Spiritual Hunger

Newborn Hunger

Most babies need 8 to 10 feedings per day, or even more during a growth spurt. Reminds me of my days as a newborn believer in Christ, forty-nine years ago. My spiritual hunger was off the charts! The Bible was alive and vibrant, I loved to worship, and I found a new family with like-minded values and a Christ-centered focus. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. 1 Pet. 2:2-3 (NLT) 

Spiritual hunger, my “God-craving”, was exciting and extremely fulfilling. The joy of new discoveries motivated me to continue in pursuit of God. An important question: How do I maintain spiritual hunger as I navigate the ebbs and flows of life? Trials, temptations, life transitions, all pose a challenge to my spiritual appetite.

 

Appetite Good?

Sounds like a question your doctor might ask at your physical, right? We all know what it feels like to be hungry. If we haven’t eaten all day we might be prone to say I’m starving, as we contemplate what we can cook or scope out the takeout menu at a favorite restaurant. If your stomach was talking, it would identify the influence of the “hunger hormone”, ghrelin (not a spelling error). This gut hormone sends a message to your brain, that nourishment is desired.

On the flip side, we have the hormone leptin. It’s contribution: provides the sensation of feeling full and sends that message to the brain. That’s where you lean back and say, I’m stuffed. (When my grand-kids say they’re full, I often ask if they saved room for dessert. You know the answer to that question.) Thus our physical hunger is regulated. What application can we make in regards to spiritual hunger? Are there hormones at work and are we receiving the messages?

 

Growth Spurts

These are easy to observe and monitor in the physical realm. The first two years in a newborn’s life, preteen and teen years, then capping off pretty much by the age of eighteen. In the spiritual arena, there are many variables that come into play. I think there is an expectation and plan in God’s heart that every single follower of Christ is to experience unending discovery. And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18 (AMP)

I thought I knew what pleasure was, until I was born again into the kingdom of God. Drinking from God’s river of delights (pleasure) was, and still is, a transcendent experience. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. Ps. 36:8-9 “Delights” is the Hebrew word “adan” and is used five times in the Old Testament. It describes luxurious nourishment from God. Why would I possibly NOT want to partake of this and experience more spiritual growth?
As I’m sure you’ve discovered, there are obstacles on the path of consistency in our spiritual hunger. Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. 1 Cor. 3:1-3
To those whom Paul was addressing: character growth was abated; menu options were limited.

 

Spiritual Hormone

One of my favorite Bible passages is Psalm 84.  How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Ps. 84:1-2 As a new Christian, this was my new normal. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. Ps. 73:25 The contrast was so stark, between the life I was living and my new life in Christ, that it felt like my spiritual hunger would always reside at a high level. But alas, the challenging seasons make their way into the fabric of our spiritual journey.

The spiritual hormone that triggers appetite and sends a message that you need spiritual nourishment, more often than not, comes via hardship, suffering, life transitions of various kinds. The inference here is that when everything is going smooth in my life, I have a lesser need to prioritize time with the Lord.

I learned two primary passages early on to help me navigate this process. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Rom. 5:2-5

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Jas. 1:2-4

 

Hungry for God

I am currently in a season of transition that I did not plan for. At the age of seventy, I am launching into a new career path; officially “self-employed” after an abrupt ending to my last ministry job of seventeen years, and now responsible for every facet of our ministry. I have battled depression, anger, and a swirl of other emotions. God has miraculously provided financially for us, providing time for me to seek His face, spend time in the Word, and listen to His heart for our future plans. This unpleasant trial has led me on a new path to His river of delights.

Years ago there was a well known worship song with these lyrics: Hungry I come to You for I know You satisfy. The condition of the singer’s heart is described as hungry, empty, broken, weary. Truth be told, I love the good times and I’m not a huge fan of change. However, as I recollect my spiritual journey of nearly fifty years, I can honestly say that the condition of being driven in desperation to seek and discover God afresh, has been a consistent, reliable friend.

 

Focus

It really boils down to a matter of discernment for the season that you’re in. It may be a day, a week, a month, or a year even! Prayerfully inquire if you’ve lost your focus. Have your spiritual disciplines waned? Are you reading the Scripture, taking time for stillness, fasting every now and then? Being focused is aiming your attention and concentration upon something. It’s usually fairly straightforward whether or not focus is the issue. It’s also needful for us to clarify that what we perceive as spiritual boredom is not all bad. Unabated feelings of excitement is not anyone’s norm. In reality, a skewed view of what excitement is, makes us vulnerable to thinking that we have a dull and boring life or marriage.

There are ebbs and flows to our union with Christ and I have concluded that my need to exert effort in staying focused is coupled with God’s choices on how best to increase my hunger for Him. Spiritual boredom in my world, may be one of the most exciting prospects in God’s world, for the advancement of His kingdom in my life. The glory of never ending ascension into new spiritual heights requires the grace to begin from what may be a humble and lowly starting place.

This is the road most traveled in the Christian journey – all things becoming new, again. 

 

 

 

 

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