Feed Your Soul, Not Your Craving

“but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:14

It’s almost 6:00 a.m. on the last day of 2022. All is quiet in my household and neighborhood. I’ve wrestled with disrupted sleep all week, so of course, I’ve been awake for over an hour. Strangely, I am craving a Coke. Not just any Coke, but the kind made with pure cane sugar. I have not had one in well over a year. Perhaps hearing the mention of this kind of Coke on a TV show I watched earlier this week is what triggered this craving. I don’t have any in my home, and the nearest store I could buy one is at least a 30 minute drive. I tell myself it’s too early to drive to the store, especially just for a Coke. But this craving isn’t going away. I start to think of what I could substitute instead-perhaps a McDonald’s fountain Coke. The nearest McDonald’s is only 15 minutes away. That’s not too far, and since they have drive thru, I could just throw a coat over my PJs, because no one would see what I was wearing anyway.

Alas, I tell myself, it’s too early to drive to McDonald’s also. But I still can’t shake this craving. I think I just need something carbonated and sweet. Then I remember my beverage fridge in the garage. Occasionally there is Diet Coke in there. It won’t have the same sweet taste as a Coke made with cane sugar, but it will be carbonated and taste somewhat like a Coke. It may be too early to drive anywhere, but it wasn’t too early to walk outside to my garage. To my disappointment, there was no Diet Coke in there. There was, however, a 24=pack of bottled spring water that I had just purchased from the store yesterday. I knew water wouldn’t come close to satisfying a sugary carbonation craving, but I resigned to accept that craving a Coke must mean I’m thirsty and water was my only option to quench my thirst. As I took my first drink I knew I was right-my body was indeed thirsty. At 6:04 a.m., the entire 17-ounce bottle of water is gone and my body is still wanting more.

Water didn’t satisfy my craving, but it did settle my thirst. My body needed hydration not sugar or carbonation. This is also true for the cravings in life. There are so many things our natural selves crave that do not feed our souls. Comfort for example, is a craving most desire to combat stress. Various foods and clothing are made for comfort. When we crave comfort, we eat mac and cheese and change into sweat pants. We curl up on our couches and watch our favorite television shows in an effort to get comfortable and rid ourselves from a stressful day. But what comfort isn’t what our souls need? What if the lack of comfort is merely a stirring in our spirit, triggering a soul need, but we feed the craving instead of the soul? When that happens, we tend to have to buy bigger sweat pants. Why, because no amount of comfort food or relaxation will satisfy what our souls need. We can stuff ourselves with indulgent foods that taste satisfying but leave us feeling sick and tired when our bodies start to digest it. The same is true for feeding any of life’s cravings that do not meet the needs of our soul. The woman Jesus encountered at the well, is a prime example.

The woman at the well had soul needs. Her soul needed love and wholeness. But her heart craved lust and a need to be desired. She chased her cravings and ended up in five failed relationships. Jesus knew that about her when he greeted her. He didn’t shame her. He doesn’t even mention these details about her when they first meet. When Jesus first encounters her, He asks for a drink of water. It’s not until the end of their conversation that Jesus brings up her relationship status. He mentions it after he tells her how to feed her soul. Through an exchange about water, Jesus tells her about a living water that when consumed eliminates one’s thirst. Then He tells her to go tell her husband, already knowing she is not married and the history of her five failed marriages. This was His way of showing her that what she was craving was not feeding her soul. No human relationship can feed our souls. Our souls were designed to be fed by Jesus only. He feeds our souls when we soak in His presence and consume His word. If we don’t recognize what our soul needs, we will inevitably be sidetracked with false cravings. Take inventory of what you’re chasing after. If it’s money, power, control or lust, you’re feeding cravings. If you’re chasing after Christ, you’re feeding your soul. Feed your soul, not your cravings.

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