1 O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.Psalm 63:1 (NRSV)
My first mountain bike adventure (and quite frankly, one of my only) was a crisp January day in the early 1990s. Two friends, who were by far better and stronger riders, went to a lake north of Cincinnati for an afternoon of riding. I had recently completed a 100-mile century ride from Morehead, KY to Cold Spring, KY so I didn’t think much of getting on the bike and heading out for the day. The first hint that I was in over my head was when I literally went head over handlebars into a ditch within the first 15 minutes. Fortunately nothing but my pride was bruised. But let’s just say the next few hours were difficult at best. Up and down, up and down, up and down we went. Unlike road biking there is not much coasting or time to ease up. Mountain biking is way more intense. Other than the bruised pride the only other thing I remember vividly is the afternoon meal. We stopped at McDonald’s on the way home and I can honestly say that I have never been more hungry nor more satisfied after a meal. The exhaustion and hunger was like I had never experienced before. And it made the mundane McDonald’s meal memorable (filet-o-fish, fries, coke, apple pie)…don’t judge me! 🙂
The psalmist talks about being thirsty for God. A physical longing for the presence of God. In my limited and non-medical estimation, hunger comes from a prolonged lack of food OR it comes from an anticipation of food. Folks in difficult situations have a hunger for God that you can sense. I have sat in enough rooms of shut-in members to know their desire to be in a service among church family. It is real and it is a hunger for God and his people. Many tears and many words have been shared. I have also been with people who couldn’t wait for the next Lord’s Day and the next Lord’s Day and the next Lord’s Day. They had discovered within times of worship, as well as other times of devotion, a satisfying presence of God that made them hungrier and hungrier for. It wasn’t that they had been cut off from it, they found a growing satisfaction by being involved in it so consistently.
I believe the practices around Lent work in both ways to create that hunger for God the psalmist mentions. Our fasting, from whatever we have chosen, creates a void in us that we either allow to gnaw at us or we fill with the things of God such as prayer, study, and times of gathering together. Additionally, we find that the intentional times of focusing on the Lord develop a sweet longing for his presence that lasts throughout the rest of our life, just like that first piece of chocolate makes me long for the next and the next.
I pray you will hunger for God because you realize that no one, or nothing, else can satisfy your deepest desires. As we enter week 3 of Lent, stay strong in your Lenten practices for these are the very disciplines that God will use to create a deep and meaningful hunger for him in us if we don’t give up.