Are you Hungry for God?
You cannot long for something that you have never tasted of to some degree. Without a taste of His promise we would be ignorant and lack desire. People say “ignorance is bliss,” I say, ‘ignorance is ignorant,’ it keeps you from attaining what is available, from pressing for the upward call of God in Christ. The psalmist says “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is Good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him” (Psalm 34:8). A taste of His Beauty lets us see His Goodness, and seeing His Goodness allows us to desire Him more. It is impossible to have hunger for God apart from vision. He initiates the Hunger in our hearts and does so by opening our eyes to His Goodness and Worth.
The Lord likes to make us sure that He has something good in store for us, and will often give us a taste so that we want more. That taste will give us vision, perseverance, and purpose to continue in a certain direction to attain the fullness of that which we only had a taste of.
Jesus had a taste of the joy set before Him, and therefore He endured the cross despising the shame. Abraham had a taste of the Heavenly City and therefore he did not build a city for himself. Moses had a taste of the riches of Christ and therefore he forsook the riches of Egypt, and left Egypt as seeing Him who is invisible. They had tasted and seen and therefore put their trust and their hope in God.
This kind of Hunger draws God’s attention and He satisfies it. Sometimes the reason we don’t experience God’s presence is simply because we don’t desire it. We are so full of other things that we no longer express the need in our hearts because we are unaware of it.
God wants to kiss us with His Word (see Song of Songs 1:2). The kisses of His word, equip us to have the hunger needed so that we can be filled. It is those revelations of His beauty, those invitations that make room for Hunger. If that place of hunger is being satisfied by something else, you have greatly limited yourself. You can have as much of God and His presence as you want, but if you don’t want Him, God will find somebody else that does.
One of the greatest hindrances to hunger for God is legitimate pleasures. Legitimate pleasures are those things that are not sinful to do and sometimes are even beneficial. Sports, many hobbies, and diverse enjoyable activities are examples of legitimate pleasures. These activities often become idols in our hearts that we justify because they are not ‘sinful.’ They become what we try to satisfy our God-given need with. The reason they are such a great hindrance is because they are often so widely accepted that we do not realize it is actually taking our time from the King of Glory.
Though most of our, “legitimate pleasures,” are actually not legitimate at all. Anything that agrees with sin and we ourselves tolerate is not legitimate. Our culture tolerates much sin and even calls it good, those pleasures are sinful and we must repent. Sin is definitely a hindrance to Hunger for God.
Though legitimate pleasures are not wrong things, however sometimes they actually get in the way of what God wants to do in our life. The Laodicean church was so dulled by these that Jesus said He would spew them out of His mouth. TV sometimes is a legitimate pleasure, some video games may be legitimate (maybe…), etc. But they sometimes take up so much of that resource called time and that currency of Heaven called Hunger that we don’t have much left for God. The problem comes when we are no longer able to be what we were created to be; and that is to be those who are constantly in awe of the Beauty of Jesus.
The Lord had me go through a season of giving up many legitimate as well as illegitimate (sinful) pleasures. I stopped watching TV for the most part, maybe once every two or three months I would watch a movie or something. I stopped playing video games, computer games, etc. Surfing the internet and Facebook was a problem, spending the resource of time aimlessly. All this to say, for a season that has not ended I have laid aside all these hindrances. I lay them all down because I wanted to experience the presence and power of God. It was not just because they were sin, though some were sin, but I lay them down unto encounter with Jesus.
This is not legalism, it is Desire, and you spend more time with whatever you enjoy most. And depending on your hunger-level, when you find that something is getting in the way of what you really want you get rid of it. Time is a resource, and we can use it for that which brings us most pleasure. But what brings us most pleasure. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea). If we don’t know that God is most pleasurable, if we haven’t tasted and seen that He is good, then we will use our resources on others.
In the season that I gave up many legitimate pleasures, I began to encounter God as I had never before. I stumbled into His presence one time as I was worshipping Him. I did not plan it or even expect it, but He surprised me. I was just sitting in front of my parents’ computer and decided to turn on some worship music saved in the music program in the computer. As I started worshipping the Lord He met me, gave me a taste, and I was never able to go back. From that time on I knew because I had tasted that I had access into His presence and that it was very sweet and enjoyable. Though I had no idea what awaited me, I am so glad He showed me. In that season of encounter it got to a point that I would simply close my eyes, quietly say “Hallelujah,” or another expression of worship, and His presence would fill my being. I would come home from school and run into my room to worship God. It became my favorite part of the day.
I believe the reason why many don’t encounter Him frequently and deeply is because they don’t give Him much room. Hunger begets hunger, when you say yes to His call, when you participate in His invitation, then more hunger will be given. David wrote, “When You (Lord) said to me ‘Seek My Face’ my heart said ‘Your face I will seek” (Psalm 27). The more you give yourself to something that is enjoyable the more you begin to enjoy it. That is how we were made. You don’t come to enjoy prayer by playing basketball; you come to enjoy prayer by doing it and encountering the Beautiful One. I’m not saying that sports are bad; I’m just saying that the way you get to know Jesus is by spending time with Him. Praise God, He is everywhere and we can encounter Him no matter where we are or what we are doing. Now if you find that you are unable to engage with Jesus doing certain things because your focus is divided, separate time to be with Him undistracted.
If you watch TV/play video games on a daily basis, or check your Facebook 4-5 times a day, I don’t believe you will enter into the more that is available. And I believe your encounter with the Lord will be limited. If you do these it is safe to assume that you are spending at least an hour a day engaged in these activities. I’m not necessarily saying you are in sin. But I believe that this is a strong of a hindrance. This is not a commandment in the scriptures, “Thou shall not check Facebook more than twice a day” (2 Sebastians 5:16)… But I believe that the focus we give these things are a hindrance to our enconter with God. I want to challenge any reading this that participates in any of these or anything that the Holy Spirit has been highlighting in your heart to lay down. Take a 21 day media fast, purpose to take an hour aside daily to worship Him, even in addition to time you already spend with Him, and see what happens. After those 21 days of fasting, see if you notice anything when you do these things again. Most of you will notice a dulling in your heart as you participate in these things again. Are you going to hell if you do these things, NO!! That’s not what I’m saying at all, but there is more available and I want you all to take a hold of it and find the greater pleasure.
I used to constantly ask God to send the fire of His Spirit so that anything that stands in the way may be removed. I didn’t want anything to rob me of the fullness. And this ought to still be my prayer and our prayer. God has so much in store for us; to give it up for temporal things that will not endure in eternity is an insult to God’s generosity. The way the author of Hebrews says this same thing is, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). Let us not neglect this great salvation that the Lord has given to us, but let us take a hold of everything that He has made available without letting love for the things of this world and for money keep us from His fullness.