I laid in bed last night and tried to open my heart to Him. I tried to tell Him what I was feeling and articulate what I was longing for or aching for but there was just this sadness. A weariness. So I closed my eyes and went to sleep banking on new mercies.
And here they are to meet me. Not in the way I would prefer, which is waking up feeling good and clear and excited about the week ahead.
I woke up with a tangled heart this morning. My heart just felt confused and chaotic and sad and hungry for something I couldn’t quite name. I got out of bed, thinking maybe I could leave it behind in the covers. I ducked out of the house, earlier than usual, hoping maybe I could outrun it in the car. I ordered a giant latte thinking maybe the warmth of the cup could thaw the hardness. I texted some friends thinking maybe their words could quiet the quaking.
But nothing worked.
So, in need of help and out of options, I stopped running and just sat in the feelings and opened my heart to Him and His story. And there they were, the new mercies, waiting for me in a conversation with Him.
Bread that satisfies
People followed Jesus because He gave them bread and their hungry bellies felt full. And in John, Jesus explains to His disciples that this isn’t real faith. That real faith is about following Him because you want Him, not the gifts He provides.
And because hurting hearts weigh and wrestle words until they become flesh, I turned those over until it was as if He was sitting with me here now and explaining this to me. Fabs, sometimes you love following me because I give good gifts and sometimes you think I’m failing you because I don’t give you the bread you want to eat. But I’m the real gift. Me, right here. And I’m always here and I am always what you want.
I let Him point out the ways that my heart right now really believes that I could be satisfied if He mixed up a few circumstances and gave me a few ‘blessings’, and He listened as I said sorry for that. And together we let breathless joy dance between us, because how amazingly freeing this truth is: that if Jesus is the thing that satisfies me then I have access to the thing that satisfies me always.
I pointed out to Him that sometimes He doesn’t feel as satisfying as the gifts. And because He’s not insecure, that didn’t make Him pull away, it just made Him lean in a little closer and point to the words He wrote down for me: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Jesus.” This is the work of God, to be satisfied by Jesus.
I guess being satisfied by Jesus isn’t easy in this life.
Step one: you have to turn to Jesus when you’re hungry.
And that’s hard. Because there are SNACKS EVERYWHERE here in America. Sad? Pick up your iphone and distract yourself. Eat fast food. Call a friend. Stare at the beautiful sky. Go on vacation. We are a very blessed people. Just as Jesus did for those hungry crowds, he gives us lots of loaves. And just like those crowds, we’re often content to eat our our full.
Sometimes, friends can’t pick up their phones. Sometimes you’re sick and nothing tastes good. Sometimes, God doesn’t give the loaves you want right when you want them, and what a kindness those moments are, when you have no other food so you have to turn to Jesus.
But, how sweet it is when He is not just our only portion, but our chosen portion. When we feel that nagging hunger to be wanted or known or seen or loved, and instead of turning to friends or day dreams, we actually turn to Him and ask Him to satisfy us first. This is the hard ‘work’ of being satisfied in Jesus: to turn to Him when you’re hungry instead of His blessings.
Step two: let Jesus be what you want.
Sometimes we do turn to Jesus in our hunger but, ironically, we turn to Him primarily to petition Him to give us the blessings that we think will satisfy us. Letting Jesus satisfy us is not just turning to Him, but consuming Him as the thing we desire.
Which would mean (a) knowing what we desire (b) knowing how Jesus satisfies that desire specifically (c) waiting on Jesus to satisfy deeply.
E.g. Today I guess I am sad because I feel misunderstood. So I meditate on how He understands me, not just because He made me, but because He sends His Spirit inside of me to search my heart, and I think about that kind of knowing and how much better that is than the way people can know me (which depends on me being able to articulate things and them being able to hear them without their own filters). And if these seem like dry academic truths, I imagine them, envision them, remember all the moments He has known me, refuse to walk away from this conversation until they fall from my head to my heart. And if life interrupts, and I get up without ‘feeling’ it, then I’ll bank on them. I won’t run to others, I’ll tell Jesus – I think this is true about you, so I’m going to wait on it. I’m going to keep coming back to you, and you alone for this one.
And now I’m sitting here, for this moment, full.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll feel hungry again. Probably when I get up from this coffee shop table and go to my next meeting. But that’s great. Because I’ll know where to find food. And the more I eat from Him who satisfies the less fearful and needy I’ll be of this life because the more confident I’ll be that I always know where to find the One I need.