by Robert Jacobs
Don’t go swimming for thirty minutes after you eat. Feed a cold and starve a fever. Don’t swallow gum or it will be in your stomach for seven years.
Our world is full of “helpful advice” and age old adages. But I have always wondered, just how much of it is true? Juliette Steen, the Huffington Post’s Associate Food Editor, got to thinking the same thing and decided to put one of the oldest medical factoids out there to the test: the widely-held belief that it takes 20 minutes to feel full once you start eating. After conferring with Zane Andrews, an associate professor of physiology and a neuroscientist at Monash University, Steen confirms that it does indeed take about 20 minutes to feel full.
As I reflected on this medical reality—feeling guilty for regularly plowing through my lunch while furiously answering emails—I realized that there was an interesting spiritual dimension to this scientific fact. If it takes us 20 minutes to feel physically full, how long does it take for us to feel spiritually or emotionally full?
This was a question with more significance that needed to be pondered. Many of the people I talk with every week at LHM describe feeling emotionally or spiritually hungry. Why was this? Was it that God had not supplied their needs? After they gave up their sinful relationships, did He leave them to starve?
As I dove into contemplation, I settled on what I think are two primary reasons we do not feel “full.” First, I think that many of us are so busy looking to our need for spiritual and emotional fulfillment that we miss all of the ways that God as indeed met those needs. We become so accustomed to having those needs met in destructive ways, that we cannot see how he is meeting them in healthy ways.
In the prophetic book of Malachi, God says, “Test me in this…and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (3:10) When we give over our life to God, we do not have to worry that he will not meet all of our needs, even our emotional and relational ones.
Now, for those of you out there saying that you have given it over to Him and you still feel empty and alone, I come to my second reason that I think we feel this way. Often, those of us who struggle with sexual and relational brokenness have a VERY particular way that we want God to meet our needs. We have our empty affirmation, attention, and affection buckets waiting to be filled—left empty, for many of us, by past abuse and/or hurt—by a specific person in our life.
The problem comes when God attempts to fill those empty buckets, but we STOP Him from doing so because He is not filling them in the way that we want. He may be trying to provide you affection from a friend at church who gives you a hug every Sunday, but in your mind you overlook that affection because you are lusting after someone else. God may be trying to provide you with attention through a friendship with a co-worker, but you miss that provision because you pine over an old flame. God may be trying to offer you affirmation from an uncle, but you reject it because it is not from your father.
So, what are we to do?
We wait on God. He has told us that he will supply every need…according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Are you waiting on Him? Are you rejecting the ways he is trying to meet your legitimate needs for affection, attention, and affirmation? This week, let’s keep our buckets unguarded, allowing Him to fill us in the way He deems best, waiting on Him to feel full. It may take longer than 20 minutes, but it will be well worth the wait.