Striving or Starving?

I heard it said recently that to be ‘open to the Holy Spirit’ was not enough and that we needed to be ‘hungry’.

Rather than passively awaiting something, we needed to actively go after it, to feel the need and the desire.

There needs to be passion in the pursuit, urgency.

We are told to ‘hunger and thirst’ by Jesus.

The prodigal son ate the pig’s food when he was hungry. His striving for sustenance led him to the thing he could provide for himself.

And it was muck.

When he was starving he returned home. He repented. He laid himself aside. And he was filled, his stomach and his soul.

Starvation forces our hand. It opens the way for urgency, for radical change. It finally causes us to acknowledge the end of ourselves, our striving, our efforts.

Hunger can be dampened- a snack here, a nibble there. We can fix it but starvation requires drastic action.

John Piper said, “The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.”

Last year God may have been forcing our hand. Giving us the push we needed to let go of things, to do things differently.

Maybe he has been exposing the things we nibble at that stop us really recognising how starved we are for the things of God. Exposing the things we have papered over the cracks with and hoped it would be enough. The areas of striving, of self reliance.

In his kindness he exposes us. The idols of the heart. The things we have valued and gone after more than we’ve gone after him.

He is a jealous God, but in his jealous love he fights for us to win back our hearts from the things that have captivated and busied us.

Did you feel starved for the things of God last year? Desperate for more of him? For his kingdom to come in your community, for his righteousness to fill your life? For the brokenness and injustice you see around you to be put right?

Desperate people don’t shrink back until they are satisfied.

The woman who touches Jesus’s coat, Jairus whose daughter was dying, Jacob wrestling with God, Zacchaeus giving away all he had gained by cheating- there was some form of starvation and a radical response.

How desperate are we for God?

Desperation can make us embarrassed and uncomfortable. We want to appear to have it all together, not to be in need of anything. “We try to impress with our brilliance, but our brokenness and imperfections are our greatest gift” (Alan Scott) and this moves the heart of God in a way that ‘togetherness’ never will.

Revival, healing and restoration don’t come to those who are ‘together’. They come to the desperate and the starving. The ones who see their lack and cry out for saving.

As we start 2021 let’s not be so quick to move on, to get back to ‘normal’ and for things to look the same as they did before.

That way we fail to let the full redeeming work of Christ have its way in us.
That way we miss really sitting with how he’s been getting our attention and prompting us to change.

Maybe we need to allow ourselves to feel the full extent of our starvation so that we get desperate enough to throw off the sin that so easily entangles, the self righteousness that tells us we’re ‘ok’ and we’ve got this, and instead expose the starvation of our souls so we can be filled again with ALL the fullness and life saving power and righteousness of God?

Emily Williams