Some days, my kids wake up absolutely ravenous. From the moment their eyes open in the morning, their only thought seems to be, “Feed me!” This was especially true in their toddler years, but now that I have a teen and a tween, this modus operandi seems to be back! Those are the weeks that a bunch of eight bananas will vanish in two days.
But then, there are stretches of time where they don’t seem to eat enough to keep a bird alive. They wake up and start to shuffle through their morning routine, but when I urge them to eat breakfast, they moan, “I’m not huuuungry.” There’s no underlying malady – they’re just a little peckish. It takes coaxing or downright parental orders to get them to eat a tiny granola bar or a yogurt cup! Those are the weeks when a bunch of eight bananas goes untouched and turns completely black on the counter (and eventually becomes banana bread).
I’ve noticed similar seasons of hunger and peckishness for God’s Word in my own life. There are times when I’m hungry — starving, even — for more of Scripture. I wake up every morning eager to dive in to my Bible, and all day long I’m drawn to meditate on what I read, or to go deeper by listening to a sermon, talk, or worship music. But, to be honest, there are also times when I’m just not hungry. I don’t feel like consuming the Word. I might choke down a verse or two, but my attitude is a lot like a whiny kid being forced to eat a granola bar before school.
Our kids’ varying hunger levels are based on dozens of factors. They may be more or less hungry, just because:
- They’re having a growth spurt
- They’re more or less active than usual
- The weather is impacting their appetite
- Their taste buds are changing
- They’re going through a phase of focusing on just one or two preferred foods
In other words, it’s both normal and healthy for our kids’ appetites and intake to change from day to day and from year to year. It’s part of their growth.
But what about believers and God’s Word? Is it normal and healthy for us to crave the Word at times and reject it with an upturned nose at other times?
I’d like to propose this: perhaps it’s “normal” –in that, it’s commonplace and most believers can relate to the experience– but it’s not healthy, and it’s not what God desires for us or from us.
I can think of a few reasons why my spiritual appetite lags. Do any of these resonate with you?
- There’s unrepentant sin in my life.
- I’m in a vicious cycle: not enough time for God’s Word, so I put it off, which makes me feel guilty for neglecting it, so I avoid it when I do have even a few minutes, which leads to feeling like there’s not enough time… lather, rinse, repeat.
- There’s a physical trigger (mental health issues, chronic pain, devastating diagnosis) which I’m addressing only on a physical level.
- I’m distracted by lots of perfectly harmless time-wasters.
On the other hand, feasting on God’s Word is satisfying in a way that no meal ever is. When I’m “eating well” of Scripture, I can walk away feeling full and nourished — and at the same time, primed and ready for the next time I’ll sit down at the table. The more I take in of the Bible, the more I crave it. It’s a different cycle than those vicious, destructive ones which condemn us and convince us we’re doing things all wrong. When I’m regularly reading and responding to Scripture, I notice:
- I truly want to spend more time with the Word, so I get creative – using audioBible versions, podcasts of sermons or uplifting meditations on Scripture, and worship music to keep my mind set on God throughout the day.
- I avoid ‘bad influences’ – whatever might otherwise tempt me to get lost in distraction – more easily.
- I find verses coming to mind and on the tip of my tongue, ready to offer encouragement or wisdom to my family and my friends.
My heart is lighter and more joyful when it’s filled with Scripture and the Holy Spirit. I bet yours is, too. And on that note, I’m excited to share a new project I’ve just launched: Plain & Simple Bible Study.
It’s my heartfelt belief that every single Christian is capable of picking up God’s Word, reading it for understanding, and being transformed by its truth. However, I meet so many folks who feel unequipped to dive in to the Bible on their own. These studies are designed with simple prompts and questions to help you think with clarity about your Bible: what is the text saying? What does it mean? How does it apply to my life?
A 6-week study of 1 John is available now, and Ephesians is coming soon. These free printables are great for individual or group use, and their aim is to help everyone push past their peckishness and eat well of God’s Word.
I hope and pray that Plain & Simple Bible Studies will give more believers the tools they need to create a habit of Scripture study that will flourish in their lives. Please check it out, and share it widely.