FENTON, MI – “Diets are for people who are thick and tired of it!” I read that line in one of those humorous greeting cards some years ago, and I have never forgotten it. It sort of sums up the whole reason for trying to cut back on the groceries and trim off a few pounds.
Since our married life began, Sabrina and I have been on some kind of a diet for each and every day of that span of time. Being in ministry is not conducive for healthy eating. There are way too many pot-luck dinners, socials, banquets, weddings, anniversaries and lunch meetings. In the midst of all of that “fellowshipping”, we have dieted. You name it! We have tried it! Fad diets. Sane diets. Insane diets. Grapefruit diets. Protein diets. No fat diets. No sugar diets. Hot dog diets. (Really! I liked this one since I am a connoisseur of quality dogs.)
The one characteristic of each and every one of those diets is that I get hungry. I mean the kind of hungry that tells your stomach that your throat has been cut. Not just hungry in general, but specifically and pointedly hungry. Anyone can eat enough grapefruit so that you won’t have an unquenchable desire for much of anything. You will just have an enormous urge to go to the bathroom. Yet a craving hunger goes beyond the general.
Some time ago, Sabrina and I decide to get serious about our weight and began a sensible and balanced diet. (Well, she is serious about it!) She works really hard at it and I periodically work hard at it. But the truth of the matter is that I still get hungry for certain things. Some days I just want a big ol’ juicy hot dog with all the trimmings. Nothing else will do. It’s got to be a “dog” and not some imitation soy substitute. That which you crave is the only thing that will satisfy a craving hunger. Nothing else will do. What is fascinating to me is that you don’t REALLY crave something until you cannot have it. At least I don’t. When something is taken away and is no longer available then the desire for that one object becomes unbearable.
I crave a great many things in my life. Not just food. I crave and long for places and periods in life that have brought me great joy or peace. I long for the sounds and seasons of days gone by and the feelings of comfort that come from carefree days of a less cluttered life. I hunger and crave for old friends and family. It has become apparent that I have a desperately gnawing father hunger. It is a hunger to be with and talk to my father who has been gone for many years now. It is a hunger to hear his voice and glean from him words of wisdom and advice. To sing along with one of his old country songs and smell the sweet aroma of Old Spice after his morning shower. I have a hunger to go fishing at Shores Creek, and gather wild plums in old well buckets and paper grocery sacks. It’s a hunger to eat pecans freshly exposed by a deft hand and very sharp, Old Timer pocket knife.
There is a hunger in my soul to play catch in the back yard with a new ball glove and a patient pitcher who never threw to hard. Nagging at my heart is a hunger to work on an old 1950 Chevy truck with a man that knew every bolt and nut of that antique machine personally. There is a hunger in me to hunt jackrabbits on a cold winter night, and hear my father tell of how good he is with a pistol and then watch him amaze me with the facts. When cravings such as these for my dad begin to pull at my soul until it aches, it is then that I am reminded as to how temporal and fragile our lives really are.
Many times we speak of the “tie that binds” not realizing how frayed this cord has become. Any and all of us are but just a threads breadth away from death. Just the slightest of a tug from heaven will cause it to snap and the separation is complete. The way I see things is that there are certain hungers and cravings that should not be denied while others should be battled with all our might. Foods filled with fat-grams, saturated with sugar, and chocked full of cholesterol should be denied. But father hungers and the like, should be joyfully surrendered to.
I have taken a long hard look at our physiques and have determined that fat is going to be with us forever, but our fathers will not. Give in to the cravings that really count while you can. Love and indulge your father cravings while he is still here. Not just on Father’s Day, but every day. I miss you, Dad.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.