It’s 11:49PM and I am awake…ok that’s pushing it…I’m awake enough to not be asleep and I’ve gotten annoyed. I went to bed before 10 and tossed and turned. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Nasal passages clear? Yes. Teeth brushed? Check! Blankets and bedding ok? Yup. Then my stomach rumbled and I realized I had stomach acid rolling around — I was hungry! I hadn’t eaten much at all today and now, once I realized that fact, I had to get up, get dressed, walk downstairs in my groggy state and root around for something to eat. So, currently I am munching on a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios pondering the deeper spiritual life…because that’s how you get back to sleep. NOT! ?
It got me thinking though — is it possible to experience a spiritual form of “hangry”? Hangry is a term I am sure most are familiar with — it describes in one word what happens when someone is so hungry they have a short fuse and easily get angry thus, they get “hangry.” When my wife and I go shopping we try to keep aware of whether or not we have eaten while we day-trip around town. When one of us begins to show signs of getting snippy, we pause and reflect when we ate last and what we ate. Often times we are simply hangry. I think people experience this in their spiritual life — I think I DO! I find myself getting frustrated with people and God — there is an unsettledness and discontent with my spiritual walk and I start becoming cynical or critical. There is little to no satisfaction to be had and the reason is…I haven’t had anything to eat in a while — I haven’t fed on the Word of God. I find it fascinating how much our spiritual health is related to eating in scriptures. Here are just a few small examples:
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15)
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. (Isaiah 55:1-2)
I absolutely love those verses in Isaiah especially when I consider who is the richest of food that satisfies — Jesus. In John 6, Jesus says several times that he is the bread of life. This is not redundant…he is making a powerful point!
Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:32-35)
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:47-51)
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)
When we eat empty calories to feed our spiritual life we end up frustrated and hangry. When we seek out fast food options and alternative menu choices we end up unfulfilled. Jesus states that he is THE most fulfilling meal anyone could ever eat! What’s really interesting is that immediately following this conversation in John 6 Jesus loses a massive amount of followers…
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” (John 6:66-68)
My bowl of Cheerios is now empty…I’m considering an apple…but I am feeling much better. It’s how my spirit feels when I have taken proper time to “feed on Christ.” When I, like the Psalmist, eat the Word of God that is as sweet as honey. When I drink from the Living Water and eat from the Bread of Life, my satisfaction level rises and my spiritual emotions calm. I can see and think more clearly. I can work more effectively and have more energy. My outlook is more positive with hope and my inner spirit is more calm with peace. There are days when I go go go go go and forget to eat and by the end of the day I am so tired and groggy and I wonder why on earth I never took time to eat! The same goes with my spiritual body…I can get busy and get caught up responding to demands that crop up during the day and by the end of the day I wonder why I feel so empty inside…feeling like there must be more. Because there IS more…I just haven’t “dined” in a while.
We are a funny culture — I think we are actually obsessed with food. There are “foodies” out there and our grocery stores have a massive variety of food items you can stuff in your mouth — from junk food to the organic non-GMO grass-fed, we have numerous choices on what we can eat. And we DO eat. We eat for stress, we eat for boredom, we eat for pleasure, we eat for our health and we eat to survive. Every time I sit down to eat one of my God-given three square meals the first thing I do is bow my head and thank God for the food that keeps me alive….Just sitting here typing that I realize how dumb I really am…Seriously…is FOOD what gives me life? It may keep my body going (and overweight) but do I really believe that food is my life-giver?
Jesus when he was being tempted Satan was quite hungry. Having been in the wilderness for 40 days and nights without anything to eat has brought his physical body to a place where it is really needing food possibly even craving it. So Satan, ever the practical and helpful fellow that he is, tells Jesus to turn the stones into bread. It’s actually a great idea since Jesus IS hungry. And Jesus responds,
“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4)
The reason I feel really dumb is I realized how often I prioritize eating and thank God for my food but I rarely take into account that to truly have life I need to take time to abide in Christ and draw nutrients from the Vine. Why prioritize bread alone and neglect the words that come from the mouth of God? If I truly desire the deeper life — if I truly desire a fulfilling life — a life of power — a life pleasing to God…I need to stop and eat and eat often…communing with Christ.
Jesus, I need you, every moment I need you. Hear now this grace-bought heart sing out your praise forever!
Lord Jesus, please forgive us when we rush out the door to begin our day without communing with you. Forgive us for how we prioritize the temporal over the eternal…the physical over the spiritual! We rely so heavily on earthly food for our physical body while we often neglect heavenly food for our spiritual body. Lord, be our Banquet— be our Feast! May we delight ourselves in you and find fulfillment. May you be sweet and filling for our souls. May you empower us to live NON-hangry lives so that people see us as transformed joyful new creations. Bring our minds back to you when we find ourselves listless and spiritually tossing and turning — remind us when we are spiritually hungry that you have prepared a table for us. We cannot live on bread alone — help us to crave every word that comes from the mouth of God. Amen.
Jesus, I Need You (Hillsong)
Hope be my anthem — Lord when the world has fallen quiet
You stand beside me — Give me a song in the night
And Jesus I need You, Every moment I need You
Hear now this grace bought heart sing out — Your praise forever
Beauty for ashes — You find the weak and contrite heart
Shoulder its burdens — And carry it into the light
Remember love — Remember mercy
Christ before me — Christ behind me
Your loving kindness — Has never failed me
Christ before me — Christ behind me