Longing for God: How to Satisfy the Hunger for Intimacy
Have you ever been so busy that by mid-afternoon that you notice your stomach growling as you realize you completely skipped lunch? It's too late to have lunch as you wouldn't want to ruin your appetite for family dinner. So, instead of trying to grab a whole meal at 3:30 pm, you decide on a quick snack - perhaps a bag of chips or candy bar - to take the edge off the hunger and hold you over until dinner.
Okay, J, where are you going with this?
Well, think of that mid-afternoon hunger as the space in our soul that hungers for God. Notice how often we fill our lives with spiritual snacks - things like friends, movies, shopping, even work. These are good things, and completely innocent things, until they begin to curve our hunger for God.
I don't know about you, but I constantly find myself having to fight the tendency to fill the God-shaped hole that He created in my heart with the fleeting things of this world.
Naturally, we do not like loneliness. After all, we were created for relationship! So, we fill the quiet spaces with social media, phone calls, and other social events and gatherings. We fill the silence, even with good things, like Christian music and the evening news.
But we must also remember that we were designed to be close to God, not close to the world.
We were created for relationship with HIM, not with the television or neighbor down the street. Earthly relationships are good things, very good things - but not when they begin to take the place of God in our lives, curbing our appetite for Him.
You see, loneliness can be God's call to friendship with Him. Just as our bodies hunger for food, our spirits hunger for His presence. But just as it is impossible to truly nourish our bodies with the empty calories of chips or candy bars, we cannot truly satisfy our spiritual cravings without really getting the nourishment we need.
If you're having trouble feeling close to God, or longing to draw closer, try considering what activities you have been using to fill the empty and quiet places in your life. What is curbing your appetite for Him? Or perhaps you simply need to begin "eating" the good things of the Lord to find out how spiritually hungry you really are.
The difference between physical hunger and spiritual hunger is that with physical hunger, we can eat until we are full. But with spiritual hunger, we can never be "full". As we feast at His table, we get hungrier. We want more, we have to have more of Him! There are no limits to our spiritual capacity. We can always open ourselves to hold more and more of His sweet goodness.
Psalm 34:8 proclaims, "Taste and see that the Lord is good!"
As we taste sweet intimacy with Jesus, nothing else will satisfy. Even salty snacks and sweet desserts flop in comparison to the delight of the Lord's presence. As we grow in intimacy with Him, we begin to see the spiritual benefits and joy that fill our lives, and so we eat. We eat of His fullness, growing closer to His love and desiring more of His heart. When you've tried the best of the best, you'll be willing to skip the junk food this world offers in order to have a soul-sanctifying, nourishing feast with Jesus.
Here's the catch - in order to taste intimacy with the Savior, in order to satisfy our hunger, we must make room for the Savior. Is your heart Christ's home? Or do you do quiet time like clockwork, proudly checking off the passages you've memorized and books you've read through?
Have you thought about what devotion truly is?
It is not a duty, it is a delight. It is not an exercise in piety, it is a privilege. It is not a visit, but a homecoming.
The remarkable thing about Christ is that when He will actually enter into our hearts and dwell within us when we let Him. The truth about devotions is that even when we are spiritually absent, or fail to show up to spend time with the Lord, He is faithful despite our faithfulness.
Do you want to know the reason why?
The reason is because although we often begin to think that quiet time, Bible study, and prayer time, are factors in our own spiritual progress. In reality, though, the time we spend with the Lord means something to Him, also!
Christ wants to spend quality time with me. He looks forward to our time together and misses me when I fail to show up. This perspective transforms the idea of devotional time - it is not a ritual, but a relationship.
The place at the feet of Jesus is a place of transparency and vulnerability, where we are completely known and completely loved. It's truly home for our wandering souls. If we love Him and obey Him, Jesus will actually come live and dwell within us (John 14:23). We can make our home in Him, too.
Take John 15:4 which reads, "Remain in Me and I will remain in you."
Jesus came to show us the way to the Father's house. Instead of making a once a year visit to the Holy of Holies, we are invited to unpack, settle in, and dwell there for eternity.
In John 15:5, Jesus gives a clear example of what it means to remain in Him:
"I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing."
All of our constant doing, striving, and working will never accomplish what Jesus can when we let Him have His way in our life. But this requires being rooted in Him - connected to Him. It's not enough to simply be associated or acquainted, to put "Christian" as our religious status on Facebook or sign up to volunteer because that's what Christian people "do".
We have to be spiritually grafted on - to draw our life from Him, to be so closely attached that we would rather wither and die if we were cut off. We have to taste of the intimacy of God, enter into His presence, and draw our life from His nourishment.
We can waste so much time concentrating on the "fruit" of our own spiritual holiness that we miss out on the connection and intimacy of being attached to the Vine - the Life Source.
As a result, we try to do things as silly as a branch lying on the ground trying to produce it's own apples. "Be good, do good, keep trying," the broken branch tells itself as it lies in the grass, "the apple should be budding any time now!"
But it doesn't. Just like the branch on the ground. without being grafted onto the Tree, tasting of His goodness, life, and nourishment, we are helpless and lifeless sticks. The Tree is Jesus, the life source. As branches, we have no power of our own. But when we are connected, our leaves grow and we bear bountiful fruit.
And we don't have to do anything - except abide.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!