By Rev. Brandon Dirks
I am discontent with food.
Right now I am hungry. I am in the middle of a partial fast from lunch on Mondays to lunch on Tuesdays each week during Lent. I am hungry. If that were not enough, I am also committed during Lent to “eat to live” and not “live to eat.”
Why, you ask?
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I LOVE to eat…and I eat A LOT! A buffet brings delight to my heart (and stomach), not because of the quantity, but because of the variety! Loving church members often leave for the church staff everything from homemade baked goodies, leftover pastries from the meeting the night before, or even whole meals in our staff lounge. It’s like Christmas to me! My love for eating is one of the big reasons I intensely exercise an hour or more almost every day!
There is a darker side to my love of eating, however. I seem to want to eat all the time.
When I eat regular meals, I will have seconds (and thirds) and eat until I am full. I will finish the food on my kids’ plates (don’t want anything to go to waste). I will grab a handful-of-this, and a handful-of-that between meals—several times a day. When my wife and I go on our nightly walks, I fill my pockets with peanuts to eat along the way. I will eat things out of the fridge that are out of date, or dried out cookies that have been in the staff lounge for a week—again, I don’t think it should go to waste. Each day, I plan out where and how I will eat the following day—as if I am afraid of being hungry. I just can’t seem to control my eating—and it scares me.
There it is. Fear. Is this the root of it? Am I afraid to be hungry? Why does food have this power over me? Then I began to really wonder—has food become more important and more valuable to me that even God?
Jesus said, “People should not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”
How convicting! I needed to prove to myself that although I need food to survive, I need God to live!
So, I am fasting this Lent. I thought to keep my plans private, as Jesus taught his followers that fasting is between you and God, and to be very careful of telling others. But I tell you, not to boast, but to share my struggle to seek FIRST the kingdom of God, even before I seek the necessities of life. My guess is…many of you have similar struggles. Oh, it may not be with food. But there is something in your life that is a higher priority; that has power over you; that if you were really honest, is more important and more valuable to you than God. That the mere thought of going without it drives shivers of fear through your whole being.
Be honest with yourself…fill in the blank:
“I can’t live without __________.”
“I have to have ____________.”
“I need __________.”
If your answers are anything other than God, I invite you to join with me. I invite you to find a tangible way to demonstrate your complete, 100% dependence on God.
I haven’t figured it out… I don’t know where this is going, or even what will come after Lent. I just know I need to do something as the path I am on disappoints me.
I am hungry today. But not just for food.
And you know what? I am finding that my fear of hunger in this land of plenty and in a world where 805 million people do not have enough to eat is embarrassing. So my personal hunger is not as scary as I thought. I can miss a meal or two and be okay. I can “eat to live.” I do not need to be afraid. In fact, I am discovering that I am desiring, even finding comfort in, these moments of hunger. In an inexplicable way, I experience a truth that I have missed all my life.