by Fr. Karl Dietze
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Have you ever noticed that when you have a craving for a particular food, nothing else will do? I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that when I want chocolate, I can eat countless other delicious things, but still feel no satisfaction – I want chocolate!
That’s the funny thing about appetites – they are very specific in what they want and in what will satisfy them. And when we crave something and can’t get it, it often leaves us restless and anxious. It is true of our physical appetites. It is true of our emotional appetites. It is true of our spiritual appetites.
When Jesus said that He is the bread of life, He is offering to meet the deepest desires of our hearts. He is offering us Life: the deep rest, peace, and satisfaction for which we long. The problem for most of us, though, is that we seek Life in all sorts of other places. Money and possessions, sex and relationships, fame and admiration, comforts and leisure, power and influence, physical appearance and health, knowledge and learning, food and drink, vacations, online followers, media distractions, and on and on. It isn’t that all of these things are bad, although some of them can be, but that none of these things can truly satisfy us and give rest to our longing hearts.
Only Jesus can take away the deep hunger and thirst in our souls. As St. Augustine of Hippo so beautifully put it, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Lent is an opportunity to look at our Life-diets. Where do we seek Life apart from Jesus? Where do we seek peace, rest and satisfaction outside of Christ? Where do we eat countless other delicious things that only leave us restless, bored, anxious and unsatisfied? Lent bids us to look closely at where we seek Life apart from Jesus.
For many of us, though, the question is why, even after knowing this, we continue to feed upon food that cannot fill us? I think it is because, underneath it all, we really don’t trust God to satisfy us. We are afraid that if we give ourselves to Him, we will be let down, we will be disappointed. So we either seek life in things we already know, or we try to seek life in Jesus AND other things in an effort to hedge our bets. We are like little children refusing to eat new foods we have never tried because we already know we won’t like them.
To feast upon Jesus, to find our rest in Him, is to surrender ourselves to Him in loving, trusting obedience. It is to allow ourselves to be loved by the Creator of our souls. It is to cast ourselves upon Jesus trusting in His love and care for us. Surrender and trust are always uncomfortable, but they are the way to peace, rest, and joy.
Fr. Karl ministers at Trinity Anglican Church