March 21, 2011 - A Living Appetite
Rev. Ken Bushey
There’s nothing quite like the hunger pangs of a Lenten fast to remind me of who I am. I’m a living appetite. Genesis 2:7 says that when the Lord God breathed into the nostrils of the mud he had formed “the man became a living nephesh.” We commonly translate this word as soul, creature, life or being. However, it also carries the meaning throat, breath, appetite. You and I are walking throats, living appetites. Life is sustained because we have a throat in which we consume food and oxygen. We are beings that were made to be filled.
Jesus and his disciples had been traveling all morning, the sun was at high noon, it was lunch time, and the disciples had an appetite. So they went into town to find food. When they returned with lunch, they urged Jesus to eat, but Jesus refused the offer. Surely he was hungry. Why wouldn’t he eat? He wasn’t interested in a puny sandwich because his eyes were fixed on the abundant harvest of souls who were eagerly approaching him. The Samaritan woman was returning to Jesus with the whole town.
His stomach was growling, but God was working. Jesus was urged to answer the call of his natural appetites, but the greater call of God’s desires won his full attention. This wasn’t the first time Jesus refused to his human appetites. When fasting in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted with bread, as well as acceptance, fame, power, wealth. Appetites come in various forms. You and I could add a few of our own to the list. Our desires are strong and persuasive. And it is a law of natural appetites that they are never fully satisfied, but will ever want more.
But Jesus refused to be distracted. Jesus teaches us that there are things more fulfilling than answering the constant call of our natural appetites. “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’” The greatest fulfillment is found not in satisfying my desires, but in satisfying God’s desires.
Fasting reminds me who I am. I am a living appetite who will never be satisfied in feeding my natural cravings. Rather, I am a living appetite that finds my truest satisfaction in being filled with God’s Holy Spirit, consciously refusing my appetites when they compete with God’s desires for me.
Lord Jesus, You know what I crave. You know my natural desires and your desires for me. Remind me with the pangs of my unmet appetites that you alone satisfy. Sanctify me from distracting, unhealthy or sinful appetites and teach me your will that I may be about your work. Amen.