Paul's Ponderings

Spiritual Formation. Discipleship. Christian Living.

Cravings of the Soul

Soul CravingEveryone craves. We crave small things and we crave large things. Our cravings range from coffee to cars to careers. One thing all these cravings have in common is that they compel us to live in a certain way and to do certain things. Some of our cravings we are not consciously aware of, while others are the driving force behind our lives. Make no mistake about it: To live is to crave.

The most noticeable cravings that we have are physical cravings. These are the cravings that we have everyday. Sometimes we don’t even recognize the craving until we go without what we desire, then our craving becomes evident.

Our need for food is probably the most obvious craving we have. Several times a day our body will remind us that it is time for food. For many of us our bodies don’t just crave food, but they crave certain foods. We crave chocolate, fried chicken, apple pie, pizza, or ice cream.

Another physical craving that we have, and one we don’t think much about, is air. Our bodies crave air and we don’t know how much our bodies desire it until we go without it for a while. If you have ever tried to stay under water for as long as you could, you know the feeling your body has when you need air. The burning in your lungs tells you that your body is craving oxygen.

A third physical craving people have is sleep. Because of electricity many of us get less sleep than we should. We stay up into the night watching TV, surfing the World Wide Web, or even reading. Because of alarm clocks we can make sure we can get up early so we can go to work, to school, or to Walmart. We are a sleep deprived nation and rather than giving into the craving to sleep we try to medicate ourselves with caffeine: soda, coffee, and the increasingly popular energy drinks. When the yawns come and the eyelids droop we know that our bodies are craving sleep.

Our bodies were created to crave. Cravings don’t have to be about indulgences like chocolate or coffee, because also crave some of the basic necessities of life.

I think our soul cravings (the deepest longings of our hearts) are often about life the type of life God created us to live. We may try to meet these cravings through indulgences, but we can never satisfy them by being indulgent. The best we can hope to do is just numb the craving a little.

Take a moment and consider this question: What does my soul crave?

One of the most obvious soul cravings our society experiences is the craving of intimacy. We want to be known. This is why social networks on the internet are so popular: people long to be connected to other people.

Often we feel like we cannot be our true selves because we fear we might be judged. That is why we hide parts of our lives. Much of our personality is nothing more than masking wearing to prevent people from truly seeing who we are. We are hiding, and our hearts are crying out: Know me!

Erwin McManus in his book Soul Cravings wrote about Kurt Cobain:

In the opening page of Kurt Cobain’s journal, he writes, ‘Don’t read my diary when I’m gone. OK, I’m going to work now, when you wake up this morning, please read my diary. Look through my things and figure me out.’

“Kurt’s life tragically ended at the age of twenty-seven. Ironically, the name of his band was Nirvana, the Hindu name for paradise. The same artist who penned the song ‘Come as You Are’ in the end never found what he was looking for, never found the help to figure himself out.

“I think we’re all more like Cobain than we would care to admit. We’re struggling to figure ourselves out. We’re all afraid to expose our souls to those who might judge us, and at the same times, we desperately need help to guide us on the journey. (Cravings)

We long to be known and to be loved. I am sure we have all witnessed people engaged in destructive behavior so they can find a place to belong and satisfy this craving for intimacy.

Another craving that is common to people is the craving for significance. We want our lives to have meaning and purpose. No one wants their life to go to waste, rather they want their life to matter and to have a legacy.

To see evidence of this craving in our culture all we have to do is look at the success of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. The year that The Purpose Driven Life came out it was the second best selling book of the year, behind Harry Potter. That is phenomenal success to have a non-fiction book sell at the rate of a fiction book. People are hungry to discover purpose and to live lives that matter.

We can see this craving for significance in the desire of the younger generation to become famous. They have bought into the lie that in order to do something significant they have to have their face on TV and magazine covers. They believe that significance comes from the world knowing their name.

A third soul craving that we have is the craving for meaning. Perhaps this craving can be best summed up in the question: Isn’t there more to life? Not only do we want to find our place in the world but we also want to figure the world out. You can achieve great success and still wonder: is this all there is?

The worldviews that we construct, from atheism to Christianity, all seek to make sense of the world that we live in. We want to know what is true. We are troubled by the reality of evil in the world as well as about the randomness of life. Whether it is a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or a public shooting spree, the death and destruction that happens leaves us shaken and bewildered. We have difficulty in making sense of it all.

We ask ourselves questions like: Isn’t there more to life than eating, drinking, sleeping, and work? Is it really true that all we can be certain in this life are taxes and death? What is the purpose of all of this? Our hearts are crying out for answers. We crave to know the truth.

The cravings of our soul tell us something important about life. If our soul cravings are going to be satisfied it means that there is more to life than what we can see and touch. C. S. Lewis wrote: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (Mere Christianity, p. 121). Our desires in life point us to our Creator. We were created for a life with God, and only in Him can we find the satisfaction that our souls truly need. (Tweet this)

The reason Jesus came was to reconcile us to God, and through that reconciliation we are able to find satisfaction for our soul’s desires. This doesn’t mean that all our soul cravings will be instantly satisfied, but it does give us the promise of contentment as we wait for that day when all our cravings will be fulfilled.

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  1. Dear Paul:

    Your ponderings confirm to me again that Psalm 42 must be among the greatest: Like as the hart desireth after the waterbrooks, so longeth my soul after You, O God.” I use the traditional language as that’s what’s used in anthems; I’ve sung three settings, incl. two brand-new ones by Nico Muhly and David Hurd, but the best-known remains that of Herbert Howells.

    I’m part of the Shrine Mont CFO crowd and hope to meet you there sometime.

    Faithfully, David Peyton

  2. Thanks David for the comment. I hope to go to Shrine Mont one day. It is one of Jenny’s favorite camps. She has nothing but good things to say about it.

    You are right. The Bible uses the imagery of thirst and hunger to describe our craving for a relationship with God. One of the reasons Psalms continue to impact people is because the imagery it uses continues to resonate through the years.

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