I’ve heard it said often that humanity’s first sin was a desire for knowledge. I see that line of reasoning. Adam and Eve were forbidden “to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17). And, after they did, everything changed.
But my eye catches another part of that phrase. You may not eat. What is implied here? Is a kind of innate hunger already assumed?
Fast forward. I’ve also heard it said that the question most often on the lips of Jesus is this: What do you want? Jesus asks, what do you crave?…what do you hunger and thirst for?…what do you desire?
Adam’s first problem was that he looked to satisfy that deep desire immediately. The desire wasn’t the problem. The way in which he attempted to satisfy it was. But simply acknowledging the hunger, apart from resolution, seems counter-intuitive. I almost want to dismiss C.S. Lewis when he says, “It was when I was happiest that I longed most…The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all the beauty came from.”
And yet, Lewis gets Jesus better than we do. In fact, Lent reminds us of this all over again. As Lewis says elsewhere, “All joy…emphasizes our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.”
We give things up during Lent not to manipulate God, but to acknowledge a deeper hunger, a deeper want. Lent opens up our hearts, previously constricted by reckless craving, inviting us to long.
In God’s original Garden command, He was actually paving the way to joy. Do not eat, God says, in a way that speaks to a more primitive hunger for microwavable satisfaction. We beg to differ however, grabbing and devouring because we can’t accept the alternative.
Lent invites us to accept the alternative, to long, to trust, to hunger for something far more satisfying…
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