That rumble in your stomach as the clock strikes noon and you skipped breakfast.
The way your busyness can only go on for so long before you collapse from burn out.
All the ways we feel our lack on a daily basis are meant to stir something in us deep.
On the morning of her fourth birthday my daughter announces to me proudly that she no longer needs help…with ANYTHING! She says it all smiles and she really believes her day has arrived and she is self sufficient. All 4 yrs, 3 1/2 ft and ear to ear grin of her can now handle whatever the world throws at her- as long as that means putting her shoes, socks and jacket on by herself.
I gaze deep into her brown eyes all aglow and I tell her with utmost sincerity that I want her to know she will have need her whole life. She will need help and people and most of all she will always need Jesus, more and more everyday if she leans hard on the Cross.
My throat catches with the burn of tears as I say these things to her. I’ve known need as of late. It’s been the uncomfortable kind of need. Knee surgery, sickness, the just not enoughs, arguments that seem to circle around and around in my marriage, discouragement, loss, the end of my rope…I’ve felt the gap between my abilities and reality and it’s ached. There is a chasm between my reaching and scraping to make a life and the Life I am meant to have in Christ.
I think I’m meant to live in this space. I believe I’m meant to live in the rub between contentment and disillusionment, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Admitting we are pits of need goes against our Edenic angst. We want to be like God and when we bump into the fact that we are not nor never could be, it stings.
Malnutrition was as daily observation in Liberia. If you don’t know much about malnutrition you might not be aware there are multiple types. Most of us think of gaunt skeletal figures on the verge of death from starvation (marasmus), but the kind of malnutrition we observed in Liberia was often the result of not eating enough of the right things (kwashiorkor). Swollen bellies empty of good things and full of worms gnawing away. The fattened bellies seem good to the untrained eye, but if you know what you’re seeing, the vision becomes grim.
If I’m honest my soul feels hollow and malnourished in the same way. I’ve filled up on things failing to feed my soul and the result is what looks like health on the outside, but is sickness on the inside. My One Word for 2016 is “Nourish” and I’ve realized I need to re-evaluate, in every area, my soul’s health.
When you begin a feeding program with a malnourished child you don’t offer them a steak dinner. You can’t because the result would be a far sicker person. Their system will revolt from the shock. They simply aren’t ready. As I think about what I need I am tempted to make big plans, when what I need are small, deliberate steps toward true soul health. That is why I’m starting small.
I’ve resisted the urge to launch an overhaul of every area of my life. Instead I’m making intentional steps toward genuine health in specific areas. My first prayer for this year has been that I would fall in love with God’s Word. I want it to be the meat that reconstitutes my hungry soul. I’ve been reading through the Psalms and the result has only been to reinforce my deep need for God’s Word. The Word is sweet to a soul as starved as mine and I only need a little to produce good things in my soul. The Word is pure nourishment to the weak.
There is that word again. Need. It is uncomfortable and triggers my flight response. I want to do whatever it takes to not feel that need. Trouble is I’m meant to feel that need and to fill that need with Christ again and again. It is the shadow under which we all live and, ironically enough, is the only true light we have for this life.
Does your soul feel starved? How are you “starting small” to nourish your spirit back to health?