I’ll admit it, when I first started reading “Hungry” (P&R Books, 2016) I thought “OK…another book on idolatry.” I was pleasantly surprised. Lauterbach, a pastor’s wife, Bible study leader, and self-made expert chef not only has a clear grasp on the Scriptures, but is unintimidated in the challenge to apply them, and suitably transparent in the ups and downs of her own spiritual journey. (Not to mention at times, quite funny.)
Lauterbach’s central idea behind the book is that as we have learned to feed ourselves with physical food, so should we learn to feed ourselves with our spiritual food – the Word of God. This comparison, which I’ll admit I first what I thought was somewhat gimmicky, turns out to be an extremely powerful teaching and application point. What certainly helps this cause is the author’s own expertise in cooking which only serves to deepen the analogy and make it more helpful.
All of our spiritual journeys start with a hunger, a hunger for a “perfect food that will delight and satisfy us without tempting us.” The gospel of Jesus offers us rebirth into a completely new person, which then our food should be Jesus himself (“I am the Bread of Life” John 6:35) and His Word, but yet we are tempted by cravings to gorge (or snack) on sin…especially during those times when we are in the wilderness. This is all a matter of the heart, as all idolatry is – as Lauterbach helpfully notes “we all instinctively feed on what we love.”
In the second part of the book, Lauterbach shows her strength as a Bible study teacher, discipler, and chef with powerful application of the foundational truths laid down in Part 1.
Just as a chef (or a parent feeding their children) would prepare, cook, and eat food to feed others – so we should observe, interpret, and apply God’s word to feed our souls. I wholeheartedly agree – God has provided His holy word to feed us and nourish us – why are we (myself included) sometimes so unintentional in how we come to the dinner table? The author provides extremely helpful and accessible “ingredients” to help in making studying the Bible a meal that nourishes, instead of an act of frustrated half-obedience that brings guilt, discouragement, leaving us unsatisfied. This is the real strength of the book. As a Pastor I’m obviously one to encourage people to regularly read and study their Bibles, but have often heard tales of the frustration and inability to understand it…which usually leads to a lack of proper eating and spiritual growth. Lauterbach’s instruction here is much needed and very timely.
Ultimately, of course, we don’t read our Bibles to just check the box, but rather we read them to experience and get to know God himself. The author rightly notes “When is our hunger satisfied? Not when we read our Bibles, but when we see Jesus there.” Amen!
I recommend this book to all believers seeking to gain practical help in not only knowing our hearts in light of the gospel, but subsequently studying God’s Word to keep us growing and maturing!