This is part 5 of a 7-part series on Personal Retreats that Brenda wrote for Everyone a Missionary in 2007. We also ran this series in 2016. Click here if you would like to start at the beginning of the series.
The third faith-factor we learn from Jesus’ time with His Father is: God’s Word was Foundational.
When Jesus was alone in the desert, he fasted. I can imagine his stomach groaning in protest. It had to have growled with hunger. His body grew weak, but his soul feasted in the presence of his Father. At the end of his forty days, Satan laid into him hard, looking for vulnerabilities of the flesh . . . hunger, the desire for recognition and power, the audacity to test our Maker . . . and Jesus fought back, not with the supernatural power available to him as the Creator of the universe, but with the power of God’s Word. The very same power available to all followers of God, both then and now.
Because of the power of God’s Word, we can approach these sacred promises from a position of expectant reverence.
John Ortberg, in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted reminds us that
. . . The goal is not for us to get through the Scriptures. The goal is get the Scriptures through us . . . Meditation (on God’s Word) is as slow as the process by which the roots draw moisture from the flowing river to bring nurture and fruitfulness to a great tree. Meditation is important enough to be mentioned more than fifty times in the Old Testament . . . The Psalmist says that fruitful living comes to the person who meditates on the law “day and night.”
Extended times of personal retreat allow God’s children to focus on the quiet joy of meditating deeply on His Word.
For three months this past year I developed a stomach condition that sabotaged both my appetite and my ability to eat. I lost 15 pounds without an ounce of will power. Food became repulsive. It doubled me over in pain after only a few bites. After many tests, we discovered that my stomach muscle was no longer working properly. Thankfully, four rounds of medication each day allow me to now eat pain-free. Food is no longer repulsive, but a hearty appetite is only slowly reappearing.
This medical adventure created a new appreciation for appetite. It’s never been an issue for me. In fact, I’ve generally wrestled with having too much of an appetite, as the creeping numbers of my bathroom scale reveal. But thanks to this “adventure,” I have a new prayer for me and those I love. “Lord, make us hungry – insatiably hungry for You and Your Word.”
Without hunger, without an appetite for the things of God, we are only in the business of force-feeding. Force-feeding is a joyless experience. But for those who are hungry, the banqueting table is ours. The feast is ready, and a table-for-two is waiting for each of us. But we must be hungry.
Listen to the words of Isaiah as he cries out to the people to hunger and thirst for the word of the Lord:
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest fare.
Give eat and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, faithful love promised to David.
Hebrews 4:12 proclaims, “For the word of God is living and active. . .” This truth came alive when my son, Joseph, was in Kindergarten and not yet able to read. Coming home from Sunday school one day, it was obvious a hunger had been ignited in his soul for the power and winsome-wonder of God’s Word.
“Mommy,” he said, while taking my Bible from my hands. “Do you know that God’s words are in this book? These are God’s words, not just people words!” “Daddy,” he said, leading my husband, Tim, to a chair. “You got to start reading it to me. Right now! And you have to start at the beginning, because I don’t want to miss anything He has to say.”
A table-for-two is set today. Let’s not miss anything he has to say.
Does “Great Expectation” play a role in your devotional life?