This past few weeks has been a time where the Spirit has really poured into me. I have been overwhelmed by His goodness in revealing so many beautiful truths! This has actually made blogging about it kind of hard! I have like 6 drafts of things I so badly want to write about! It was hard to figure out where to dive in next. I figured this was a great place to start since really the Lord has been feeding my soul, my spirit, my life in abundance lately!
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."
Naturally, this is going to lead to a larger food analogy, as hinted in my intro, but first I want to lay some groundwork to understand how weighty this statement is from Jesus: God created us with intention. It's simple truth. Why did God create us? He created us to know Him, it's in our design to have a relationship with Him. Now God did not create us to know Him because He lacked anything and needed something from us (like to feel loved or to gain confidence, feel good about Himself). No...He designed us to know Him because He is good - and in His goodness, He wanted to give us joy by knowing a perfect, holy God. We see it in Moses' account of creation: in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were in His presence, in relationship with God. Then...the fall (don't you hate it when one ruins it for the rest of us ;) )...From this moment forward, we are separated from God as sinners.
So, due to this whole fiasco, we have a God-shaped hole in our heart that can only be filled with a real relationship with Him while we wait for Jesus to come again or for our last breath when we go to heaven. In a real relationship with God is where we find the fullness of joy. It was how we were designed to be truly happy, and remains to be the case. Because of the fall, and the brokenness we walk in, we lean on ourselves, others and this world in our striving to fill this hole that is impossible to fill without Jesus. There are things in this world that can momentarily give us elation, momentarily "feed" a desire in us, but they fall right through leaving us without substance.
Even if we don't know what we are hungry for, or realize we are hungry at all, the truth is we have a hunger - rather we are starving - for the very thing we were created to have: a saving faith in Jesus Christ which is the one way to our true Heavenly Father. Outside of that, we are malnourished:
Atheism (complete and utter starvation): Living without even a crumb to fill that hunger. The tough thing is that when someone is living without knowing God, and seeking things in that 180 degree direction, it is hard - even impossible - for them to notice they are even hungry. And if they do, it is often misplaced onto worldly things. Living out of step with the Father's design and will creates turmoil and emptiness (inside for sure - even if it isn't evident on the outside).
Seeking fulfillment in other religions (junk food diet): Someone who is Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, etc. etc. have recognized that spiritually we are hungry, and it sure tastes good to pray, worship, seek a god...but they are filling their soul with junk food. It gives a taste of what it means to seek God, but it is not sustaining because it's done in vain without Christ. Christianity is the only relationship with the Lord where we are accepted. Forgiven. Loved unconditionally without being lovable first. Other religions encompass individuals trying, striving, climbing an impossible hill to tilt the scales toward 51% "good" to please a god who is never satisfied. These snickers bars don't give life. They fool us into thinking we can do it on our own somehow - we have done something to earn affection - and into a false relationship with a god who requires "works" from us for any sort of way into His presence. **My husband was actually listening to a sermon on Family Talk recently and they explained it as all other religions are "do"...do this to get favor, do this to get into heaven. Christianity is "done". It was done for us; all we are asked is to believe.**
Double-minded believism (appetizer portion only): Nutritional? It can be, but just enough to hold us off for the next little bite. Simply believing, but not fully surrendering to follow Christ, can do wonders for your heart...your heart will sing with joy when given those crumbs. And there is a taste of joy in brief moments. But without committing to the whole meal: without committing to following the Father's will for us, we won't ever find the fullness of joy we are made to have. Instead, we are straddling the world and our call; holding on to the parts of the world that feel comfortable, but pull us away from our true purpose. We aren't getting the full meal with the nutrients to grow our muscles and truly use the gifts (He has given us) to their full potential. Imagine the gifts we have identified already; now magnify those when the Holy Spirit is driving those to maturity. Can't imagine it? We aren't supposed to be able to. But I can tell you this; He can do more with our gifts than we could ever even think possible.
For majority of my life, I was living somewhere between atheism (not full-fledged disbelief, but for sure living, in a lot of ways, 180 degrees from the Lord) and two-minded believism. I thought I was a Christian and did some things that gave me a taste of the bread of life. Once I realized how starving I was, though, I realized how far I was from thriving. I thank Jesus every day for stepping in. Chasing me down and softening this heart. So much so, that I stopped: stopped striving in vain, trying to do this life in my own strength; And I started: started living with true hope and actually thriving. I am not perfect - in my walk with the Lord, my step towards holiness, my relationships here on earth, but I do know I am headed in the right direction because I'm not driving anymore.
So how do we truly thrive on the Father's perfect provision of His daily bread? In the brilliant words of Matthew West: Go "all in. Headfirst into the deep end." This means immerse yourself. Don't straddle the line; don't refuse to get your hair wet. Here are two things that have transformed my walk with the Lord:
I delight in spending time in His word - what a gift! He gave us a love letter so that we could know how incredible our Creator is! And it tells us exactly what He wants for us. It's living truth that is relevant and personal, ready to speak to us.
I pray for my heart to align with His will for me; I trust He has perfect plans for me (scripture says our good works were chosen before the beginning of time). I also pray over my kids and my husband for their hearts to be tugged toward the Lord continuously, for their own sake, but also they are encouragement for my daily walk; watching their love for the Lord grow.
I live life with other believers.
Being in close, honest community with others who can speak truth into my life has been a huge blessing to me. And the Lord is gracious in using me to speak truth to others as well. Church is great - it is awesome! It is a time we can all get together and worship and know Him...but what do we walk into after that 90 minutes is over? Into a broken world full of evil, hatred and broken people who want to hate the Lord. Community fights this war with you. God has always been in community with Himself (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). As we are in His image, as we are meant to be in community as well.
I think if there is any takeaway, it is this: sometimes we are so lost that we don't know we need to be found; sometimes we are so incredibly malnourished that we don't know what food we need. I encourage you to turn to Jesus...over and over. He's there, waiting and He will not leave you hungry.