You smile and accept the menu, your mind on catching up with the friends you’ve joined for dinner. The server hovers. “Can I get you started with an appetizer tonight?”
Since you’re with a group, you might settle on something to share and the server hurries off. He returns just as you’ve caught up on your friend’s latest news and begin to hear the rumbling of your stomach.
By the time you’ve polished off the appetizer and your meal arrives, your appetite has diminished. You groan as the server sets a huge feast before you. What possessed you to snack on hot, buttered bread in between bites of steamed mussels or spicy grilled shrimp? How will you ever do justice to your steak and baked potato or your Italian feast?
How did “appetizers” get their name, anyway? Mom was right that eating between meals spoiled your appetite!
If you’re still with me and you haven’t run to the fridge for a snack, you probably want to know what this has to do with our spiritual life, right?
Spiritual appetizers aren’t like restaurant appetizers.
During the early days of the pandemic, the days often dragged. Like everyone, I missed my daily routine. My house and my entire neighborhood were quiet. (Hard to believe if your entire family was suddenly at home together 24 hours a day looking for a tranquil corner, but I didn’t have that problem.) As she stared at the occasional preoccupied passer-by during our walks, I knew even Angie the dog missed people and fellow canines.
I started to create a new routine centered around time with the Lord and virtual connections centered on spiritual things. A podcast during our morning walk. Noon prayer with one or more churches. A weekly online Bible study. My own worship service on Sunday, followed by others that I might want to visit as well. This became the new normal and was a helpful way to stay connected with God and with fellow believers.
My appetite and need for spiritual sustenance were strong.
Slowly, days have become fuller and noisier. I’ve ventured out a bit. Now the virus wasn’t the only news on TV, and I “had” to stay informed. I tackled some big projects around the house. I had to rush to get up and over to the dog sitter’s so I’d arrive at an appointment on time. The “old normal” tried to reassert itself.
A vague sense of disquiet marred the tranquility I’d cultivated earlier.
I skipped the opportunity to turn on the Christian radio station and allow some music to shape my thoughts.
“I should probably settle down and pray or do my Bible study. I’d feel better,” I would tell myself.
Sometimes, an insidious voice would whisper, “That’s silly. You were really overdoing it before.”
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Psalm 27:8 NIV
Strangely, when I managed to silence the deceptive voice and sample the appetizer, I wanted more. Spiritual appetizers helped me crave more spiritual food, not less.
And that’s a good thing!
When the Spirit’s voice tries to interest you in an appetizer, say yes!