Have you ever noticed how much better food tastes when you are hungry? It looks better, it smells better, and when the time for consumption draws near, your whole being prepares to take it in.
Alan Smith and I spent the last few days with some very hungry people. Their lives and their ministries were at a point of growing frustration. In the words of one of them, “We could really help people and they would stay helped for two weeks, and then everything would go back to the way it was.”
When they showed up for our time together, they were starving. They took every morsel and got the maximum pleasure and sustenance from it. The setting was a teachers dream. Every word from our mouths was savored, processed, and applied in deep, life changing ways. You could smell eternity in the room.
I think several factors had made them hungry.
1. They had faced hardship just to choose Kingdom lives: Nothing about the Gospel was socially easy or convenient for them.
2. They were already practicing the gospel: The Gospel is something you do not something you study. They were already out there doing things, and therefore had immediate application for what they heard.
3. They were tired, and needed rest: need I say more? Jesus said something about those who are tired and come to Him.
4. They lived and understood they Gospel as a communal reality: They were part of a family and they knew it. This was no institution they were serving.
The atmosphere in this setting exploded in transformed hearts. Their appetite for transformational truth that translated into action was compelling. We in the USA live in an atmosphere that we would call religious freedom, but is it? I began my time with this group saying that I have seen very free people behind bars, and very bound people living in expensive homes. The prison that surrounds us all is not our circumstances, it is our perception of what is real and substantive and foundational to living.
From what will we draw a life that is truly life? For what are we truly hungering? Less stress? More stimulus? Less pressure? More comfort? What if we chase all those things and find that our attention to them has only increased the power these elusive pursuits have over us?
What if instead we begin our days and live them out with an ear and a heart toward the activity of God in the world around us? Or better yet, with an ear toward His activity in the world within us. Could five minutes of re-connecting to His life-giving Spirit actually bring more life than an hour of television?
A friend of mine told me this story….
In the early days of our nation a group of explorers hired some native Americans to guide them into the frontier. In a rush to find their fortune in gold, these explorers would wake early and push hard all day.
Several days into the trip, they prepared again to depart, and to their dismay they found their Native American guides sitting still around the early morning fire. The men began to urge them to get up and get ready. The leader of the guides turned to them, and spoke.
“We cannot leave yet,” he said,” We have been moving too fast, and have left our spirits behind. We must wait here until our spirits catch up with us.”
Have a seat….I wonder how far behind you have left your Spirit? No wonder you are so hungry.