One year during a road trip for my high school baseball team, we stopped at Panchoâ€™s, an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet. One of the players, a burly fellow with more facial hair than any tenth-grader should possess, slammed sixteen tacos. That was sixteenâ€¦tacos. Unfortunately, that night we were driving the long road home in a small, cramped van with little ventilation.
This brand of gluttony is easy to spot. Most of us have, at some time or another, overindulged. In fact, many of us spend much of our lives stuffing ourselves with all types of things (relationships, education, sex) in order to assuage the grumbling in our soul. Hunger is common to us all; and, of course, we are not speaking of anything so narrow as carbs and calories. Alexander Schmemann puts it plainly, â€œMan is a hungry being.â€
We would be wrong to presume, as some of our bad theology does, that the Biblical narrative takes issue with our hunger. To the contrary, Scripture assumes that our souls are starved and that we are quite desperate (rightfully so) for relief. What the Scripture steadily resists, however, is the myriad ways we attempt to assuage our hunger in isolation from God. Gregory the Great taught that the problem was not that we want something we shouldnâ€™t, but rather that we grab after our (legitimate) desires â€œtoo soon, too delicately, too expensively, too greedily, too much.â€
In Exodus 16, we find Israel roaming the wilderness, hungry and stricken with panic because they feared they would soon starve in the desert. God responded in a most generous and improbable way. God dropped quail and mannah (a flaky substance tasting something like thin honey crackers) from the sky. The food came with a restriction, however. They were only to gather enough each morning for that day. They were not to gorge or hoard. They were simply to take what they needed, enjoy it, be thankful for it, and then wake the next morning to enjoy another gift from God.
At these daily mealtimes, God intended for His people to know, to remember, to literally taste, that He was the one who satiated their cravings. Each evening, as they ate, â€œthey would know it was the Lord who brought [them] out of Egypt (Ex 16:6). And each morning, as they gathered mannah, they would literally see â€œthe glory of the Lord.â€(Ex 16:7, emphasis mine). All this eating and feasting would culminate in Israel knowing that what they needed most was not quail or bread. They most needed God. Me too. You too.
Man is a hungry being. But he is hungry for God. Behind all the hunger of our life is God. All desire is finally a desire for Him. Alexander Schmemann
|Winn is a writer and pastor. He is the author of Restless Faith and the recent release, Let God: The Transforming Wisdom of Francois Fenelon. Winn is married to his best friend Miska and has two rabble-rousing sons, Wyatt and Seth. You can find out more about Winn by downloading this interview or by hopping over to winncollier.com.|