I’m a loyal Costco shopper. I was before getting married, after getting married, and even moreso after having a child. I love everything about it. I love the deals on household appliances, on clothes, and especially on the frozen organic fruit and vegetable section. And did you know about their gas prices? Anywho, on any given week, you'll find me strolling the aisles of Costco, breathing in the familiar fragrance of…bland air.
A couple of weeks ago, I walked down an aisle containing endless amounts of chips. For anyone who knows me, I love quality potato chips. So I grabbed a bag of the Kirkland’s Krinkle cut kettle chips with the Himalayan salt.
In no time I was driving on a Chicago highway with one hand on the wheel and the other hand effortlessly mining through this huge bag of chips like a professional.
The chips were so good that I found myself eating them a couple of days later... for breakfast. No warm water with lemon. No supplements. No smoothie. Instead, I couldn’t wait to taste the pure saltiness and greasiness of these chips right when I first woke up. It didn’t end there though. My cravings turned into wanting salt’s feigned cousin... sugar. Therefore, shortly after, I found myself eating some good dark chocolate and vegan ice cream for dinner. No lentils. No sweet potatoes. No salad. I didn’t care. Let’s just say, I enjoyed myself.
How’d I end up there? It’s really not that deep. Through a set of daily choices, I quickly trained my tastebuds to crave fat, salt, and sugar.
What is deep though, is how often we end up developing spiritual cravings that are just as strong and just as unhealthy. Things that once gave us periodic pleasure become items we can’t live without.
Allow me to explain.
During the week of my potato chip episode, I coincidentally had been struggling in my relationship with God. Simply put, I’d been avoiding Him.
Nothing major happened that caused this shift in my pursuit of the Lord. In fact, life was going well. The moments of me coming close to insanity as a stay at home mom, with a new child, were becoming less frequent. My husband and I were in a really good place maritally. And my schedule was becoming more pleasant on a day to day basis. So things were good. But for whatever reason, I found myself avoiding God. Call it a spiritual attack... or spiritual laziness, but all I know is, deep down, getting through the day become more of a priority than encountering God throughout my day.
Here’s how it happened and how I came to the realization.
First my mornings became more busy than usual. One day led to another and I found myself not spending time alone with God. In doing this, I started to feel an odd loneliness. Almost like an emptiness. But I was feeling it unconsciously because I didn’t make the connection between my lack of spending time with God and this empty feeling.
Therefore, I chose to busy myself more to escape the feeling. The more time that passed, the more the idea of reading the Bible appeared less appealing and more burdensome (see how Satan works?). Housework and Podcasts appeared as more credible escapes and outlets then plugging into the Ultimate Source.
Suddenly, I had everything to do and so little time to do them.
But secretly, I didn’t mind. Because deep down, I desired to hide behind my schedule as the reason why I couldn’t spend time in God’s Presence (or rather in the awareness of His Presence). Anytime I did squeeze my devotional somewhere in the day, I dreaded it and mainly did it out of obligation.
Everything culminated when my husband had to go out of town for work. I’m used to him traveling, but this time, I felt down even before he left. Like I was sad an entire 48 hours before he left. Once he did leave, an incredible level of loneliness shrouded my being and before I knew it, I felt myself craving noise. Be it social media, youtube videos, even good sermons. I needed some kind of noise to distract me from what I was feeling.
I felt myself literally turning to everything else...except God.
With my husband being gone, I found myself with more time on my hands and even more excuses as to why I just didn’t have to just “Be still and know that He was God.”
On the second or third day of my husband’s absence, my son and I sat down to read a children’s book gifted by his grandparents. The book was entitled “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin and Josh Barrett. This activity was not out of the usual, because I attempt to read at least one story to my son every day (even though I sometimes wonder if my son appreciates my voice inflections, sound effects, and careful pauses between pages, since he often chooses to chew on another book or open and close drawers a few feet away).
But that day as I read, something strange happened. My son decided to chew on another book as usual. But the strange part was that I myself became unawaringly engrossed in the storyline of this new book. This little bear was hoping to bring the perfect gift to the King in order to win the King’s approval. Therefore, taking the advice of so many different animals, the little bear brought the King a plethora of gifts. But by the end of the story, the little bear realized that all the King wanted was the little bear. The little bear was the perfect gift. Y’all, I got choked up.
I felt the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention. There was a brief pause. A brief moment in which I felt my Lord waiting for me to respond to His open invitation for me to simply walk through the door and return to our usual communion.
But I craved more noise. The dishes could be washed. Another blog post could be written. I could return more calls and texts. Baby Evan needed my attention. And so I ignored the brief trickled tear and busied myself on to the next task.
But everything reversed through one habit the Lord taught me to implement later on that week. It made me stop in my tracks, stop running from Him without reason, and retract from the noise and distraction.
Here it is—Choose God first in the morning.
Not because you “have to,” but because you get to. Similar to how a salty chip set off my taste buds for the day towards craving salt and sugar, what you initially feed your Spirit can set a trajectory for what you inwardly desire throughout the day.
I realize now that it is critical for me to begin my day hearing God’s whisper before I amp up the noise. What I mean by this is that before I listen to the news, turn on a video, check my text messages, and scroll through social media, I can hear God so much more clearly when I choose Him first.
I can also feel most satisfied when I allow my hunger to be met by His manna before I devour empty junk. This is not meant to be legalistic. Literally just 2 days ago, I set out to do my devotional and baby Evan had a huge blowout which caused me to have to give him a bath and then I decided to shower and then he was hungry...and so the day went. But whenever the Lord graces my day to do so, it’s been a joy to wake up with His love and His Word being the first thing to quench my thirst.
Sometimes this looks like me devouring just one verse, and sometimes this looks like me devouring a couple of chapters. Sometimes this looks like me journaling and praying and worshiping for half an hour and sometimes this looks like me only being able to say a quick prayer before the baby wakes up. Lately, this has looked like me waking up and simply not doing anything but stopping and receiving God’s love by asking “Abbah Father, how much do you love me? What do you love about me?” and then simply basking in His love so that I can love others. My point is this: Choose God first. I deeply believe He will honor your time with Him when you do this. Just try it!
(Why do I think this habit is so effective? I don’t believe God desires to compete with your noise. I often desire for Him to yell and scream over the bussiness of my life in order to grab my attention. But what I’m learning is that He loves to whisper. Anyone can yell to someone miles away. But a whisper is heard to the one who is nearby. He loves when we are close! He doesn’t move, but we often wander.)
What do you feed yourself at the start of your day? What do you allow your eyes to consume when you first wake up? Do you check your email, social media, or text messages first thing? Do you turn up the noise before hearing God’s whisper? I challenge you to set out by choosing the Lord’s manna, which is His Word, and talking to the Lord first. When you do, share with me and with others what happens.