“SATISFIES”. That’s what it said on the back of a popular brand of candy bar I picked up not too long ago. Somewhere in my heart, the Holy Spirit laughed. The advertising people who came up with this campaign know us all too well. When our bellies rumble, what we really need is nourishing food. But this particular bit of marketing has us pegged pretty well. We as humans will all too often settle for something that bears some resemblance to what we need, and certainly does sound delicious, and even tastes great in the moment! But that vain attempt at a substitute leaves us with the same (or worse) hunger a very short while later. Now, there is nothing wrong with a candy bar if we take it for what it is. It only becomes a problem when we start to believe that it can satisfy our deeper hunger and need for food.
You probably already see where the Holy Spirit took me when I picked up that candy bar. Our deepest hunger, our most basic need is God Himself. But like I said, these ad people are very good at their jobs, and they picked up on what God has said about us all along – we think something else can satisfy. To borrow a phrase I heard recently, “We take good things and make them God things.” We do it with money, technology, sex, sports, jobs, spouses, children, friends, cars, houses, food, knowledge, status. The list goes on and on. People have been trying to get more out of this world than it can give for a very, very long time because God made us with a deep longing that can only be satisfied by Him. These other pursuits have their places in our lives, and in their proper contexts, they can be called gifts from the Lord. But we don’t usually sit at the table and let Jesus fill us up before we reach for what my 4 year-old calls a “treat”. No, we tend to unwrap whatever other thing seems like a quick and easy (and pleasing!) fix. Then, we find ourselves with that same deep longing shortly after, and maybe even some guilt we didn’t have before.
When we find ourselves back in that hungry place, we have a choice to make. Do we go back and have another serving? Or do we admit our mistake, and admit that what we really need is Jesus, and then sit at the table and let Him teach us what real nourishment is? When we start to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), an interesting thing happens – our desires shift. We start to learn that what we really want and need is Jesus, and by training, we become unwilling to settle for anything less. This process, called sanctification, takes a lifetime, but the first thing we have to do is drop the candy bar. Then, we have to come to the table. Jesus will never leave us hungry (John 6:35).