I had an opportunity recently to attend a conference in my home state of Indiana. The conference was amazing, but I also appreciated the side benefit of getting back home to enjoy some Indiana soul food. You know what 'soul food' is, right? It's that food that satisfies us deep down and takes us to happy places. While in Indiana, I ate pork tenderloins, fried mush, and Port-a-pit chicken -- those things which satisfy my Hoosier palate.
It's funny what people crave. We've all heard the stories of strange things consumed by women during pregnancy. Our cravings come from what our body needs at that moment, they just need to be re-directed toward what satisfies our needs in a healthy way. I saw this recently: "I hate it when I think I'm buying organic vegetables, but when I get home they're just regular donuts!"
Twice in the Gospels, Jesus asked someone, "What do you want?"
In the first story, a couple of John the Baptist's disciples started to follow Jesus when he walked by, and he turned around and asked, "What do you want"? I think Jesus knew the guys were following him because they wanted to learn from him. They already had a hunger for God -- they were hanging out with John in the wilderness. Their appetite for the things of God was already strong. Why see the tribute band when you can see the real thing, right?
So they got up and followed him.
Sometimes when Jesus asks, "What do you want?", he is asking us, "What are you craving? What is your spirit longing for? Are you hungry for what God alone can give you?"
A man went to a restaurant and noticed the specials on the board at the door: CHICKEN TONGUES. When the waitress came around, she asked if he had seen the specials to which he replied, "That's disgusting! I'd never eat something that came out of a chicken's mouth." So she said, "What'll you have then?" to which he replied, "I'll have the eggs."
It's strange the things we swallow in life. I think God gives us the appetite of a seeker that can only be filled with himself -- but we consume a whole lot of other things to attempt to satisfy us.
The second story involves a blind guy sitting outside the city gate begging. When he hears Jesus passing by, he calls out for mercy. Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you? (which seems like an unnecessary question, if you ask me!). He replied, "I want to see."
Sometimes when Jesus asks, "What do you want?", he is asking about our deepest need. The Gospels are filled with the stories of people who were met by Jesus' mercy at their place of deepest need. The Creator has designed our life to draw strength and sustenance from the Source. He is able to meet us in weakness, and he says to us, "When you are weak, I AM strong." Weakness and brokenness remind us of our need for God and the limitations of our life without him.
So what do you want?