The Man, The Myth
It has probably already been established throughout my blog posts that I am a literature nerd. I love reading. I love books. God is really cool because He uses this love to teach me new things about Himself.
Last semester, I took an Ernest Hemingway class and it was one of my favorite courses that I’ve ever taken. Hemingway lived a really exciting life, but he’s ultimately a very tragic figure. He was an ambulance driver in World War I. He lived for many years in Paris. He traveled to Africa and Cuba and various countries in Europe. He hunted big game. He watched bull fights. He liked to have a good time.
Yet, his writing suggests that none of this satisfied him. Throughout his work there is a reoccurring theme that to escape death or escape boredom, you need to keep moving. He spent most of his life moving, trying to find something to fill him up and satisfy him. He was married four times. He had three children. He was an acclaimed literary success and a celebrity. But in the last years of his life, he had a growing dependency on alcohol and eventually committed suicide.
I believe that Hemingway felt, deep inside of himself, that there was something else. Something he was missing out on. I think a lot of the time when telling others about the Lord, we tend to think of the conversation as a battle. We want to win them to the other side. In viewing evangelism as a battle, we turn the non-believer we’re talking to into the enemy. Obviously, this mindset is silly and flawed. I firmly believe that everyone on this earth has a longing, deep inside their hearts, to know Jesus.
Like Hemingway, people feel that there’s something more to life. They want to feel satisfied. They want to feel full. They want to be whole. They want to be restored back to God. Unfortunately, other things get in the way and block up their hearts. As proclaimers of the gospel, we have been included in God’s mission to unblock their hearts. Thus, we should not view evangelism as a battle. But rather, we should view it like we’re offering food at a fine dinner. These hearts are hungry for something that they don’t even know. Let’s feed that hunger.
A Moveable Feast
After World War I, Hemingway joined the rest of the Lost Generation and other American ex-patriots and lived in Paris for a number of years. He worked on his writing, visited French cafes and museums, and hung out with a lot of other really important people like F. Scott Fitzergald and Gertrude Stein and James Joyce and many more.
Of this time, Hemingway once said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” What Hemingway meant by that is that the experience of Paris filled you and sustained you and satisfied you, like a feast. But it wasn’t a one-time only event. Instead, this feast continued to sustain you. It stuck with you for the rest of your life. Because when you were feeling empty or hungry, you could think back to that experience, and be filled once more.
I think this is a beautiful idea. I know that I have experiences that I often think back to and find just as filling and satisfying as when I last visited them. I think that Jesus gives us these moments as a way of reminding us of His faithfulness. In the Old Testament, we see the Jewish people repeatedly going through a pattern of forgetfulness then remembering, forgetfulness then remembering. God reminds us of the faithfulness that He’s shown to us in a different time to encourage us in our present hardship. He reminds us of our previous feasts to give us strength in our current famine.
The Holy Spirit: The Ultimate Moveable Feast
And of course, we have the ultimate moveable feast with us: the Holy Spirit. It is not only through events or good moments in our life that God encourages and feeds us. He feeds us daily through the Holy Spirit because God “set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (1 Corinthians 1:22). The Holy Spirit goes with us always and feeds us always.
When we are feeling empty or unsatisfied, we must turn to the Holy Spirit for comfort. When we feel spiritually distant from the Lord, it is easy, I think, to try to respond to those feelings by fixing ourselves. As humans, we like to be able to take action and be in control. So when I feel spiritually far away from the Lord, often my first response is: I need to take action to solve this! I need to stop sinning or go to church more or read my Bible more or join another Missional Community or find another accountability partner.
These things are not bad in themselves, of course. They’re very good. But they must only come after we have made peace with God, through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to restore us back to Himself. So let’s stop fighting Him so hard for control. Instead, let’s sit and pray and let the Spirit do its work. For the Holy Spirit is a moveable feast.