I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
A few nights ago we hung out with some little friends of ours for a couple hours. It was a lot of fun.
I really love children, but sometimes…. I can be a little much for cautious babies. They usually start screaming when I look at them. It’s a gift of mine. Is it too big of a smile? Too much hair? Not sure. But they give me the side eye all day long.
This time started with the usual skepticism. But then! After a dinner of cut grapes and noodles and chicken, the little guy was happy and curious and ready for fun, even when mommy wasn’t around!
I mentioned noticing this to my wife, and she responded with a statement was profound to me, but apparently obvious to an experienced mother.
"Well, he just ate with us. That builds trust. Now he knows that we’ll provide what he needs because he’s experienced it."
This is not a shocker, right? We become more content when we’ve been fed. But here's the interesting thing:
We also become more connected to the one who feeds us.
Consider the reality of a mother bonding with a nursing baby. Consider the memories you have of someone’s home cooking, whether a parent, a grandparent, a close friend, or even a special restaurant that you’ve experienced many times. When you’re fed well, you develop trust and positive connections. And that connection is surprisingly powerful.
When we are dependent children, we rely on parents and caregivers to supply us with food. But as we become more and more independent, the bonding experience can be lost because we start feeding ourselves. And in most ways, that’s a positive thing. But when we think about the hunger of the soul, I think many of us have grown too independent.
The scriptures talk of God as an amazing chef:
You prepare a feast before me...
My soul is satisfied as with the richest of foods...
You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing...
How sweet your words taste to me…
Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst...
I am the bread of life…
If hunger satisfied is trust built, then our greatest spiritual practice may be quite simple: move toward God in times of fear and hunger and emptiness, rather than seek out our own ways of meeting those needs. It sounds simple. But truly sitting with Jesus will always be challenging and countercultural in a fast-paced world.
Are you anxious? Take a walk and invite God to fill your hungry soul.
Are you tempted? Remove yourself for a moment and ask God to meet your needs.
Are you tired? Sit with Jesus and be honest about the things that are emptying you.
Are you discouraged? Reflect on God’s forever faithfulness in the scriptures.
Are you angry? Wait on God to fill your heart with love for the other.
And the impact? When we slow down enough to be present with Jesus, we not only will find contentment and fulfillment, but we will also experience deeper connection with the one who provides good sustenance. Literally, we bond with God. Fear will dissipate. Trust will be built. And the next time you are alone and worried, it will be easier to move toward the One to trust, who can lead you into the journey ahead. This is such good news, because our mechanisms to cope with the stress and pain of life often leave us longing for something more lasting.
On a side note, this trust-building opportunity is also why we need to make sure that not all of our spiritual “food” is coming from another person (a pastor/author/blogger/podcaster). That can be helpful, but a relationship of trust only develops fully when we engage with Jesus personally.
This week, let Jesus speak words of contentment and nourishment to the hungry, fearful, and anxious parts of you. Experience the peace that comes from being filled with the riches of foods.
Jesus, fill me with your spirit and love, so that trust can be built and I can be fully satisfied in you.