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A Pastor In Peril

What Are You Really Hungry For?

Is eating too much cake sinful? Well, you might not think it merits so serious an accusation; and yet you also know – from anecdote or experience – that too much of anything can leave you feeling as though you’ve let yourself down. Yourself…or God!

As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, I recently had an operation for oesophageal cancer. Up to that point, I’d always had a healthy (= unhealthy, as it turns out) appetite. It started in my early teenage years, when I regularly engaged in nocturnal expeditions to raid the cake tin! Now, you’ve probably done that yourself every so often; but mine really was a clockwork, mindless, obsessive routine. And even worse, I expected no-one to notice! – Until, of course, someone did.

Creeping downstairs as usual, I opened the pantry door, wrenched the lid off the cake tin, and found…big fat nothing except a scrap of paper bearing a message in my mother’s handwriting:

You only think you’re hungry!

A pang of guilt penetrated my gut like an icicle, and I instantly became aware of my sin. I had been evading it for years – all the while wondering why I was feeling so uncomfortable in my skin. From that point on, I gained the insight…and, looking back on my Christian life, I can now see how sin has separated me from knowing God better. Every time I have tolerated any sinful practice in my life, it has blurred my vision of God. Oh, it’s all too easy to have sinful thoughts and deceive my fellow sinners; but God is not deceived. God knows everything that we think, feel, do, and intend to do – just as my mother had known that I had been creeping round and consuming cake like a ravening rat!

What message do we take from this? Well, the penalty of sin is not (as conscience may tell us) being found out by family and friends: the penalty of sin is losing touch with God.

I am a Pastor; and, in my quest for God, I have read theological material until I’ve become jaded with it. And finally, at this late stage, I’ve acquired the insight to put the frantic literary search on hold, and ask myself: “What am I lacking?”

The real barrier to the vision of God, you see, nearly always lies within. We have no need to grope morbidly in the maze of our minds. All we need to do is sit quietly for just five minutes, and ask ourselves what’s missing, what we’re really in search of, what kind of spiritual experience will fill that inner void.

Once we find the answer to that, we’ll know what requires our immediate attention. And putting that knowledge to the forefront of our minds – rather than evading it, as I did for years – we’ll have more than enough to be going on with for today…and for tomorrow…and for the rest of our lives.

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