Very few of us have probably ever really been starving. The closest I got was during a 7 days fast about 6 years ago. I do remember though the sensation of being hungry left after just a few days. I believe from what I have seen from people here that you can be starving without hunger pains. You don’t even realize you are starving anymore. You stop crying for food or even wanting food anymore. This is where I’ve been at spiritually. I’ve been starving and didn’t even realize it until this past weekend.
Many of the missionaries in our community were blessed with the gift of a three-day retreat at a beautiful resort on the north side of the island this past week. Honestly in my mind I just wanted to get away from the responsibilities here and relax with my family. I wasn’t super excited about half of the time being spent with other missionaries in worship and bible study. I felt like we do enough of that already. I have my personal bible study in the mornings, my Saturday women’s bible study, Sunday morning church service, and Sunday night missionary bible study. What more do I need? I felt like I was pretty healthy spiritually but I was sorely mistaken. For the most part it’s all been pretty shallow. Just enough to get by and I would safely say most missionaries are in the same place. We do a lot of the filling but rarely get filled. And if we are really honest with ourselves is our “filling up” of other people really even effective if we ourselves are empty?
I started feeling hunger pains after our first session and they came in the form of conviction. Nothing wakes you up more than a good slap in the face. It was unexpected and unwanted but OH SO needed. I was thinking since the name of the retreat was CARE (Come and Receive Encouragement) that we would be getting the “don’t grow tired in doing good” or “blessed are the feet of those who share the good news” type messages. You know messages of encouragement. But NO! God gave us all what we needed…a large dose of humility.
The message was from Ephesians 4 and entitled Blind Spots. Blind spots are areas in our lives that others see in us that we are completely blinded to and that can affect our ministries negatively. We need to know how others see us, and more importantly how God sees us. It’s no fun to have your sin pointed out to you and I left that night feeling defeated as if I didn’t already feel defeated before going to the “retreat”. But for the first time in a long time, I went to bed hungry for more. I was over the shock and ready for God to continue opening my eyes to my blind spots.
We all struggle with pride and probably even more so those in leadership positions whether in ministry or business. I believe the reason for that is because people place us on these pedestals that we not only shouldn’t be placed on but that should not exist all together. We are constantly thanked and encouraged for this or that and even though we know it’s only God working through us, we start to believe we actually have something special that other people don’t. What a load of bull we start to believe. And if we begin to believe the things people say and accept the elevated position they put us in we become blinded to areas that God is trying to change in us. We somehow think we have arrived and the sanctification process is over.
This is why starvation without hunger pains is so dangerous. We don’t know we are there. We are being “feed” by people who are also starving without hunger pains. Or we are being “feed” by people who think we always need lifting up and encouragement. But really we all need honesty, conviction, and humility to continue becoming more Christ like so that others may see Him in us. I hope this challenges you to read Ephesians 4 and examine your blind spots and to speak more honestly and lovingly with those you have good relationships with. And please, take away the pedestals! We are all imperfect, sinners, and filthy rags before a Holy God. I am so thankful for the Faith church team that came to minister to us and give us the kind of CARE we truly needed. And surprisingly I did leave feeling encouraged and full!