This evening I find myself in a strange position: the kids are asleep, Janis is out enjoying a well-deserved girls’ night with sisters from Church, and I’ve just one of my extra-curricular projects for work. I have a little time to spare with nothing pressing to do. At first, I started to panic, as this is a very unfamiliar situation for me. Whether by preference or circumstance, I usually have a to-do list with a week’s worth of work, but tonight is different. Then I remembered that I have a blog (and I’m probably the only person that remembers I have a blog).
This time alone gives me a moment to flush out one of several topics that have been on my mind lately – my appetites. I don’t mean merely my physical appetite for food, which is not inconsiderable, but rather the pursuits of my mind, the things I seek out and desire.
I have long prayed for God to increase my desire for Him and for the Word. I guess I figured that if I prayed about it long enough God would zap me with the passion stick and I’d suddenly crave time in the Word and be able to rattle off deep and impressive prayers that displayed my intimate love for and knowledge of Jesus.
A few months ago I came home from work and sat down to a very appealing dinner prepared for us by my wife. As we prayed I could smell the food (steak, as I recall) and I realized I really wanted that steak. Like now. It was all I could do to keep from interrupting the prayer by yelling “Get In Ma Belly!” at the plate in front of me. It then came to mind that I had just experienced the kind of desire that I should feel for God, the Word, and the advancement of His glory.
In that moment God had given me an intense experience of desire and I’m sorry to say that any attraction I felt towards reading my bible or spending time on my knees in prayer paled in comparison.
I’ve since realized, too, that my appetite for God was (and often is) outweighed by my appetites for things of this world. Even good things become idols when they are elevated above Jesus in our hearts. I have an appetite for my work, for hockey, for trying new challenges and taking on new projects. It’s also true that if my appetite for a project fails the project will likely stall as well.
We are taught that worship is not just 20 minutes of singing on a Sunday, but is, in fact, the very living of our lives and the use and distribution of our resources. We worship by spending time, thought, money, giving preference and priority. When we are driven by our appetites we worship the things of this creation, often at the expense of worship to the creator.
What is also true is that our appetites are trained. We become slaves to the very appetites we create. Why do my appetites trend towards work, food and entertainment? Because those are the things I do. That’s how I spend my time, therefore I am comfortable there and it becomes natural to seek those things out. I spend 12+ hours a day on work and have for most of my working life. I eat great food prepared by my very talented wife. I watch recorded TV shows and movies, play ball hockey and wrestle with Wesley. These are my comfort zones.
So, I’m trying to retrain my appetites. I still love food, work and entertainment, but I pray it will be in a more Ecclesiastical way – enjoying them for the gifts that they are, in the moment in which I receive them, acknowledging them as gifts from the almighty creator God. I want to develop a new and better appetite – one for spending time with God in reading, in prayer and in thought. I know that as I draw nearer to Him, I will be more attracted to Him and desire His will more. Of course, I don’t hope to achieve this in my own strength, for that would be failure before even beginning. My firm hope is that the Holy Spirit will work in my heart to teach me to love God above all the distractions this world offers. It will take a lifetime, and will only be achieved on the day that I see Christ and become like Him – but I look forward to the process!