(By Heather Marshall)
I stood in front of the fridge, staring into its abyss, mindful of the old childhood adage to not “let the penguins out.” What was I looking for? I was hoping to find something to satisfy my hunger cravings. There were lots of fruit and veggies peering back at me, but that felt too much effort and I wanted something sweet or salty that was going to give me a quick energy fix and instant gratification.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry or have a craving for food, I find myself more often than not drawn to more processed foods like chocolate or chips rather than nutrient-dense food like veggies and fruit. Don’t get me wrong, food has no inherent moral value. That is, there are no “good foods” or “bad foods.” But it is a scientific fact that some foods are more nutritious than others, and, in general, foods that are closer to their natural form are better for your body.
Natural foods tend to promote greater health benefits, and they are also a source of longer sustained energy for our bodies. Although processed foods may feel good and seem to meet our need in the moment, they don’t work for our bodies in the same way that natural foods do. Not too long after eating processed foods, we crash and either need to eat again or we feel unwell.
Why do we crave these processed foods more than more natural foods? It is because man has loaded processed foods with salt, fat, and sugar. Adding salt gives a food a flavor burst. Fat offers a pleasurable mouth feel. Sugar triggers human brain cells to send out an explosion of pleasure signals. The food that gives your brain the most exceptional pleasure is one you’ll crave and want to seek out over and over again.
These foods are also more desirable because they are easy to grab and eat. Generally, no preparation is required whereas natural foods tend to need either washing, peeling, chopping — or all three. There is effort involved, and sometimes, let’s be real, I just don’t want to be bothered.
This feeling of apathy that I sometimes have about eating healthy got me thinking about how I am sometimes apathetic about my spiritual nourishment. There have been times when my soul longs for something that satisfies. In Psalm 107:9, the psalmist speaks of the longing of his soul and how it is satisfied in the Lord. Very often, my soul has the same longing, but instead of seeking the Lord to fulfill my need (like the psalmist did), I numb myself with other things that don’t last and that eventually leave me feeling empty and dissatisfied.
The things that I’m drawn to for fulfillment of my soul’s longings are likely different from those that you might be drawn to. It’s safe to say that they are all easily accessible and provide some sort of instant gratification and pleasure, but leave us longing for more in the end.
In John 6:35, Jesus said “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” This is spiritual food that both satisfies and lasts eternally.
The Lord Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross satisfies the penalty our sins demanded and gives us eternal life. There is no effort required by us other than to simply believe and receive His gift of salvation (Acts 16:31). But after the moment of salvation, the ongoing nourishment of our souls requires some engagement on our part.
In John 15:4 Jesus tells us that the way we are spiritually nourished is by abiding in Him. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
Abiding in Christ is synonymous with knowing Christ through an intimate relationship, and not just a superficial one. We develop this relationship by engaging in spiritual rhythms of Bible study, prayer, giving, resting, evangelism, celebration, and worship. It takes engagement and effort on our part. But just like taking the effort to prepare healthy foods reaps benefits in health and satisfaction for our bodies, abiding in Christ reaps eternal satisfaction for our souls.
The beauty of spiritual nourishment through abiding in Christ is that it develops fruit in our lives. Spiritual fruit as found in Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law.” And once we have a taste of this spiritual nourishment, we want more! “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).
Sisters, let’s ask the Lord for an appetite for true spiritual nourishment through abiding in Christ. We can also seek Him for guidance in nourishing our bodies well. Honoring Him in both of these ways will bring benefits now and eternally.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8).