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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hunger for the Word

(Matthew 5:6 KJV) Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Is it possible to be hungry for a relationship with God without being hungry for the Word of God? I am sure this question will provoke a litany of quick responses. However, as I have thought about this question over the years...I have come to the conclusion that the answer is not necessarily a quick yes or no.

Over the years I have known folks that have walked very close to God and lived as much of a holy life as one could live, but spent very little time reading the Bible. On the other hand I have known folks that have spent hours a day reading the Bible, but seemed to have little personal relationship with God. This is not meant to imply that one cannot have both a hunger for the Word of God and a hunger for a relationship with God…but one does not necessarily equal the other.

Growing up in the 30s, 40s and 50s most hardworking folks would not even think about not having a Bible in their home. They found great comfort in being able to look at it on the table or hold it in church on Sunday. The word it contained was total truth, and provided promise, hope and healing for them even though they spent little to no time actually reading it. Knowing many of them as I did, I would never question their relationship with the Lord.

Perhaps that is also the way it was back in John Wesley's day. Once, while ministering in Bristol, England, after the morning service the pastor of the church told me he felt like he wanted to show me something. We got into his car and drove out to the edge of town. We stopped near a little hill where I noticed a beacon and a very small concrete slab up the hill from where we parked the car. He said, "Because your passion reminds me of John Wesley, I thought you might enjoy seeing where he preached when he was not allowed to preach in town anymore.

The people would come from everywhere in all kinds of weather to hear Wesley preach." My pastor friend also pointed out a river below and said, "Sometimes the people would even swim the river and sit in the rain because they were so hungry for the Word of God. The men, having worked all day, would often come directly from the coal mines with their faces still black with coal dust, and meet up with their families. They would sit on the ground for hours and listen to Wesley preach because they were so hungry for the Word of God."

I stood there on the little slab of concrete under the beacon, imagining what it must have looked like through the eyes of the Wesley brothers. I also said to the Lord, "Do it again, do it again and this time let me experience preaching to a people who are both hungry for knowing You and for knowing Your Word."

It has been a number of years since the day I was out on Wesley's hillside, but my life still remains under its influence.

Can one be hungry for a relationship with God and not necessarily be hungry to read the Word of God? You decide!

Father,

I hunger for that wonderful relationship with You. Only Your relationship can bring that inner peace to my heart in times of need, loneliness or trouble. I also have a deep desire to learn Your Word and store it in my heart in order to feed on Your promises each day. I thank You Lord that You alone know the hearts of men.

Amen

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