What’s the first rule of the Grocery Store Club? You do not talk about . . .Wait, wrong club. The first rule of going to the grocery store – don’t go hungry.Yet, I do it ALL the time.
It’s really a bit of a sad picture when I do. You know that feeling where you are so focused on your hunger that the words on your grocery list blur. You know that healthy, satisfying options are available, but you are so desperate to satisfy the immediate hunger that you will take whatever option first catches your eye. I go for a quick fix.
My personal “drug” of choice is sugar – in all of its glorious forms – cookies, ice cream, cake, candy. I call it a drug because that is what it is. And, my behavior surrounding sugar is much akin to what is seen in addicts. I grab something quick “just to take the edge off” while I shop. Then, I feel guilty. And, faster than David planned the demise of his lover’s husband, I hide the evidence, disposing of wrappers or containers before I get home.
Nothing satisfactory about the experience except that for a moment the pain of hunger was subsided. But for only a moment because my choice was all wrong.
How often do we show up to face life like we tackle the grocery store? Hungry. Eager to grasp the first thing that will take the edge off. Willing to settle for short-term gratification in place of long-lasting satisfaction. Just as we shouldn’t pull up to the local grocery with an empty belly, we can’t pull up to life with an empty heart – we can’t go hungry.Yet, that is exactly what we so often do.
If our hearts are not filled and re-filled – daily – they empty. We begin to hunger. Our hungry hearts become desperate to be filled. Like an empty stomach confuses the mind into choosing guilty pleasures in lieu of filling meals – an empty heart does the same. Instead of feeding our faith, we snatch cheap substitutes to take the edge off.
What’s your temptation? What takes the edge off allowing you to sidestep the pangs of faith hunger? Embarrassingly, my cheap substitute for faith is pride. I can do it myself. I can swing it alone.There are many from which to choose. Have you ever felt insignificant and turned to a relationship to feel loved? Have you ever been hit with an unexpected expense that simply isn’t in the budget and grabbed a bottle or a spoon to fill the hole? Have you ever suffered a defeat at work and stopped by the shopping mall or the strip club to ease the sting? The choices are endless when we show up hungry.
Just as Joseph and his technicolor coat predicted famine, we know that our own times of scarcity are bound to arrive. So, what are we to do? We gotta have a plan. When I want to avoid the slippery slope of sweets at the grocery, I grab a healthy snack before heading out. Similarly, we need a plan to feed faith before famish sets in. If we wait until we are already hungry, it’s too late. We’ll settle for scraps out of desperation. If we wait until we are in the middle of life’s storms, we’ll be left to scrounge empty shelves.
Unlike the famine that Joseph faced, we cannot simply store up seven-years’ worth of faith to be doled out in times of future need. God, himself, has warned us that faith has a very short shelf life. Like the manna of the Exodus, faith cannot be stored. Rather, we must forage for it daily.
This is where my hungry heart tends to get into trouble. That I can do attitude tells me that I have enough faith to last so I’m good if I miss a day of devotion or a week of Sunday service. And, maybe that is true for a short time. The problem is that a short time stretches into a long time. Unlike Joseph, who knew exactly how long the famine in the land would last, we are caught off guard by how long our storms might rage.
There is only one plan that can keep us from going hungry and that is to forage daily. It is so easy to allow the busyness of grocery lists and “to do” lists to swallow that sacred time for replenishing our stores. Yet, God’s instruction couldn’t be more clear.
Give us this day our daily bread.
That simple direction exposes my prideful drug for the folly that it is. I can’t do it alone. As I clutch to the illusion that I am able to store enough faith to get me through tomorrow much less next week or next month – this simple prayer reminds me that I must venture through the storm each and every day with one destination in my sights – the Well.
Father, Thank you for your daily provision. Thank you for your promise to restore our hearts, minds, and souls – daily. Thank you for your grace and mercy that ensures that we never need settle for crumbs in the middle of our storms. Thank you for the daily loaves of hope that are ours for the taking. Send your Spirit to guide us away from quick fixes and cheap substitutes. Lead us always on the path set by your Son, Jesus. Guide our steps daily to the Well where Daily Bread and Living Water ensure that we will never go hungry. Through your Son, Amen!