“I was starving for You, not Your works.” – Augustine
That described me to a tee. Unfortunately, I had no clue that I was there. I was scavenging through life’s pantry just searching for something–really anything that might satisfy. Popularity and relationships suppressed my hunger for a time; certain academic achievements and athletic accomplishments along the way were helpful in disguising the real appetite that lay beneath. And though I had never really claimed great wealth before, I had enjoyed plenty of toys and trinkets to know that they too would fall short of filling my deepest craving.
So I visited the religious market. I snacked on the smorgasbord of self-righteousness and tried the diets of the devout. And though I appeared to be well fed on the things pertaining to life and godliness, I had hunger pangs for more than I had yet tasted. Despite my ability to emulate His people, I missed the point. That is to say, I missed Him. I was intently skimming the Master’s menu, when what I needed was the Master Chef Himself.
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Pascal’s declaration from centuries earlier finally resonated within my soul, and by God’s grace, I finally observed the bread of life broken for me (John 6:35, John 6:47-51, Luke 22:19). The famine had lifted and the never-ending banquet had commenced.
Knowledge of God was no longer mere hearsay; I was experiencing his glorious riches firsthand. Like the Samaritans to the woman in John 4:42, it was no longer because of the words of others that I believed; no, I had personally encountered the love of our merciful Savior. He alone had filled my inner void. Yes, He was what I had been longing for the whole time. Though I’m convinced of this, I still find there’s a struggle.
See even though I’ve tasted the Lord’s goodness, my feeble heart is prone to forget. Unless I’m reminded of the gospel and propelled by it to pursue time at His table, I am easily tempted to dine at the empty pubs of personal gain. Occasionally I’ll even look to some of His best gifts, seeking fulfillment from them, instead of Him – even though I know it is He alone that provides. I love being husband to Brittany and daddy to Brooks, Chan, and Mati. I cannot believe that God would allow me to steward such treasures. I’m also blown away that God would call me to preach and pastor as an instrument of righteousness in the work He is doing. Yet, if I seek to be filled solely by the various roles I play, I will starve. If I savor any of those titles above my precious position as child of the King, I do so in error. For since Christ alone sustains, there is no substitute for Him! His richest blessings, be it family, friends, or whatever, are given to whet our appetite for more of Him – they beckon us back to His table.
Friend, the soul desperately desires a feast that neither you, nor I, nor the sum total of our many cupboards can satisfy. Might our spiritual stomach seek the Savior for every ounce of our sustenance. May we hunger for and delight in His goodness…and might we be reminded that He continues to graciously direct others to His precious banquet hall. Oh, may His Spirit draw all who are far off near that they might taste and see that He is good (Psalm 34:8)!
Father, help us to sense our dire, needy state, and inflict upon us struggle, even starvation if necessary, ‘til none but Your will and glory, be left upon our plate…
|Matt Fowler - NBC Family Pastor of High School|