The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. Amos 8:11, 12.
In England “just one tenth of the nation’s Christians attend church, and churches are now closing faster than mosques are opening.” (UK Times Online 2007) In 2010 the Pew Research Center data…highlighted the degree to which the European population reported no religious affiliation: France (28%), Germany (24.7%), Italy (12.4%), Netherlands (42.1%), and the United Kingdom (21.3%). By contrast, 16.4% of the United States population is unaffiliated with any religion.
Notwithstanding, is God’s Word being spoken or read from our pulpits and in our Sunday school classrooms every week when we gather? Are we, instead, feeding hungry souls with philosophy, ideology, or humanism instead of the Bread of Life that alone can satisfy human hearts and lives? How can we expect to reach our goals of universal peace without including the Prince of Peace; of empowerment without the Spirit who strengthens us to do all things; of sustainability without calling on the Rock who is the eternal foundation? And however will we know eternal life without encountering the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)?
Yes, there is hunger, even starvation for the Word of God. Sometimes it seems we offer cotton candy when people are craving bread. For our own sustenance, are we seeking opportunities to grow spiritually through the Word? I am often amazed that “cradle” church-goers haven’t yet established the practice of daily Bible reading that’s so essential to nurturing our spirits.
In Psalm 119, traditionally attributed to David, the writer enumerates the many blessings accrued to the one who loves God’s Word, who enjoys it, and who walks in its statutes. God’s Word is “a delight,” it “preserves,” it “gives hope,” it “is precious.” If you haven’t feasted on the 119th Psalm recently, take time now. You will be fed.
The time of Lent is a wonderful time to begin to experience God’s presence through the daily discipline of reading and meditation on his Word. And we can learn, like Samuel, to say, “Speak, for thy servant heareth” (I Samuel 3:10).
Father, arouse us to the need for your Word in our lives and in those around us. Cause us to share the Bread of Life and Living Water rather than temporary platitudes that don’t speak to the deep desires in our souls. Awaken us to the desperate hunger around us. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.