Have you ever been reading the Scripture and discovered that a particular verse is illuminated like a soloist on a darkened theater stage? Maybe you stumble on a detail you hadn’t noticed before or see a story from a whole new perspective. Your understanding of God and the Scripture are illuminated; a Bible teacher provides background context that sheds light on a familiar parable; a song paints a word picture of worship that you’ve never grasped before; an artist’s image stirs your heart for God; a group of children teach an unforgettable lesson about life. As a follower of Jesus, these moments of spiritual discovery are among my greatest delights.
Whenever I discover more about the divine—whether it’s a facet of God’s character or an insight into his ways—once again I feel the hunger in my heart to feast on God. These experiences expand my capacity to know God, be filled by God, and be poured out for God. They stir the hunger to know God more.
Sometimes these discoveries are subtle, yet they shift the way we see the world around us. One of my recent discoveries comes from the first chapter of Exodus. The king of Egypt recognizes that the Hebrew people are multiplying, and orders a genocide of all male Jewish newborns. Puah and Shiphrah, two Hebrew midwives, refuse to comply. When the king of Egypt discovers their disobedience, he interrogates them. The midwives explain that Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they’re vigorous, and give birth before a midwife arrives. When the women are dismissed from the king’s presence, they return home to continue their work, and the Hebrews continue to multiply.
As I’ve studied and reflected on this story, I’ve been impressed with the midwives’ strength and courage. I imagine the duo looking over their shoulders whenever a Hebrew woman gave birth, to see if anyone was coming to take the newborn away. With every birth, they risked their own lives to save innocent children. When they were summoned into the Egyptian court, they likely expected the worst. Yet in a divine moment, they were shown favor. These two women were quiet but effective advocates of the greatest social justice issue of their time. Pivotal in the history of God’s people, Puah and Shiphrah changed the future of the nation.
I had read the passage describing these valiant women dozens of times in my life, but recently God used it to open my eyes in a new way. This time, I began studying the meaning of the midwives’ names. Puah means “splendid”; Shiphrah is translated as “beauty” or “grace.” Their story reminds us that God wants to write a story of splendid beauty and grace in all our lives. Even when our roles are small, God does great things with the faithful. Because of the courage of Puah and Shiphrah, Moses survived and led the Hebrew people out of Egyptian bondage; one of Moses’ descendents is David, and descended from David is Jesus. Puah and Shiphrah played their parts in the story of God, even making possible the coming of Jesus into the world many centuries later. Their legacies increase my hunger to remain faithful, because I may have a small part to play in a much bigger story.
By diligently drilling down into God’s word, a familiar story came alive for me in a whole new way. These discoveries are like mini spiritual feasts. Sometimes they’re for sharing with others; occasionally they’re for savoring on my own.
How are you feasting on the divine?
What stirs up your spiritual hunger?
Margaret Feinberg (www.margaretfeinberg.com) is author of Hungry for God: Hearing God’s Voice in the Ordinary and Everyday (Zondervan, 2011) from which this piece is adapted. Go ahead and Like her on Facebook: Margaret Feinberg or follow her inspirational tweets on Twitter @mafeinberg.