowing that it is not what you want, but not sure of what will satisfy this stomach rumble.

We nibble here and we munch there. Eventually the pangs go away, but the actual hunger does not. We are now full, but we are not satisfied.

Spiritual hunger.

We follow the same pattern. We stand and look at books in the Christian bookstores or online. We flip through the radio for the Christian station or shuffle though our tall stack of worship CDs trying to find just the right song. Sometimes we even read a whole chapter of a well-known Christian author’s latest book. We pursue bible study with an admired vengeance. We listen to the message on Sunday mornings and even take notes. We go on short term missions projects. We try every new spiritual fad, but the hunger is still present and still insistent. We are full, well satiated with information and activity, but we are not satisfied. And being full, but not being satisfied is sometimes a dangerous place to be—because we substitute.

I have substituted. I have tried to feed my faith’s sharp hunger with so many things: service, study, activity, art, music, words, books, food, emotions, appetites, drives, and spirituality. Like me, David often substituted to satisfy this hunger. And we both experienced discontent, disappointment, dissonance, disruption, and depression.

Read through the Psalms. David’s hunger was only abated and appeased by one thing.

Wild faith can only be satisfied with one thing:

God’s presence.

Stop!

We must be very careful that we don’t apply our cultural or even our religious definitions to God’s presence. We must not measure His presence with our expectations of answered prayers or the emotions we feel or do not feel. We cannot equate his presence with our own warped sense of expectations. We cannot completely evaluate the quantity and quality of his presence with our limited ability to discern and be aware. He is present, but more often than not we are just not capable of recognizing him.

Why?

We use too many filters. And often these filters are too narrow or too broad. We also tend to convolute the simplicity of the wild faith. We create a labyrinth that is just too stringent for people (including us) to try to maneuver.

Maybe our most detrimental assumption is that when we are in his presence the hunger goes completely away—

Do not count on this. God does not allow our hunger to totally dissipate. The keen edge of hunger makes us sharply aware. He will use this to help us be attuned to his presence. He satisfies us, and then he makes hungry again. Sounds a little contradictory. Feels a little mean. I used to think so.

I am finally coming to understand (in my own finiteness) God wants us whole and complete, not just full. And I am learning that the purpose of spiritual hunger is to encourage us to desire to be in God’s presence.

God wants us to be his satisfied (complete and whole) people, not just people with appetites assuaged for a brief while.


Wild Faith begins with sharp hunger.


How hungry are you?



“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods…we will feast on the abundance of your house; you will give [us] drink from your river of delights…the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines…”

Psalm 63:5; Psalm 36:8; Isaiah 25:6

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