I have two teenagers. One is about done growing. The other, my son, could go another four or five years. When he is in one of his growth spurt patterns, his boundless appetite becomes the axis on which the rest of his life spins. He and the fridge become one, and the rest of us try to not get in the way. How is it possible that one can put away an entire steak dinner with all the sides only to be ravenous an hour later? I am not the first mother to ask this, nor will I be the last. Nonetheless, it defies all reason so I have to say it.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6, NIV).
Just like the human body has a natural appetite for food, so too does the soul have an appetite for God, that elusive “something more” that R.C. Sproul talks about in his book The Soul’s Quest for God.
“Nothing can be in the heart that is not first in the mind. Our hearts cannot be inflamed about something we know not of. Unless we know God deeply, we cannot love him deeply. A faint understanding of God is enough to begin the heart to stir. Emotions my be kindled by the slightest acquaintance with the majesty of Christ. But for that spark to rise into a consuming and lasting fire, our knowledge of him must increase. To know him is to love him.”
How I want my kids to be inflamed with a passion for God and all that a life with Him encompasses. But again I ask, how can I make this happen? Like everything else, I believe the answer lies first with me. Am I preoccupied with God and the knowledge of Him? If so, do my kids see that in me? Do I present Him as worthy of their time and energy? Is the pursuit of righteousness perceived as drudgery to them, a set of rules and restrictions? As usual, I have more questions than answers, more conviction than clarification.
A couple of thoughts come to mind. First, promoting an environment conducive to desiring God is a good place to start. I read an article recently in an online Christian publication arguing for the need to take back our time at home with our kids and spouses by turning off the television and unplugging for a few hours. I couldn’t agree more, but what a challenge. There is very little on television that promotes morals and nothing that champions righteousness.
Second, we’re all slaves to something. We will spend our time doing something. Why is it when a friend calls and asks us to go out for coffee that we jump at the idea without thought, but when God asks for just a few minutes of our time each day the excuses as to why we can’t possibly give Him that just pour out without effort? Paul talks about this very thing in Romans 6.
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:16-18, NIV).
I have to ask myself, what am I a slave to?
Third, Jesus promises that a hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. There is nothing more frustrating than being thirsty to the point of being parched and the only thing to drink is hot coffee! What I have found is that when I am in a place spiritually where I am hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness, the fulfillment He brings is beyond explanation.
When my teenager is looking to fill the hole in his stomach, sugary snacks are only going to take him so far. What he really needs are vegetables and protein. A diet of substance will carry him much farther and help him avoid the inevitable crash of a diet consisting of nothing but junk.
Everywhere I look I see people demanding rights that they are convinced will complete them and bring wholeness to their lives. What I wish for them and for my kids is for the ability to see and understand that no one will ever love them more than Jesus, and no one can bring the lasting fulfillment that only He was meant to bring. A pursuit of God to the dying of everything that threatens that is the only way to live. It’s our job to model this concept to our kids. They see the world’s way of searching for fulfillment. Someone has to show them God’s way.