“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
Psalm 84:1-2

“Man is a hungry being. But he is hungry for God.”
Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World

“Everyone…hungers for something.
Some hunger for food.
Others hunger for community.
Or beauty.
But we all hunger.”
~Susan Sides~

My season after high school graduation led me to a Bible college to pursue Deaf Culture Ministry. It was a picturesque two-hour drive from our farm to I.O.Miller Hall, of which my friend Kimmy was known to say “I owe Miller a lot!” I spent a lot of time in Miller Hall, as the women’s residence hall was situated at the top. It was here that I delved into the depths of spiritual growth, some emotional riptides, as well as some amazing spirit-charged music in the worship ministry and choral groups that I was a part of.

My primary major was Deaf Culture Ministry. I soaked in the visual language and the syntax of American Sign Language in classes and in Deaf Chapel sermons. I lingered with Deaf students, both on campus and off, although breaking into their sub-culture was easier said than done. As a matter of clarity, “deaf” is an adjective to describe a physical characteristic; a capitalized “Deaf” would refer to the culture of a person. A person can be deaf and not culturally Deaf.

To this day, I yet recall one conversation I had with a Deaf woman about her faith, or boastful lack there-of. I was attempting to engage her in questions about her faith, asking if she had ever felt a spiritual hunger. Her response was a resounding No! as if the idea was preposterous, and I felt self-conscious, wondering if somewhere along the line I had used the wrong sign.

The sign for “hunger” is made by forming a “c” with your hand and sliding it down the middle of your chest. Visually, it’s representing your food as it traces the path of your esophagus into your stomach. This is also the same sign as “wish” or “desire.” So when I asked this woman about her spiritual hunger, I signed something to the effect of “Don’t you feel hunger or desire for God?” Her response of disdain, as if desiring God was something she had never considered before, concerned me.

Here I was in a season of my life where I was searching for Truth, and my encounter with this woman, who obviously did not consider that kind of search a priority in her life, left me feeling baffled.

Certainly, the spiritual hunger within me was carefully cultivated by my parents. Does that mean my hunger for God was predisposed, or was it something that was cultivated? I did not “cultivate” my son’s craving for carbohydrates and sugar, yet his hunger hankerings consistently steer him to grab fast and easy carbs in spite of my attempts to cultivate his desire for fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m not suggesting carbs and sugar are culprits of evil and to steer clear of them; they are insentient, and this—a simple metaphor. What I am suggesting is that this type of scenario might lead us to the conclusion that we do have tendencies to a predisposition toward something. We all, having been born into a broken world, have a predisposition toward a sin nature. The good news is that there is a remedy. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that

“He has set eternity in the human heart,”

“for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities…have been clearly seen…so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 NIV).

While I maybe didn’t convince the woman of her need for God, I can pray that the conversation that took place so many years ago left some seeds that eventually stirred up some questions, and ultimately that she had a God encounter that caused her perspective to shift from rejecting God to hungering for Him.

As to my child’s sometimes wayward appetite, I can continue to praise his current healthy vibes while setting out alternatives to the lesser cravings. I can be grateful, in the meantime, to be an influential instrument in developing or steering those hunger signals, helping create the momentum and hunger toward the better things, both physically and spiritually.

As Bill Johnson writes in Raising Giant-Killers, “we must teach children the ways of loving God…it is in creating a momentum that will make sense once they have their personal encounter with God. It is what we do as parents; we set them up for their destiny in God” (p.99-100).

“My soul longs and even faints for You
For here my heart is satisfied within Your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings.
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere.”
~Better Is One Day~

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 34:80

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