For the last six years one of the challenges faced by Amy and me is getting our now ten year old son to eat. He is a brilliant little man but he has no desire for variety in his diet. Interestingly, when he was very young, he would eat almost anything – from butternut squash to green beans… but something shifted when he was about four years old after his daddy introduced him to something called pizza. From that moment forward, all other food has seemed loathsome to our son. The taste of pizza became the measuring stick by which all other foods are to be judged and there have times when all-out-war has taken place over a plate of grilled chicken and black-eyed peas. Placed by force in front of a plate of home-cooked, healthy goodness, he will weep, eat, gag, weep some more and beg for deliverance from the God who loves him. He has never been rescued by God but his mommy has provided the occasional escape route from the food wars that take place in our home. I usually win the war with him but I have not been able to change the source of the war. What is that source?
My son prefers the immediate reward of tasty pizza over the lasting reward of peas.
“A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.” – Proverbs 27:7
There are two things that drive people’s physical appetites: hunger and taste. Ultimately, if one becomes hungry enough, taste will no longer be the determining factor. The Proverb above highlights this fact and it has a clear spiritual parallel that I would like to emphasize today. If we live with an appetite for the things of God we will feast on those continually and eventually lose our taste for lesser things. Conversely, when we are filled with lesser things, we experience a loss of appetite for the sweetest spiritual treasures. I am tempted to give a long list of examples of lesser things with which we fill our lives, but I am hesitant to get specific here because I do not wish for this to be another exercise in legislating legalistic lists. The truth is that all believers know when we have experienced a diminished appetite for God’s Kingdom. When this loss of hunger occurs, the indicators are clear and they manifest via a backing away. Our bibles go unread. Our prayers remain stifled. Our joy rests like unstirred sediment on the bottom of a stagnant pond. We are unmotivated in service, irregular in our gathering with the Church, and have no zeal towards sacrifice or service. We do not have a desire to tell others about Jesus because, well, we no longer find His Kingdom all that tasty ourselves. Ultimately, our lives are no less busy but far less blessed. I have had a few seasons like that in my own journey. Being filled is something we all pursue but woe unto us when we live out our days being filled with lesser things.
If there is one thing that I am petitioning Father for in these days it is that He will impart a deep, insatiable hunger to His people. I am convinced that staying hungry is the key to intimacy with Jesus. Hungry people eat until they are filled. We sniff out a meal, search out a meal and scarf down a meal when we are driven by hunger. Ravenous people will stop at nothing to ensure they are able to feast. I have been more blessed in my own faith-walk because of personal spiritual hunger than I have from any other motivating force. If we are not hungry, we will not pursue a filling – we will be satisfied way too early with far too little. Thankfully, God will gladly ratchet up your appetite if you ask Him. He will also diminish your appetite for the substitutes that are always at hand for you to gnaw on instead of Kingdom meals. Interestingly enough, in the physical world, if we wean ourselves off of junk-food, we actually lose our tastes for those unhealthy things. The same is true in the Kingdom; if you receive an exchanged appetite you will be led of that appetite to things that bring health to your soul. As the writer of the Proverb above said, you will experience great pleasure in those things for which you once had no taste. But you must be hungry first.
Father, give us your menu this week. Strike from our own meal-plans those things which clog our spiritual arteries, which set up our hearts for debilitating arrhythmia, which rob our faith-lungs of the ability to breathe deeply and which ultimately zap us of Kingdom zeal and intensity. Give us new appetites and compel us as little children who obey Daddy to eat what is placed before us by your wise and nourishing hand. We want to live hungry for you. No substitutes satisfy us. We open our mouths wide and call on You to fill us with good things (Psalm 81:10).