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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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« empty baskets | Main | finding my voice »

come hungry

Admitting I am hungry is not that hard. Seeing my gaping spiritual need for Jesus can be a lot harder.

In John chapter 6, Jesus feeds over 5,000 hungry people who have been following him. He sees the crowd and asks Philip where they could buy some bread for them. Philip is from the area and Jesus asked him this to “stretch his faith.” Philip points out feeding this crowd would cost eight months’ wages.Andrew notices a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish. But says, “That’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

Gaping need. Empty stomachs. Empty baskets. Empty pockets.

You know the story. Jesus has the crowd sit. He takes the loaves and the fish and blesses them. The disciples hand out enough food to fill the stomachs of the crowd, about 5,000 men and the women and children with them. The disciples gathered 12 baskets of leftovers. 

The crowd then kind of stalks Jesus. He slips them a few times. Things heat up when he calls them out saying they only follow because he filled them up with food and for free. He tells them about spiritual food. His body, he says, is the real bread; his blood, the real drink. 

The Jews grow more and more restless as he builds his explanation. They argue. They bicker among themselves. They fight. Many leave Jesus. 

Even the disciples say, “this is a tough teaching, too tough to swallow.” Many disciples leave and never return. 

The people and even the disciples could admit their physical hunger, but the spiritual hunger they could not acknowledge. They resorted to poking all kinds of holes in Jesus’ story. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? How can he say he came down from Heaven and expect anyone to believe him? How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?”

They argued, they bickered, they fought, they fled. 

This is my story. I argue. I bicker. I fight, and I flee. 

I frequently try to assuage my spiritual hunger with things like perfectionism and performance, relationships and food, rescuing and numbing. Every day I have an appetite. What will I choose to fill me? I use things to fill my appetite so I won’t have to see the gaping need, the empty soul-stomach or the empty baskets and pockets. In reality, nothing will fill me but the Body and the Blood. 

Like the disciples, I look for physical resources when only spiritual resources will satisfy my hunger. God wants our physical and material needs to invite us to see soul needs. “The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen.” 

Recently I found myself numb at church. I realized I had been stuffing the wrong things into my soul. With a few words of confession, I asked for the Spirit to fill me. I admitted my spiritual hunger and how many times I turn to other things. 

I felt my appetite return for the things that truly fill and satisfy. “The one who brings a hardy appetite to this eating and drinking will be fit and ready for the Final Day.”

And I opened my hands to receive.

All Scripture is from John 6, The Message.


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