“Get your church shoes and I’ll help you put them on.”
“Is it a church day?” he says, and then he sighs. “Is it going to be a long church?” I don’t like his attitude, though I understand. How long will we be sitting still? How long must I be quiet? How long will I be forced to leave other tasks undone while I sit in a pew?
Later that same morning, he complained again: “When will church be over mama?” He flopped himself back on the pew, bumping his brother who responded with a fist that I barely intercepted before it hit his nose. My heart did NOT overflow with patience and compassion, to put it mildly. I wondered when church would be over, too.
There in that pew, I fought the battle I always fight- the one between love and selfishness, obedience and rebellion. The old nature longed to fall to temptation, to resent or pout or discipline for my good and not his. The new nature tried to fight. And that new self was proven a weakling.
And it was there in my failure that I saw it: the soul-hunger. The attacks and temptations in my life are too much for me, and I am too weak to fight them on my own. My soul was shaky and weak, like a body with low blood sugar. And yet there I was, sitting at the table overflowing with exactly the food my soul needs.
“Take and eat,” I’m told. “Receive what you need from your Father. You are soul-hungry. Sit and be fed.”
Why is this so difficult? Physical need is easier to accept, I think. When I call, “Lunch is ready, boys!” they come running. Not one drags his feet. Not one walks slowly, with dread, asking me questions in fear like, “Will there be too much food? Do I really have to eat?” I don’t whine about mealtime either. My body needs food, and not only that, but eating is pleasant. In fact, the hungrier I am, the more I enjoy the food I eat.
Soul hunger is something I feel too, but like a child begging for ice cream when he really needs nourshing food, I try to meet this need by filling myself with empty calories.
Distraction fails. Naps do not refresh me for long. Escape only delays the inevitable. And then, my kind Father brings me to the Divine Service; He sits me at the table so that He can wait on me, fill me with exactly what I need.
Those who are blind to their need complain, “Will it be a long church? Is it almost over?” When my son said that to me for the third time, I replied, “We are hearing God’s Word right now. This is the most important thing you will do today- maybe all week long. So sit down.”
I need to hear this, too:
Take and eat.
Hear and take to heart.
Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.
Feast on what truly satisfies.
Sit, and enjoy a nourishing meal; a long church; a church decadent and rich with the Word of God, permeated with Christ himself poured out for your soul and mine. Make time to feast at home, on God’s rich Word, on the nourishment that you truly need.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.