One night several months back I was snuggled up in my bed praying through Psalm 63. If you’ve never prayed through the Psalms, I highly recommend it. Not only does it steep you in God’s Word, but its structure alleviates store-list making, worry fests, and loud snoring during prayer times.
With my fluffy comforter yanked to my chin, I was praying familiar words about earnestly seeking God. But as I started the second stanza, I stopped and reread. And reread.
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.”
That was it. I read it again. Fat and rich food? What in the world? Like Bruster’s ice cream? Like fried mozzarella sticks?
The passage continued:
“…and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”
When David lay in his bed, remembering and meditating on God, his soul was positively satisfied. He was stuffed. There’s something about “fat and rich foods” that beckons. An Amish Market opened near our house, and as soon as any living thing enters the doors they are hit by a wafting wave of scent that magically floats them over to the doughnut counter. I’m not kidding. And even though each doughnut is probably taking a year off its eater’s life, there is something uniquely satisfying about biting into the flaky, glazy, ridiculous, goodness of one.
God’s divine hand created taste buds and stomachs and Amish doughnuts—or at least their enchanted ingredients. It was his mind that dreamed up the satisfying pleasure of enjoying food. Could one of his purposes have been metaphorical, likening our grumbling stomachs to our empty souls? After all, Jesus did call himself the bread of life.
As I leaned back chewing on those verses, I realized that God wants to fill me, completely, with himself. He is to my soul what a sizzling steak is to my stomach: satisfaction. I will not find ultimate fullness from eating or shopping or achieving or comparing. What my empty, emaciated soul needs is him. And yet oddly, at times I don’t feel very hungry for God, and my spiritual stomach seems to be growling for everything but him.
In A Hunger for God, John Piper diagnoses the problem:
If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.
My soul amens these words with the voice of experience. It’s tried to make a meal of those crumbs too often and found itself still hungry: crumbs of media, purchases, information, food, productivity, home décor, achievement. And not one of them truly nourished. The soul’s stomach still growled.
Help us learn, Lord, to wipe aside the crumbs and cultivate appetites for you. Teach us to “remember you on our beds,” “meditate on you in the watches of the night,” and “sing for joy” with a full soul and a smile of contentment in you.