I’m not type A. I’m not even type B or C. I’m some sort of strange hybrid that fluctuates between being uptight and particular and relaxed and spontaneous, depending on the situation, my mood, or the amount of chocolate in my system.
This lack-of-type has been evident in the way I approach the daily, personal worship time I spend with God. Some days, I have a wonderfully refreshing time of Bible reading and prayer. Some days, I plod through the reading like a horse trying to finish the last leg of her last race, then fall asleep when trying to pray. Intellectually, this makes sense: how I approach everything varies to this same degree.
But, for some reason, when I have a dry spell spiritually, I tend to overreact. I feel guilty about my lack of enthusiasm. Then, as guilt often does in my life, it discourages me to the point of giving up. I don’t want to be fake, and just go through the motions of spending time with God, but neither do I want to be legalistic about reading a certain number or chapters or praying for a certain amount of time. So I just stop altogether for a while. Then I get discouraged about stopping, and go take ibuprofen for the headache I’ve developed in the process.
Thankfully, I was recently rescued from this crazy cycle by a sermon I heard. The sermon didn’t really say much that was new, but somehow it has refreshed me. The pastor spoke about eating, and said that we eat for two reasons: we’re hungry, or it’s simply mealtime. (I would add a third reason: we eat to feel less bored or lonely or sad – but that’s an entirely different blog post!) His application was obvious: we should feed ourselves spiritually when we’re hungry and also just when it’s time to do so.
As I’ve thought about this over the last few weeks, I’ve found it to be very freeing. No longer does every encounter with God have to be the equivalent of a gourmet meal; I still get nutrition from a protein bar eaten on the go. Some days I don’t feel like eating, but (especially being pregnant), I eat so I don’t pass out or get cranky. How much more do I need spiritual food in order to accomplish the day’s tasks!
Here are my take-aways:
- A snack is better than no meal at all. Reading a verse on my phone or praying at a stop-light is still nourishing.
- Just snacking is not sustainable in the long run. Most days I should be having at least one real spiritual meal.
- If I’m feeling hungry (aka discontented, insecure, grouchy), I should eat something nutritious! I need to recognize that reading my Bible and praying and spending time with other believers are the proteins that will make me feel satisfied. Eating junk food (surfing online or watching TV) will only make me feel temporarily full.
- Some days, I don’t feel hungry. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t eat. Sometimes, I get distracted from my spiritual needs, but I should recognize my need for daily sustenance and expect the emotional fallout that will inevitably take place I don’t stop to eat.
- A long, leisurely meal can be refreshing and reviving. This is true when I date my husband; our relationship is always re-centered and reinvigorated. If I’m starting to feel hungry and find myself feeding on all sorts of junk the world offers, it is time for a feast in the presence of Christ.
The main thing I want to remember in all of this is that if I’m hungry in any way, there is only one thing that can satisfy me, and I need to nourish my soul through delighting in Him alone!
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” Isaiah 55:2 (ESV)