I think a lot about hunger – both physical and spiritual hunger. I love food: the making of it, the sensory experience of food, photographing it, smelling it, and eating it. I love to share food with others and teach them how to to make what I can, or learn from them what they create that is new to me. I’m amazed at how many parallels there are between physical food and spiritual food, and as much as I love a good meal, spiritual nourishment is far more important to me.
I realize that I often settle, in the physical realm, for food that’s temporarily satisfying, but in the end, leaves me hungry. As a mom of littles, I’d fly by the counter and grab the crust and crumbs of my kids’ leftover sandwiches and then wonder why I was “starving” at 4 in the afternoon. In the same way, I often graze on spiritual “fast food,” and then wonder why I’m impatient, lacking in wisdom, tempted to speak unkindly of someone, easily afraid, or any number of other kinds of immature. I wonder, when I try to get by on spiritual crumbs, why my heart is hungry.
I shared this thought at Sal et Lux last week, and I’ve been chewing (rather, more accurately, stewing) on it ever since. I am personally challenged as I think about this statement, because I realize so often both physically and spiritually, I’m tempted to be satisfied with crumbs. Or worse, I’ll settle, in a pinch, for physical or spiritual fast-food, that doesn’t just leave me unsatisfied; it endangers me, body and soul.
Spiritual fast food, like the drive through stuff with which we sometimes feed our faces, is dangerous, because it gives us a false sense of nourishment.
What is spiritual fast food? I believe it’s the little nuggets of half-truths, feel-good-statements, and snippets of scripture, even, that make us temporarily feel good about ourselves and our spirituality, but don’t actually nourish us with a complete “meal” of truth, as defined by the whole of the Bible. It might be the pretty quote (even scripture) that I “like” on Instagram, or the podcast I listened to by an inspirational speaker. Maybe it’s even the short devotional writing I read on my phone or in the book I keep in the guest bathroom. (Do you do this, too?!) Spiritual fast food is like a treat for my heart. It’s often a good thing, but it’s not the best thing. It’s more like a snack, and less like a filling meal.
There’s a trend going around in women’s circles that I think of as “spiritual fast food.” We find little devotional books that claim to put all we need to know in little bite-sized pieces, easily digested in just a few short minutes, or we watch snippets on social media, and think we’ve filled our spiritual selves.
Does that mean it’s wrong to read a short devotional or listen to an encouraging song about God or life? To read a feel-good book or watch a show that lifts our spirits? No. I’m also not heaping guilt on you if you’re a busy mama or caring for an elderly parent, working two jobs or serving others with your time. I’m a mom of five, and I’ve worked at least part-time while raising our home-educated kids… and I’m a serial creator-of-stuff-and-stuffer-of-schedule, so I know what it feels like to be rushed… to ever feel the weight of busy. I also remember well what it was like to be in a season of babies and toddlers who were up before the birds (I promise it settles, mama-friend-of-littles – just in time for them to want to stay up till hours talking, if we’re fortunate). Sometimes we have to settle for “snacks” in a short season, because it’s genuinely all we can get.
It’s awesome to follow an account on social media that challenges and encourages, (Gracelaced on instagram makes my heart happy, and I have tons of other inspiring social media accounts that grab my attention!) and we know from Paul’s teaching that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23). But we have to be careful that these little treats don’t become our full diet.
I am a chocolate girl. I melt for dark chocolate, and if it’s laced with espresso or crunchy cacao nibs, I’m all the happier. But no matter how healthy, or raw, or naturally sweetened I find or make my chocolate, if it’s all I eat, day in and day out, I’m in trouble. I’m going to soon be nutritionally lacking or packing on the pounds, and I won’t have helped myself be well nourished. I’ve got to eat a variety of foods that have good fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.
In the same way, I have to feed myself spiritual meat, by “eating” God’s word.
I’m in NO way wanting to heap guilt on you if you are genuinely in a season where your primary ministry (your husband and children, if you have them) means you have to be creative about learning from God what He wants to teach you. I am not trying to burden you that you have to carve out hours each day to read your Bible, else you’ll be spiritually emaciated.
I do want to encourage you, though, to make that “meat” a priority, even over “good things” like devotional books and uplifting Christian podcasts. I want to challenge you, friend, to be intentional about getting good food, spiritually speaking. That means reading the Bible, itself, as often as you can. Try to read whole chunks (full chapters and books), so that you can put the text and message in context. Be intentional about understanding and applying the Bible to how you live.
I’ve created a printable to encourage you as you make a point to grow deep. Print it out, tape it into your journal or on to the wall in a little corner, and be encouraged as you make spiritual nourishment a priority.
If you’d like a couple more resources, here are some good ones, with thoughts on more in-depth Bible study:
Awesome resource for inductive Bible study>
This post has a powerful question to ask when you read the Bible (because it’s all about knowing Him better…)
As an easily distracted girl, I enjoyed this encouraging post.
How is God challenging you to eat “good food,” spiritually speaking? Do you have tips for how to dig in deeper? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Much love, friend.