One of the common denominators of the human condition is hunger. Unless debilitated by sickness, we all feel that empty sensation in our belly from time to time. How we choose to quiet that growling goes a long way in determining how healthy we are. If, for example, we consistently turn to comfort foods to fill us, we are missing out on other more important nutrients. Also, over-indulging in these mis-named choices causes our clothes to be less comfortable due to the added weight they bring!
I am no dietician, but I have learned over time that what I take in for nourishment does play an important role in my day to day physical well-being.
Though most likely not as readily agreed upon as our mutual need for food, we all have a longing within us that goes beyond what the physical or natural world can satisfy. I have heard it said that ‘everyone is born with a God-shaped hole inside them, and only God can perfectly fill it.’ When I look back at my life before coming to faith in Christ, I can easily see the truth in this statement. There was a definite hole in me, and I tried many and various ways to fill it or to at least take my mind off its existence. Most of the things I tried to fill it with were unhealthy, illegal or at the very least self-serving. Ultimately, every attempt failed, leaving me more aware of the emptiness within.
It was when I came to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior that I understood that He was what I truly needed to fill this void. I believe this is the heart of Jesus’ message when He said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’ (John 6:35 NIV). As I have pondered this simple yet so profoundly wonderful truth, I’ve wondered why more don’t discover it. All the fruitless searching for that ‘one thing’ to make your life complete has been undertaken while the solution has been available to you all along.
I came to a better understanding of this as I re-read the words of Jesus: He who comes to me. There it is! Though the invitation to partake in the bread of life is always present, action on our part is required. To take what the Lord offers, one must acknowledge the need of it and be truly sorry for the time wasted in looking elsewhere for it.
This is not the only invitation that Jesus offers. In fact, the Scriptures contain many examples: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come I and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 NIV). I love this as not only is Jesus bidding us to open the door to Him, but as we do He will then share the meal with us! This is an invitation to enjoy fellowship with the Lord. To not open that door is like standing outside a local steakhouse with a huge appetite, savoring the wonderful smells coming from its kitchen, yet refusing to go inside even though the bill has already been paid.
Lest you think these invitations are only concerned with eating, consider this one: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV). As with any invitation, it remains only words until it is acted upon. In this case, the coming to Jesus is to acknowledge that the struggles of life have worn you down and that your own coping mechanisms are not working so well. The Lord offers rest to those who will come to Him in this way. This does not mean that your problems will then magically disappear; but accepting the rest Jesus offers will refresh you and His strength will see you through any trial you are now facing.
Please note as well who it is that gets invited to receive this rest: all you who are weary and burdened. All means all and you means you! This is another of the many examples of the inclusiveness of the heart of Jesus. There are no conditions to meet or parameters to follow; simply come in your brokenness to Him. He will minister His love to your heart, if you will allow Him to.
One last thought (for now) on a balanced diet as prescribed by the Bible: to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3b NIV). We all know that to keep our body running well we need to take in nourishment. The same is true for our spirit. God’s word is sustenance, and just as our physical body needs fuel to keep going, the truth of Scripture will refresh, hone and challenge us to continually grow spiritually.
I hope that these thoughts help you to recognize the spiritual hunger within and that you will allow the Lord to satisfy your longings. He is ever so ready to do so. As for me, just thinking about these things as me hungry for more of what He is serving. Back to the chow line for me. Where was I? That’s right: For God so loved the world . . .