Frequently I come to the end of a worship gathering, or time in personal prayer, or study of the Scripture with a sense that ‘’there is more.” I remain unsatisfied. Is this normal? Is there some failure on my part that causes me to be hungry still? Haven’t I heard it said a thousand times that Jesus will satisfy your soul? But, what exactly am I looking for? What actually is that satisfaction that I desire?
If my longing is to know God, then on this side of eternity, while still clothed in the limitations of this temporal body, I cannot know the Infinite, Eternal One completely. Thus, my hunger is not necessarily an indicator of my failure, but of the whispered invitation of the Spirit to lean in to know Him better, praying “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.”
Amy Simpson, in an article published in Christianity Today (Jan/Feb. 2018), offers these provocative thoughts. “When we come to Christ expecting satisfaction, we inadvertently approach him as if he is the answer to both our natural appetites and our consumeristic desires. Rather than ask him to transform our desires, we expect him to take them away or morph himself into the solution we’re wanting. We approach him as either a product or a solution. And God is neither.”
We love Jesus’ promise of abundant life (John 10:10), and we should, but we must give deeper thought to what He offers. Some of the pulpit rhetoric unintentionally sells us a half-truth, implying He is going to make us happy, solve every dilemma in our lives, if we love Him enough. I grew up singing this deceptively simple little chorus:
Christ is the answer to all my longing,
Christ is the answer to all my need,
Savior, Baptizer, the Great Physician,
O, Hallelujah, He’s all I need.
It is comforting, isn’t it? The words imply that there is a state to which I can aspire where every conflict is resolved, every temptation erased, every ‘longing’ satisfied in Him. Yes, there is a settled peace that every disciple finds in the assurance of eternal life. Yet, we hunger still, and that hunger continues to draw us back to the pursuit of the Holy. Simpson writes “Christ does far more than make our lives completely fulfilling. Repentance and redemption are more than transactional requirements for a good life. God is far greater than a quick fix, and his ultimate plan for re-creation and redemption is not a mere afterthought to a happy life. In some ways, a relationship with Christ intensifies our longings as God shapes them into visions of what he wants us to desire.” God does not want us bored with Him. He remains Mystery, and only at the Throne will all our longings be perfected and thus, satisfied!
What of Jesus’ words that tell us “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6, NIV)? We do find reconciliation with God through the Cross and that sense we are satisfied, but if we’re authentic, we will acknowledge that there are places in our lives that remain resistant to His will, and thus we hunger still for complete righteousness. We will be ‘filled’ when the Kingdom comes in fullness!
Simpson points to Paul’s statement as evidence that even the Spirit-filled apostle, though intimate with Christ, still hungered to know Christ fully. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” he wrote (Phil. 1:21). Paul knew his ministry was important, yet people who are satisfied by the life they lead don’t wish for death. In his letter to the Romans, Paul is frank about our awkward position in this life, sometimes called the “now and not yet.”
Listen to the longing in these words. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:10-12, NIV)
Disciple, if you find yourself hungry still – don’t despair. Instead press on to know Him more. And keep your mind and heart set on the “the glory He will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.” (Romans 8:18-19, NLT)
Here is a word from the Word. May it encourage you to seek the face of the Father, to remain focused even when your hunger is not fully satisfied.
“The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:18-25, NIV)
Oh lead me
To the place where I can find You
Oh lead me
To the place where You’ll be
Lead me to the cross
Where we first met
Draw me to my knees
So we can talk
Let me feel Your breath
Let me know
You’re here with me
Martin Smith © 1994 Curious? Music UK (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055