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The scene was reminiscent of a Wild Wild West Shootout. The two men squared up to each other as an impregnable air of tension enveloped them. Their eyes bristled with violent intent. For what seemed like eternity neither man would budge. Neither man would relent. Neither man would as much as flinch. The server deemed the serving of chips to be sufficient whereas the young man on the opposite side of the counter did not.
We looked on with bated breath anticipating a backlash from either party. Then in an entirely unprecedented move, the server relented. Despite shooting a hostile stare at the young man, he reached for his ladle and scooped up another serving of chips, begrudgingly spooning it to the man’s plate. Content, the young man left the queue and took his seat at one of tables in the dining hall.
This was an all too common scene in my time living at a hostel in Madaraka back in my campus days. That was when Sunday lunch was chips. Other days would not witness such drama or histrionics. While most of us were meek and ‘content’ with the serving of fries we got. Others were more ‘persuasive’ and insisted on getting that little bit extra no matter the glare of the server that tacitly told them to get lost.
I wish I could liken my hunger for God to that of the young man for fries. I wish I could say I am always yearning to spend time with God in scripture and prayer. I wish I could say like David, “As a deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you O God.” I can’t however.
I don’t thirst for God as much as I should. I don’t yearn for a deeper intimacy with him. Neither do I crave for the all-satisfying presence of God with avarice. I’m merely content with just going through the motions. It’s indicative of my fallen nature. That I am all too easily content with settling for average with God.
One Sunday service of around 2 hours, that does it for us. Then off we go to our lives for another 6 days, for another petite serving the Sunday after that. Where is the greed for more? Where is the insatiable appetite for intimacy with God? Where is the ‘spiritual Oliver Twist’ in us? We were created for more were we not?
We have a God-sized hole in our souls but we are content with bit-sized portions of God. Maybe we are too scared and believe He will shoot us for asking for more of him. No, maybe perhaps we are too stuffed on finite things that there is little room for the infinite. I think the reason we consume too little of him, is we believe very little about him.
We don’t believe he is all that glorious, so we affix glory on people. We esteem their approval more than we esteem God’s. We fear their criticism more than we revere God. We hanker for their validation more than we do for God.
We don’t believe he is all that great so we take micro-management to a whole new level. We don’t believe he is sovereign so we are constantly looking over our shoulders for fear of being ambushed. We are constantly engaged in one-upmanship lest we fall behind. We don’t believe he calls the shorts so we ensure we do.
We don’t believe he is gracious so we interact with him on a sort of contractual and transactional basis. Where we strive to play our part and do the good we can expecting him to ‘recompense’ our piety. We believe only in meritocracy and the thought that He can bless us independent of our worthiness to that blessing is a thought that confounds us.
We don’t believe he is good so we look for goodness elsewhere apart from him. We don’t believe he is good enough to satisfy us so we find fulfillment and pleasure outside of him. We don’t believe his blessings are good so we opt to settle in our jobs, relationships and so much more.
Little wonder that we fail to understand him. Little wonder that we feel we are missing something. Little wonder that he feels distant to us, that our faith is more of a repetitive custom with little significance outside the church walls.
Sin has marred us to the extent that independence from God seems more natural to us than dependency. It all started with Adam and Eve seeking goodness apart from him and we have followed that legacy of independence and unbelief ever since. Romans 3:11 states that there is no-one who understands or seeks God. Philippians 2: 21 underscores that we are more concerned about our own interests rather than those of Jesus Christ. The situation looked desperate but God provided a remedy.
He gave us Jesus to break free from the slavery of sin. To all who put their trust in Jesus, he gave us the gift of his Spirit to work in them to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13). It is comforting that when we lapse to moments of indifference towards God, we can cry out to him to help us seek after him. We can pray to him to help us glut on him, the bread of life, when we feel we have drifted away from him.
God never expected me to maintain an upward trajectory towards him. He knew I would lurch here and there. He knew you would do the same as well. Thankfully, and mercifully, if I confess my unbelief to him, he purifies me from my unrighteousness and gives me more of himself to pursue him, to hunger after him when I lack the strength to do it by myself.
It’s not always a given that you will desire God. He knows that as the verses above have outlined. You can be sure, though, that he will quicken your spirit to hanker for him, if you ask him to. He loves you that much. As he sent his son to atone for you sin, so too can he fill you up to hunger for him, when you need him to.