“Hunger is a wonderful thing … it gives us life. It’s the body built-in alarm that it’s time to eat. Hunger is what makes eating a pleasure. Without it, we could easily forget to eat; we might even starve to death.”
Dr. Paul Brand, The Forever Feast
When I was a young woman, someone remarked to me that no real spiritual growth could occur without a hunger for God. At that time, in my early thirties, I realized I wasn’t hungry—not for God, at any rate. And I was intellectually honest enough to know that this lack of desire, this nonchalant Christianity minus longing, put my soul in a precarious place.
So I began to pray, “Lord, give me hunger—”
Now at 67 years of age, I agree with that anonymous adviser from my past: Spiritual growth boils down to discovering a hunger so intense it propels us past our human ennui. We must become like infants howling for the breast. That kind of hunger is overwhelming. So must be the hunger that we seek, a starvation for God.
The American church suffers from information overload. So many spiritual resources are available to us, it’s like forced feedings. My father once tried to spoon oatmeal down me at the breakfast table. I did what any child would do: I resorted to a strategic defense. I vomited up the oatmeal.
We of the Western church are in a regurgitation mode, and none of the nutrients are reaching our souls. The big idea behind my ministry, Hungry Souls, is to take one growth emphasis, and slowly, slowly, over the course of a whole year, walk around it, touch it gingerly, kick it with a toe, push it, lean against it, decide it is safe, nestle into it and finally become hidden by it.
Growth, applied understanding, doesn’t happen overnight. It must be tenderly nourished. Truth must be heard over and over again. It must be tasted, tested, rolled on the tongue, chewed, then swallowed. And then it must be applied—absorbed into the blood.
We have to learn what it is to be spiritually hungry—really hungry. We have to challenge ourselves to consider for what we are truly starving. We have to shake ourselves and ask: Am I really hungry for God? Or am I longing for some replacement for God? Then we need to pray to develop an authentic craving, a soul-addiction that cannot be satisfied by any sugar substitutes. We have to become replete with soul fatness, to learn how to suck out the marrow of God’s nutrients.
And we must find companions to make their way with us to that feast. Intriguingly, the word companion comes from the Latin cum, meaning “with,” and panis, meaning “bread.” We want to be with companions at this Table. And we want to do more. We want to become hungry ourselves again; we want to dine; we want to rest satisfied, having fed richly at His Royal Spread.
Your Christian Blogger,
“Lord, give me a hunger for yourself that cannot be sated by any other human thing.”
Other projects involving Karen right now are: Working with teams of Christian women to design Retreats of Silence, in both 24-hours and three-days formats, through the aegis of Hungry Souls. Developing hospitality initiatives that train Christian men and women how to use their own homes in caring outreaches through the Open Heart, Open Home ministries. Launching the Global Bag Project, a worldwide effort that markets sustainable cloth shopping bags to provide sustainable incomes for bag-makers in developing nations. Researching the impact of listening groups while overseeing some 240 small groups over the last three years. Experimenting with teleconference mentoring for wannabe (…better) writers. Designing the Tales of the Kingdom Web site.