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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mixed signals

Our cravings reveal much about the condition of our hearts.  The more we "crave" for the things we know won't do us much good, or perhaps even do us some harm, the more we can count on the fact we are a little further away from God's heart than we may want to be.  Our cravings are kind of like a "barometer" for our soul - we can often see how our mind, will and emotions are guiding us into some "stormy" weather!  Craving is a form of "begging" - we want something so badly our mind and emotions are playing on our will to get us to fulfill whatever it is we are craving so desperately for.

God won’t starve an honest soul, but he frustrates the appetites of the wicked. Blessings accrue on a good and honest life, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.  A good and honest life is a blessed memorial; a wicked life leaves a rotten stench.  (Proverbs 10:3, 6-7 MSG)

Most of us with the privilege of actually being able to access the internet by means of our smartphones, tablets, PCs, or other electronic device are not very familiar with what "starvation" entails in the sense of our physical bodies.  In fact, we have probably lived pretty blessed lives - with most of us never missing a meal without purposeful intent.  Yet, I imagine there may be some who read these words who have experienced the deep, agonizing hunger of physical body due to the inability to procure food on occasion.  The concept of starvation can go way beyond the hunger pangs of our stomachs. There is something we can learn from our physical hunger and how our bodies respond to it, though.

God made us to have physical hunger.  We also have emotional hunger and this is often expressed in our desires.  We yearn or desire certain things within relationship, as a matter of accomplishment, or by some means of praise or recognition which will satisfy these emotional needs.  On the other hand, when these emotional needs are not met, we look to fulfill them perhaps in ways not particularly honoring of our own worth or of the will of God for our lives.  One of the things we need to see is how God made our bodies to respond to physical hunger and how this can apply to the other types of hunger we may struggle with from an emotional standpoint.

Did you know that you have a small center in your brain which actually controls your physical hunger.  Those pangs in your stomach are a result of the signals traveling from stomach to brain, sending signals into your "mental thought" which make you aware it is time to eat a meal.  This "signaling" effect will only go on for so long.  Ignore it long enough, and it goes away.  It isn't that the hunger doesn't exist any longer, it is that you are not as aware of it - it doesn't nag at you.  Now, in any area of our lives where we struggle to keep certain desires (hunger) under control, I wonder what might just happen if we ignore the constant "signals" for a while?  Perhaps the hunger for what we shouldn't really have, or for that which will only bring us emotional upheaval will become duller and duller until we no longer are being nagged by it!

In these three verses, God focuses on the "good life" - the life of honor. Honesty is another term for a trustworthy life.  What is being said is that the life which has learned to hold emotions "in balance" - not allowing one or another of those emotions to get us all out of balance - will find a special place of blessing.  Honest lives are those which have integrity (sincerity) built into them - you can trust what "signals" are being sent and responded to. There is nothing more frustrating to us than always receiving "mixed" signals and then having to sort them out to figure out which one to respond to.  It is like the moments when I want a snack, think about the apple sitting right in front of me, but remember the roll of Sweet Tarts in the drawer!  Mixed signals need a place to be sorted out - so God made us with minds which can use the faculties of reasoning and sound judgment.

When our reasoning and judgment may not be in balance with God's plan because they are being influenced by the constant "nagging" of some emotional "signal" we are being bombarded with, we often make bad decisions.  The end results is a lot of guilt, a sense of having failed again, and a general feeling that we will never get this right.  Perhaps what we need to do is ask God to help us develop the ability to ignore the signals long enough to let the nagging subside.  I wonder what might just happen if we were to pray this prayer and then let God turn our mind from its focus on those "signals" toward him for a while.  I bet we might just find those "signals" get shut down in the light of his presence!  Just sayin!