Back then it seemed to make about as much sense as going to the grocery store without a wallet. What’s the point? Why would anyone go to God’s house without God’s Word and expect to receive something?
Times have changed.
Today, we go to church and are spoon fed Bible verses on big screens. Bible studies often have the Scriptures printed right there in the margins. Apps give us a daily devotional. We look up and Google verses on our iPhones and iPads.
No need to crack a Book.
These things have made it more convenient. We can get a dose of God on the go. We can digest a little Jesus with our java. I’m not saying that’s all bad.
But I’ll ask some hard, inconvenient questions: Is spending time with God always supposed to be quick and easy? Can my deep need and hunger for God be satisfied with an app or a one-minute devotional?
I think about fast food. Is it quick? Yes. Is it convenient? Sure. But does it really satisfy? Is it really what’s best?
I know a thing or two about food. For a long time now, I’ve been on a very strict medical diet. It’s not just about what I eat. Even the ratios of what I consume have to be carefully calculated.
There is nothing convenient about it. There’s no “eating on the go.” I can’t “grab a quick snack.” Every single meal has to be quality food and takes time and planning. Almost every week I drive to a farmer’s market nearly an hour away to get foods I can’t find locally.
People often ask me in disbelief, “How can you eat that way?!”
My response? “Because I’m sick and I want to get well!”
My nutritionist told me that by sticking to the diet and eating generous amounts of healthy fats and proteins, I would find it very healing and satisfying. She’s right. I am rarely hungry between meals. My body is slowly healing and moving toward wellness.
Feasting takes time and planning. But it slowly heals our minds and souls. It doesn’t leave us hungry.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost … Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. Isaiah 55:1-2
Rich abundance. Delight. True life and peace. That’s what He offers us. Without cost!
But we’re busy after all. And so we settle for picking up our nourishment at the drive thru window.
Pain has a way of making us hungry for God. We realize with a depth of clarity how truly sick we are: physically, emotionally and/or spiritually.
These past two years have been two of the most painful of my parenting and chronic illness journeys.
I’ve been a “good” Christian girl for most of my life. But there were big questions that I had never really settled in my heart: Did God truly love me? Was He really trustworthy?
I secretly and often questioned the depth of His love for me when I cried out in pain and agony and He remained silent. I fought exhausting invisible battles with doubt and anxiety.
I was and am sick in so many ways. We all are.
I had read lots of other people’s inspiring experiences, done and led dozens of Bible studies. Those things are all helpful. God has used them in my life greatly.
But I came to a place where I was hungry for more than that: I wanted to get well. Not just physically, but spiritually. Those big nagging questions needed answers. And they could only be found with a deliberate, intentional, personal study of God’s Word.
True study is not a “drive thru” experience. According to Merriam Webster, study is “a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation.”
My last book, Invisible Wounds: Hope While You’re Hurting, was the fruit of that study.
Since then, God is taking me deeper still. Over the years, I’ve had periods where I’ve felt extraordinarily close to God.
But this is different.
What God has brought me to is a place of complete dependence on Him. Of being bold enough to not know where He’s leading me, but trusting that He’ll give me what I need step by step. Of laying down my dreams (some I’ve had since I was a little girl) and saying, “I only want what You want.”
It has been painful and scary. I have to ask Him a hundred times a day (at least) to help me stay in this place. But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? Allowing Him to empower us and guide us, moment by moment? That’s what I’ve been missing all these years of being a “good” Christian girl.
The doubt and anxiety? Instead of familiar “friends,” they are becoming infrequent visitors.
The things that I used to hunger and strive for? I just don’t have much appetite for them anymore. Sure, sometimes I’m tempted. But then I remember: They don’t satisfy. Only He does.
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get to this place. I still read my devotionals and Bible studies. But then I sit quietly with the Bible. The real physical Bible. Not the one trapped in my iPhone or laptop.
As I have just sat with the totality of God’s Word day after day, He has led me through its pages. I haven’t rushed. I’ve feasted. I’ve waited in silence for Him to speak.
And He’s overwhelmed me. Sometimes I feel like He’s given me so much to digest I have to walk away from the table! He’s made connections, illuminated verses, healed old wounds, changed my perspective. But He’s done so much more: He has revealed His love and sweetness to me in incredibly personal ways. I know more of who He is. That is what satisfies!
I’ve realized that God has often “disappointed” me because my view of who He really is has often been so superficial and faulty.
I’ve wanted all the benefits He offers without the submission and feasting that is required to truly experience them.
We take supplements to enhance our diet. We would never take them in place of our food. We’d die. Apps, devotionals, studies and big screen Bible verses are all good supplements to the deep, personal relationship we are pursuing with Him. We die spiritually when we try to exist on them instead of the feast God provides.
Come to the table, friend. He’s waiting to feed you.