I had lunch today with a friend and enjoyed a juicy, fat burger with fries and a Diet Coke. (Yes, I’m aware of the irony!) Anyway, my lunch left me full and slightly uncomfortable. The waitress brought the dessert menu and I had less than zero interest in anything it offered. None. Four hours later and it still makes me a little queasy thinking about topping off that lunch with some peanut butter pie or apple crisp. When you’re already full, it doesn’t matter how enticing and delicious more food might be otherwise.
There’s a spiritual principle to be found in this. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 and 6), Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” From my experience, it’s hard to be filled with something, no matter how good, when you’re already full. And how can we hunger or thirst for righteousness–a right relationship with both God and other human beings–when we’re already stuffed to the gills with things not of God? Where is the space for righteousness?
This is the purpose of the spiritual discipline of fasting: to make room for God. The idea is to strip away all the distractions, all the junk food that crowds out God. In Matthew 6, Jesus says to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. That’s the first item on the menu, the best and healthiest sustenance we can get. Yet we gorge ourselves on empty junk and wonder why our spiritual health is atrocious! We have to allow ourselves to get hungry and then partake of the good and righteous that God has for us.
Take some time, cut out the noise and distraction, and ask God for a divine hunger and thirst, one that only He can satisfy. Only then can you be filled with the good stuff!