Not a person alive can escape the reality of appetite. The word most often turns our minds towards food, a good starting point for understanding the complexity of the word.
Our family has been on a wild healthy journey for years. Allergies, and auto-immune have led me down paths of nutrition that I never would have explored otherwise. That journey has taught me a few things, and one of those things stands out to me right now.
Appetite can change.
When we began the journey to a different lifestyle of eating, there were things I introduced to my family that none of us had ever tried before. What is a chia seed, what is plant based milk, and for the love someone tell me what I'm supposed to do with tofu? I remember being overwhelmed at first. I could not fathom a life that didn't include cheese, one of my favorite things to eat. Over time, though, I did find a new rhythm. I found what worked, what was definitely out, and what would be the new staples in our pantry. And you know what surprised me in that journey?
How much my cravings changed.
Where once I would crave a bowl of ice cream, or casserole smothered in cheese (hey...I'm southern) I found those things just didn't appeal to me. When I would eat ice cream, I would get the worst head ache. When I ate anything cheesy, the cheese just tasted like rubber. Many of the things I had eaten before, I had lost my appetite for.
Jesus seemed to understand this simple concept of appetites, as well. In fact, He discusses it with a woman, in the heat of the day, drawing water from a well.
"Can I have a drink?" He asks, having encountered her in the heat of the day, alone at the well just outside her village.
With sarcasm she responds, "Ha! You must be really thirsty if you, a Jew, are asking me, a woman, for a drink."
Jesus isn't ruffled by her bitter sarcasm. He gets it. She's lost her appetite for life. She's been rejected, broken, abused.
"If you knew who I was, and the gift God wants to give you, you would ask me for a drink, and I'd give you living water." Jesus replies, calmly.
She looks him up and down, her face betraying her thoughts that he must be a crazy Jew. "Sir, you don't even have a bucket for water, so where exactly are you going to get this living water? "
Jesus is not deterred. "As long as you continue to drink from this well, you'll always be thirsty. But anyone who drinks from the living water I offer will never thirst again."
Never thirst again.
Jesus sees to the heart of the matter. This woman has lived her life unsatisfied. She comes to this well, in the heat of the day because of her shame, because this world, this life has left her completely empty.
"Well, by all means, give me some of this water, Sir. I could surely use it." She stops her back breaking work of hoisting her water bucket, perches it on the edge of the well, and stares fully into the face of this very odd man.
"Okay. Go call your husband, and come back with him," Jesus replies gently.
She looks away. Down into the deep darkness of the well, that mirrors the condition of her soul. "I'm not married." This man is making her uncomfortable. What does he want from her?
"True. But you have been married five times." Jesus says the words so calmly, so plainly.
"Oh great, you're a prophet. Well, Prophet, where exactly am I supposed to worship? Because my people can't seem to agree with your people." She is clearly agitated.
"The time has come, where anyone who wants to worship, will be free to do so, no matter where they live. Because worship will now be about the heart, no matter where you live." Jesus is standing now, and walks a bit closer to the woman.
"This is all confusing. You are confusing. All I know is someday the Messiah will come and maybe then I'll find some answers." She reaches out to hoist her heavy bucket of water onto her shoulder when he whispers words that seem to echo deep in the cavern of her soul.
"You don't have to wait any longer. I am He."
The woman's life is changed from that day. The first to hear the news, that the Messiah had come. The first evangelist for Jesus. And maybe, just maybe, the first to grasp the truth that at last, at long last, her appetite for peace, love, hope...at last it was all being fulfilled.
The woman Jesus met was bitter, calloused by life. The world's cravings had left her hollowed, empty. But the woman who rushed back to her village to tell everyone about Jesus was a woman who had found a craving worth satisfying.
A woman who, finally, had found the food of life.
Appetite is everything, I say. What I crave, I pursue. The good news is that what I crave can be changed. Just like I changed my eating habit all those years ago, and lost my taste for cheese, the same can happen in my spirit. In a moment, I can encounter King Jesus, who showers my soul with living water, so that my thirst is finally quenched, my appetite finally satisfied.
The odd part of following Jesus is that, though we are satisfied with Him, we continue to crave more of him. He's the only craving I've found, that both satisfies and makes me hungry for more all at once.
What are you craving, friend? Are you like the woman at the well, tired and worn from chasing appetites that have left you hollowed and starved? The hope here is that appetites can change. Cravings can change.
And the truth here, is that as long as you crave and pursue the appetites of this world, you will always be left empty. Like the woman at the well. Shame will find you in that empty place, and tell you you are defeated. Isolation will be your companion in that dark place, where you feed those cravings. Jesus is your only hope for satisfaction. He's the only craving that will nourish your soul.
Jesus, be the craving of my soul. Be the food of my life, the water that quenches my thirst. Let me, like the woman at the well, abandon my water jar, and run into the highways and byways to let others know that I've found it. At long last, I've found the water that quenches my thirst, and the food that satisfies my life.
"All at once, the woman dropped her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, “Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be the Anointed One we’ve been waiting for.” Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.