We file into her basement every Wednesday night — underground, the place where fire often burns brightest. A few less than a dozen of us span a decade and a half, sprinkled across all stages of life. We have one thing in common: desire for this God-Man. I’m excited to share with you today a friend, this gatherer of our little motley crew, who makes me want to know Him more. Dana Candler is an author who leads to many to the place of hunger. I suspect this window into her writing, into her heart, will leave you wanting Him more. Her books are listed below this post and might just be the kick-start your heart has been craving.
(For the month of May and a week into June, I will be pressing pause on my online writing and this space will become a series of testimonies of what He births in the midst of delay, perplexity and pain. Author friends from around the world, who love words on a page and Him even more, will share, here, how they have seen Him make the bitter, sweet.)
Time stood still, a deep inward groan somehow managing to drown out the sounds of my kids at play in the backyard and pull me from the dinner preparations sprawled before me, half-readied.
The ache that leaves me immobile at times.
He came in the hunger, a deep groan, though He had to remind me – because I forgot all over again – that this was His coming, that the longing is not a sign of His absence, but proof of His presence.
Hunger for more of Him, for a greater entrance and a breaking open into a deeper knowing of His heart arrived in waves and I found myself at my kitchen sink in a groan that bore the weight of its age – for this is no new inkling I’ve set my sights on. It’s a wanting heavy with history.
We’ve been here before. Yet each time is new in that the press of hunger always reaches beyond the present and the known and into the beyond and the not-yet-charted. I would have never guessed the exchange would happen so many countless times – my ache offered for more of Him, over and over and over. The endless trade. And though I do not always welcome its groan, I have grown to deeply love this blessed ache. When hunger lifts her head, a greater entrance into His heart is most assuredly ahead.
There at my kitchen sink, I found myself in an avid-asking that surged into unexplored willingness to receive whatever He might answer with. So long as He would answer with more of Himself. So long as He would come.
And that’s just the way He works when He wants to give us more of Himself – that precious gift. We do not naturally like hunger pangs, gnawing as they are. Yet they do for us a marvelous thing. They ready us for more of the most potent Man alive. They prepare us to say yes to the One that we love, even when His ways are so counter to our own. Desire for Him spreads wide the heart to receive Him as He is without resistance.
And for me, this time, I needed the preparations of hunger to ready me not just for a sweet new understanding of His heart but for a more bitter insight of Him. He gave me first the hunger. And though initially this struck with a sting, I remembered it was a gift and embraced it. Then He traded me. My hunger for more understanding of Him. An understanding I might have rejected had I not been so desperate for His coming. He spoke a poignant word, capable of offending even a sincere heart. Yet as His word came near me, hunger swiftly smoothed its path, and caused me to receive it deep, even in its poignancy.
The most potent Man alive (who is God Himself) waits to be wanted. Desire is the means He chose to push open the walled-up places and to ready us to embrace Him, no matter what aspect of His passionate heart He wants to give. Sometimes hunger prepares us for a more profound experience of His tenderness. Other times it’s a more disturbing part of His heart that He reveals. Bitter or sweet, longing comes first to ready the way. And after sending this forerunner, He comes in, like a settler staking His plot. He fills this new space with precision and strength, eager to possess every inch of our being, all for Himself and all for love.
This is the gift found in hunger and why we cannot push aside any aching for God, big or small. When hunger comes with a sting, we must remember it as the promise of MORE, and receive it as His gift not His rejection. Sharks infest the waters of the world of hunger. Offenses are easily born to the heart hanging raw and vulnerable in longing with seeming silence from the One for whom it longs. Yet when we embrace these pangs for Him as gifts of presence – not signs of absence – and recognize them as that which makes way for more of the One we love, He can do that which He so desires. He can fill us with Himself.
Blessed are the hungry. It’s the hungry – and only the hungry – that get Jesus.
DANA CANDLER, together with her husband Matt, has been a part of the leadership team at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City since 1999. As well as being a full-time mother to Matt and Dana’s four children, she is an instructor at the International House of Prayer University and has authored Deep unto Deep, Entirety, and Mourning for the Bridegroom (all available here). She also served as a contributing author of The Rewards of Fasting with Mike Bickle.