The human appetite is a powerful thing. In fact, there aren’t many things that control our behavior much more than our appetite. I mean, just take a few seconds and think about the last time that you were really hungry. When we are hungry food quickly becomes the most important thing to us. We’ll do just about anything to satisfy our ravenous cravings. We’ve even created a word to describe the person who’s unfulfilled appetite is causing them emotional distress. . .we call them “hangry”.
Hangry – When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both (Urban Dictionary).
Ultimately, we know that, albeit uncomfortable at times, our appetite for food is a good thing. Without it we wouldn’t know when to pause our daily activities to eat. And consequently, because our intake of food is directly related to our energy level, if we fail to eat on a regular basis we’ll lack the energy to live our lives. Simply put, our appetite is meant to lead us to the source of our energy.
This is not only true for our physical lives, but also for our spiritual lives. In the opening lines of Psalm 42 the Psalmist writes “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
The Psalmist is using a metaphor to describe the inner appetite he has for God. Even better, he is correlating his spiritual appetite to a physical one that we all experience, thirst. In essence, he’s saying that he has an inner longing for the living God and the nearest thing he can relate it to is thirsting for water.
We all have a spiritual appetite given to us by God. Augustine says it this way, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Here Augustine is speaking of the longing of every human heart. There is a void, a restlessness in our hearts that we all seek to fill. In Augustine’s estimation, of which I agree, that longing can only be fulfilled by our Creator.
While Augustine is referring to the general void every one of us experiences, there is also a desire that is more specific than a general longing for “something more”. Once a person is saved through faith in the work of Jesus Christ, that person is awakened to new life. Scripture says that person is a “new creation”, the old has gone and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). This moment of awakening, known as regeneration, is the inception of a an eternal relationship with God. It’s also the inception of an appetite for something new. Through the Holy Spirit we are given new desires, a new appetite for God and things of God (wisdom, righteousness, and devotion) (Tit. 2:12). Often times, however, we have a twisted view of our salvation. Instead of viewing our salvation as an ongoing exploration, we see it as a stationary event that we can look back on. Life with Jesus was never meant to be viewed or lived this way. Instead, life in Christ is meant to be a “glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead.” God is prompting us to pursue Him, and to ultimately find our delight in Him (Ps. 37:4).
This is precisely why God gives us a spiritual appetite, to cause us to seek our well-being in Him. Just like our physical appetite leads us to the source of our energy, food, our spiritual appetite is meant to lead us to the Source of all vitality, God himself. So when we feel like the Psalmist and our souls are thirsting for more, longing for something deeper, we must learn to recognize that this very longing is a God-given provision to us. In the same way that He gave us hunger and thirst for food and water, He also gives us an appetite for more of His presence. If we are to live a vibrant spiritual life, filled with energy, strength, and health, we must regularly seek the God who alone can fill us with such things.
Psalm 145:6 “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
In closing, I want to give one practical step that each of us can take to see our spiritual desires lead us closer to God. When it comes to eating, our appetite is most helpful to our health when we respond to it with consistent, steady nutrition. Prolonged periods without food, inconsistency in our choices, and/or overindulgence in the wrong things can dramatically affect our appetite. Similarly, consistency in seeking God is crucial to our spiritual life. In Psalm 105:4 David wrote “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually.” In many other cases David wrote about seeking the Lord in the morning, throughout the day, in the evening, and in his bed at night. It seems to me that David knew the importance of continually trying to live in the strength and presence that our Lord provides. This continual seeking will look different for each of us. The point is not to create some equation that we live within that produces God’s presence for us. Instead, I suggest taking some time to think about how to invite God into everything that you do. Make sure not to skip even the most mundane parts of your life like housework, paying bills, exercising, and even sleeping. Once you’ve taken time to think about it, do it. Ask God to be a part of everything that you are doing. Tell Him that you want to abide in Him and live out of His strength not your own. And then do your best to be conscious of His involvement on a day to day basis.
I’ve heard it said, “Our lives are formed by the habits in which we live.” Let’s create spiritual rhythms in our lives that help us rely upon God for everything that we are doing. He designed it to work that way after all.