When you're really hungry for more than pound cake

I'm terrible at fasting.  It's the sweets that break me.  The last one that ruined me was during Lent over three years ago.  It came in the form of a thick and buttery almond pound cake.  It permeated the room with its delicious aroma.  I could see the edges of it begging to be torn away, the place where the crunchy meets the gooey.  I liked how it was a little underdone.

I was standing in my mother's kitchen as the weak winter sun reached lazy through the windows.  Specks of matter could be seen floating through the stillness, never settling.  I began to question my reasons for fasting, and I realized how unsettled I was in my wavering determination to not partake of culinary bliss.

My fingers delicately picked at the crispy edge, and brought the temptation closer to my lips.  Now broken, I ate it.  It was delicious.  It satisfied. It met my desire to know how it would taste and fill the inside of me.  I hungered for it, and it filled me.

Food can do that for you.  It can fill those empty places, those unmet desires.  It brings smiles and memories.  It brings happiness and satisfaction.  It fills us for awhile.

And then we get hungry. . . again.

There are needs in our life that can never be satisfied by what can be offered in this world.   These empty pangs moving deep within are longing to be fed.  They are relentless in their pursuit of being satisfied.  We cannot ignore them forever. We cannot fill them, although we try.  We feed them with food or money, sex or success, drugs or distractions.  We find these things ease the pain, until the hunger reminds us that it is not fully satisfied.  We are giving it all of these small gods when there is only one big God who can truly fill the need.

I've been thinking a lot about my own empty places.  God has shown me that while I'm a believer in grace, I have a hard time receiving it.  In my try-hard life, I try to not need it, and when I do, I tell myself that I can't mess up again.  I've placed limits on a limitless God, and in so doing I have taken away the freedom I am meant to have in Christ.  I am imprisoned by my own thoughts, and that's a difficult and lonely place to be.

When the pulpit challenge came to set aside the tasty morsels of life, so that we might hunger more for God, I knew I was desperately ready.  I didn't want pound cake; I wanted God.  Three weeks we set apart, a congregation of people hungering for more of him.  Twenty one days I spent asking God to reveal his plan of grace for me.  I wanted to know something deeper than saving grace, I wanted to own and live the daily gift of it.

I discovered a lot about myself during this time.  I'm beginning to understand my desire for approval and perfection.  I am learning how to say yes to offers of grace, not only from God, but from others.  I have a long way to go, but I'm farther along than I have ever been before.  I am tasting the beauty of freedom.

On the twenty first day, we sat in our gathering place as a body of Christ.  The bread was broken, and offered to us.  I swallowed it thankfully in remembrance of the one who satisfies.


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