It is none too easy to stay in the blogging business when in the summer camp business. Far too much time has between that magic hour during orientation and the final goodbyes, and far too many wonderful things God has done to be reported here. But I was asked at a recent meeting what was the one thing I knew I was being shown this summer. Given some thought, I landed on my appetite.
My appetite has changed in many ways throughout my life. When I was growing up, I always had an appetite for eating out. Mom was a great cook and all, but I craved food from more "exquisite" sources. College food only made that craving stronger. But having been on my own with my own money for a while, my appetite has shifted. I get a longing for some of Mom's stew beef, homemade mashed potatoes and biscuits, green beans, and sweet tea. Why on earth as a child would I crave a visit to McDonald's over that? My appetite for food has been altered.
My appetite for books has changed. While in school, I had no interest whatsoever in books. Books were the things of schoolwork - reports, research papers, and mandated reading. There were so many books I "read", but I retain neither the knowledge of those books, nor anything that was stressed as so important that I learn from them. Then came the freedom of graduation - no more homework! But having been set free, I found a craving to read. I felt drawn to great story tellers such as JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. Suddenly, I discovered that I had an appetite to read books. They became my escape, my dreams, and my adventures. And much like my Mom's cooking, I found that my appetite would consume the volumes in relatively short time.
My appetite for music has made dramatic shifts. While in high school and college, I was only interested in contemporary Christian music that had great hooks and simple messages. I needed it to rock and give me a bounce to my step. But through the years, I found most of this music to only fulfill the thrill of the moment, not the test of time. I began to listen to artists that put less emphasis on getting on the radio and people out of their seats. They put greater emphasis on writing lyrics, melodies, and arrangements that might not wake up the neighbors, but would stop me in my tracks, close my eyes in wonder and thought, even move me to tears in their timeless beauty and message. They satisfy a greater hunger deep within, sometimes with nothing more than a voice and an acoustic guitar.
So as I entered this summer, it was evident to me very early on - my taste for the things of this world needed complete altering. I needed to develop a stronger appetite for my God. My hunger found filling only in the spiritual milk and meat of the Word of God. My thirst could only be quenched by the refreshment of conversation with Him. My craving was the delicious fruits of His pure holiness, His abundant grace, and His steadfast love. When camp finished and the environment that made that appetite fertile and strong was removed. It didn't take long to see that my flesh would rise as it always does to pursue its lusts, which is no more than cotton candy - sweet for a moment, but wholly unsatisfying in any way. Sin feigns itself to be the object of my satisfaction, when it only carves out hollowness in my heart, leaving me empty and dry. Why!!! Why do I settle for the circus illusion of fulfillment in sin when my Father has killed the fatted calf and prepared a feast of grace and mercy for me?
Feeling this battle of the Spirit and the flesh, I went to the first Wednesday prayer meeting at my church that I had been to in forever. It was such a small gathering and the devotion shared was a very simple one - dealing with discouragement. But the time I spent with those men in prayer hit the spot. Just to sit in the quietness of that room as we simply and humbly poured out our hearts to God, craving His encouragement, fulfilled the desire of the Spirit within me.
AW Tozer once prayed, "We long to be filled with a longing for You." An appetite for Jesus Christ is mysterious in that it is the only thing that leaves us completely satisfied, yet utterly desperate for more. This is the appetite that I need to feed and grow. This is the hunger that must drive me out of bed a little earlier each day to find manna from heaven in the pages of God's Word. This is the thirst that must make me yearn for time in prayer wherever it presents itself. When Jesus Christ is the affection and adoration of my heart, the only One that my appetite longs to consume, then an interesting and beautiful thing happens. It is Christ that consumes me, instead.