This time of year is one of my favorites for many reasons, not the least of which is that I love all the fruits that are coming into season. One of my most loved is the illustrious cherry.
Sweet with just a tinge of tart and perfectly rouge in color, there’s really nothing quite like a big bowl of fresh cherries.
But I won’t eat just any old cherry. I am only interested in the kind called On Sale Cherries. I have heard talk about another type called Full Price Cherries, and you can be sure I have no interest in those.
On Sale Cherries only make their appearance every so often, so when I see them I have to make the most of the opportunity.
So imagine my excitement some five years ago, when I perused the grocery store circular and discovered that my beloved On Sale Cherries were available for the first time that year.
I had to have them.
But that’s not all I had to have. I needed something else to pair with the cherries to set the whole thing off.
Not just any old chicken wings. Fried chicken wings smothered in barbecue sauce.
Cherries and chicken wings.
I’ll admit it was a bizarre combination, but I had to have it. Right then and there.
So I set out to retrieve said items. Nevermind the fact that the On Sale Cherry grocery store and the barbecue joint were on opposite sides of town. Nevermind the fact that it was wildly inconvenient to drag two toddlers across town on a witch hunt for this unlikely pair of items.
And nevermind the fact that I was six months pregnant and super tired.
I wanted my cherries and chicken wings. But I didn’t just want them.
I craved them.
The new life growing inside of me had changed my desires. It made we want to wholeheartedly pursue experiences and activities that I previously thought were odd, strange or foolish. It gave me unusual cravings that just had to be fulfilled.
This is the same chain of events that occurs when we experience new life in Christ. Through Christ, God imparts new spiritual life to us. This new life gives us new desires. Whereas we once lived to please ourselves, when God gives us new spiritual life, He gives us a deep desire to live in a way that pleases Him.
You know the way that a pregnant woman craves her favorite food of choice? Or even the way an infant craves milk to satisfy its hunger? That’s how God wants you to desire him.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” – I Peter 2:2
To crave. To long for. To pursue intensely. To desire eagerly. This is how God wants us to relate to Him.
The trouble is that sometimes we suppress our cravings.
At times we sense a nudging to pray, read our Bible, seek godly wisdom or participate in some other activity that will nurture our faith, but we find ourselves too tired, busy or apathetic to respond appropriately.
At times we sense a leading to respond to a difficult situation with grace and gentleness, but we find that our desire to vindicate ourselves and make our voice heard wins the day as we react with harsh words and a bad attitude.
We take the longing for Jesus that God gives us as a natural part of our new life in Christ and minimize it, until at times, we are unsure if the longing is still there.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” – Psalm 46:1
Do you long for Jesus in the way that He wants you to? Here are a few questions to consider:
Are you willing to search?
When I set out on my cherry and chicken wing run, I was fully prepared to ride all around town, going to multiple locations of any one store if need be, to find just what I was looking for.
When it comes to your relationship with Jesus, are you willing to search? Or do you easily retreat when the going gets tough?
Are you ready to give up on Bible study after a few days because you don’t understand what you’ve read? Or are you willing to lean in and dig a little deeper for the answers you need?
Have you decided to stop praying because you feel that God doesn’t hear you? Or have you resolved to persevere, believing in faith that God “rewards those who seek Him?” (Hebrews 11:6)
Are you easily deterred?
A friend of mine has a small baby. I love to watch the baby’s response when it’s time to eat. Once she sees her cereal, applesauce or whatever meal she’ll be having that day, her eyes stay fixed on it. She doesn’t let anyone or anything stand between her and her impending meal. You can call her name. You can shake a toy or clap your hands to get her attention, but it’s of no consequence because she’s fixated on her goal.
Do you pursue Jesus like that? Or do the distractions of life constantly pull you away from the One who holds the answers you are looking for?
Are you satisfied with cheap substitutes?
I remember having my first child almost ten years ago and trying to coax her into taking a bottle of formula after being exclusively breastfed for several months. She happily took the bottle at first, but once she realized it was filled with something other than what she truly desired, she quickly backed away.
She was hungry, but she only wanted her hunger satisfied with a particular thing.
What about you? Are you looking to Jesus to satisfy your deepest longings or are you willing to let less fulfilling things, like relationships, popularity or your looks, fill those voids?
Are you willing to be inconvenienced?
Under normal conditions, I am the complete definition of a homebody. Most of the time, I am completely content and entertained inside of my own home enjoying my own company.
But when it came to fulfilling my cherry and chicken wing craving that day five years ago, I was totally willing to pack my other two little ones up and haul them all over town, despite the difficulty of it all.
If we are going to pursue Jesus in the way that He desires, it will not always be comfortable. Nor will it always be convenient. But it will always be satisfying, in spite of any inconvenience or hardship experienced.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
Have you ever wanted something so badly and after you finally received it, you felt disappointed? Cheated, even?
With God, this is never the case. Peter says that we “have tasted that the Lord is good.” (I Peter 2:2)
Yes, pursuing Jesus on this level might look a little strange to the world around you. Just as strange as pickles and ice cream. Or cherries and chicken wings. But once you taste, you will be satisfied. And you will see that He is good.
So crave Him. Chase Him. And find Him. Because He never disappoints.