One morning during my junior year of college, I sat in the dining commons for breakfast with the Gospel of John open in front of me. I was reading the sixth chapter, one of my favorite chapters in Scripture even still to this day.
This section opens with Jesus feeding the five thousand, followed by his walking on water to meet his disciples across the sea. The next day the now-hungry crowd finds Jesus, and after a short conversation with them he says these breathtaking words:
I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
This passage has been absolutely crucial in my spiritual journey because it defines the essence of saving faith. Most of my life, I’ve thought of faith mainly as a decision based on knowing some facts about God.
Instead, faith is about coming to Jesus in such a way that the deepest hungers and thirsts of our souls are satisfied in him.
This truth was particularly poignant as I sat eating my cereal — due to the fact that I was hopelessly in love with a straight guy who I knew would never feel the same way about me. My heart was an explosion of seemingly meaningless desires, and I had no idea what to do with them.
I cried myself to sleep on a regular basis.
I honestly don’t remember what prompted me to do this at the time, but I decided to capture my thoughts and feelings in the form of a poem. I don’t consider myself a poet nor do I have much of a repertoire, but I do find myself returning regularly to this particular piece in moments when the longings of my heart feel overwhelming.
I lie in pain and anguish as one who longs for life
My soul feels cold and heavy from fighting with this strife
And here I read this promise as one who dies of thirst
As one who feels the hunger, whose heart will surely burst
“I am the bread of life” he says and turns me to his face
“I shed my blood to purchase you so you would know my grace”
“And as my Father draws you in I will not let you go”
“When you believe, out of your heart will living waters flow”
I stare at him with eyes agape not knowing what to say
He’s promised me eternal life, to raise me on that day
Can these hunger pangs compete with such relentless love?
Can satisfaction truly come by manna from above?
The white hot tears begin to flow as anger fills my chest
Does he not know of endless nights where I could find no rest?
“What makes you think that you can fill this void within my heart?”
“You think you know this pain of loss that’s grieved me from the start?”
“Aren’t you the one who filled my soul with songs of love and dreams?”
“And then without a second thought, you’d tear me at my seams”
The air grows still and silence stirs between my Lord and I
That look of love that fills his face now makes me want to die
His eyes are filled with kindness, such great power yet so meek
He holds me in his presence and then begins to speak
“Beloved son, I long that you would see beyond these lies”
“That you would know that I am he who answers your heart’s cries”
“Do you think I’ve not seen the ways you’ve tried to fill within?”
“Your desperate ache for peace and joy cannot be quenched with sin”
“I gave my life to break your chains, to finally set you free”
“Your hope for life and wholeness is only found in me”
“I am the treasure that you seek, the strength you long to feel”
“So come my child, taste and see, my love for you is real”
He then begins to wipe my eyes and in his arms I’m pulled
He whispers to me precious words and promises of old
His satiating, perfect peace begins to fill each limb
And finally I understand that I was made for Him
No matter your sexuality or gender. No matter your socioeconomic class or upbringing. No matter your age or marital status.
Every human being you’ve ever encountered was made to have his or her soul satisfied in Jesus — yourself included.
When have you found yourself the most satisfied in Jesus? To what other types of “bread” have you turned in order to fill the hunger and void inside?