I couldn’t help but gasp at the end of my friend Caroline’s story. When a new neighbor moved in next door, Caroline had rallied the troops in her neighborhood to prepare a warm greeting. She and her friend had planned a feast to take over to welcome the newcomer to their community. Caroline called the new neighbor and was surprised when her hospitality was met with suspicion. “Why did you say that you wanted to bring me dinner?” the new neighbor questioned. Caroline explained that it was a tradition in their area and that they’d like to deliver dinner to welcome her personally. The neighbor responded, “I tell you what—I’ll give you a call when I’m hungry.” Click.
Shocking! Caroline then reflected on how many times we treat God the same way that her new neighbor treated her. Each day God lays out a feast and invites every believer to come eat our fill. I had to ask myself, “How many days do I rush by God’s table and throw an ‘I’ll come when I’m hungry!’ back over my shoulder?” I think I’m full, but God knows that I’m simply ignoring my hunger. I need to sit down daily to eat and be filled from God’s table. Luke 1: 53 says, “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” (NIV)
I long to have a heart to approach Him daily as I am—poor and hungry. He invites me to come to Him so that I can leave rich and full. What a glorious exchange! What a divine pleasure!
Vacationing with Jesus
Daily time enjoying God is essential, but I am envious of one of my pastors. He takes a week each year for a spiritual retreat to a monastery. He goes where it’s quiet and simple and spends a week with Jesus. Maybe someday when my children are older and I’m caught up on laundry I’ll be able to do that, but recently God led me to do something equally wonderful on a smaller scale. I took a spiritual retreat during the school day in a room at my church.
As I walked up the stairs to the empty room, I felt nervous. I had spent hours in prayer with others, but I had never spent this long alone with God before. Would I have enough to say to Him? Would He speak to me in the silence? Would the minutes drag by? Would I walk out unchanged or disappointed?
At the end of the day, my questions were answered. God met me there. We filled our time together with prayer, Bible reading and worship. God spoke words of direction to me in the silence. I came in knowing that I was hungry, and He was faithful to fill me. Having mini-vacations with Jesus is something that I plan to do now at least twice a year. In the midst of ministry, it’s necessary to intentionally set extended time aside to seek His face and worship Him. I’ll still look forward to a week in an abbey, but in the meantime I’ll bask in a school day retreat as I renew my relationship with God and feast on His goodness!
I encourage you to examine the time that you spend with God. Are you like I was? Has your time become regimented and joyless as you prepare for the next event? Are you leaving your time with Him breathless from talking and yet still empty? If that’s true, God is reissuing the invitation—“Come hungry, feast and enjoy!”
This is an excerpt from the book The Reason We Speak. Marybeth Whalen collected chapters written by a variety of speakers on topics important to speakers and paired each chapter with a devotion that she wrote. It’s a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it. I learned a tremendous amount from reading the lessons learned from my speaker-sisters!