Bruce Springsteen wrote the song “A Hungry Heart” for the rock band The Ramones to record, but his producer encouraged him to record it himself. Although Born to Run was a big album 5 years earlier, this was Springsteen’s first Top 10 hit. Springsteen’s songs are usually about wanting to get away, however in this song the main character realizes he has a desire for a stable family life and that he does not want to be alone.
Like a river that don’t know where it is flowing,
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going.
Everybody needs a place to rest,
everybody needs to have a home.
I don’t care what nobody says –
Ain’t nobody wants to be alone.
Everybody has a hungry heart, we all have “appetites.” Just like our physical body, these cravings need to be balanced. They need to be controlled. Appetites can be urges that derail us the same way a gallon of ice cream can derail a diet. Like our health, our relationships and careers can be ruined if we don’t manage our desires.
Full and balanced meals on a schedule fuels the body, fuels the mind, fuels the soul and spirit. It staves off a famished heart and regulates the appetite. My approach to family has been to make a consistent investment of quality and quantity of time. It is what makes a marriage strong and a healthy fatherhood.
“Snacking” to fill our hunger is also a poor idea. Quick bites here and there do not provide substance. I see snacking done in many elements of life; high school football players going hard on the first sprints or dog it until the final ones; sales reps at trade shows or executive meetings work the room like a pro, only to provide little follow through afterwards. I am guilty of snacking at times with my faith, only calling upon it when I need a quick bite to get through a tough spot.
“To pray only when in peril is to use safety belts only in heavy traffic.”- Corrie Ten Boom
In a prior job I was calling on customers in the middle of nowhere West Virginia. One client was always receptive to my visit but never moved ahead with any business with me or my company. After almost a year of no success, we suddenly received a ton of business. The buyer said that they wanted to make sure I had an appetite to serve them, not just win their business – no snacking allowed.
Ideal team players are hungry. They are always looking for more to do, more to learn. Hungry people almost never have to be pushed to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent. They feel a sense of personal responsibility for the overall success of the team, company, or organization. They keep and direct their hunger in a positive manner.
Teddy Roosevelt captured the essence of a competitor with a hungry heart with his famous quote, “The credit belongs with the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
At its basic level, hunger is a requirement we need to satisfy to move forward in our daily lives. Satisfying our hunger is richer when it is a shared experience of society. Think about family dinners at Mom’s or Grandma’s house. These moments are not merely times to eat, but to enjoy each other’s company. Fulfilling our hunger within the community of others represent times to live well with God. A God who made us to be hungry in such a way that we must appease our appetite to survive and we must do so repeatedly and regularly. An emptiness that is better satisfied in a congregation or gathering.
There is a good hunger which leads to God. However, it should not be our hunger that fulfills our call; rather, our calling that creates the hunger. Said another way, our faith should not be filling a void in our lives – although God is certainly capable of that – it should the wellspring of our lives. Paul addresses this in his first letter to the Thessalonians (5:16-18), “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
In John 6:35 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” We need to be confident this promise. Our hunger should drive us to attain a greater purpose than what our earthly life has to offer.
Every time we pray the Our Father, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. May this daily bread fuel our hearts and souls to impact the world today!