Friday, 15 October 2010
Hunger Gone Wrong
Let me state the obvious. Not all our appetites are good. Sometimes we’re hungry for the wrong thing. We reach for the open bag of potato chips at 5 pm and spoil our appetite for dinner. Or worse.
During my teen years I didn’t just have a taste for potato chips and M & M’s, I developed an appetite for achievement. I had begged my parents to let me switch from my sheltered church school to the large public high school. After checking it out thoroughly they consented, but with a few stipulations. “You have to take your school work seriously. We expect you to keep up your grades and stay on track for college.”
I did what I was told and pleased them by performing well. But the truth was, the more I filled myself up with achievement, the more I craved it. Before long I was addicted to success and the kudos that accompanied it. Behind my good grades and “good girl” smile was a girl driven by an insatiable hunger for praise from people.
What do I do with my hunger now?
One thesis of this blog is that God created us hungry so he could feed us. Our hunger is meant to bring us to him. But our cravings seem to drive us in the opposite direction. Whether we crave fame and fortune or comfort and clothes, we begin to live at the mercy of our appetite.
We feel moody. We get demanding. We pick fights. We obsess over what we don’t have. We grumble, complain, envy, compare. That’s the dynamic James addresses in his New Testament letter:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? James 4:1
Unfiltered cravings always go public and cause problems. Acting out of our appetites can be dangerous.
Don’t Fix it. Don’t Hide it.
What options are left to us? God wants to feed us, yet we couldn’t care less about the food he’s offering. Are we supposed to clean up our act before we come to God for food? Or do we just shove our unruly cravings back under the surface of our lives and sit politely at his table, pretending to eat?
The fact is we are far too weak to accomplish either of those options. Our problem is that we don’t know it. We think we can solve our problems and then come to God for a pat on the head. “Look, what a good girl am I!” He doesn’t want us to try to be a good child, he wants us to simply come as a child.
Imagine your toddler finding your sewing scissors in a corner behind the couch. What would you want him to do? Play with them? Of course not. Hide them? Not good either. Try to put them back on the shelf? He’d probably fall. No, you’d want him to bring them to you. That’s the safest thing.
God doesn’t want us to act on our cravings or to try to deal with them ourselves. He wants us to bring them to him. That’s the childlike thing to do. How should we come to him? Not through prayer. I’m serious–at least not first through prayer. Why? Because
- Prayer is where we do the talking.
- Prayer can get reduced to asking.
- Prayer can end up being a chance to verbalize our cravings.
James puts it this way,
We have not because we ask not. We ask, but don’t receive because we ask with wrong motives. James 4:2-3
No, the first place to bring our cravings to God is to come to his word. Bringing our hungers–healthy and unhealthy–to him there is safe because:
- His word is where he does the talking.
- His word is where we listen to his heart.
- His word is where he will tell you about his longings, his jealous love for you.
James tells us that,
“He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.” James 4:5
In the face of his fierce, holy love, our cravings bring to look like the junk they really are. We finally see them clearly and cry out for help. He answers, rescuing both us and our appetites.
So bring it to him. Yourself. Your cravings. Let him rescue your hunger and restore your childlike appetite for him.