I am the riffraff

“The riffraff among them had a strong craving for other food.”

Numbers 11:4

I decided to remove the social media apps from my phone for the Lenten season this year. Ask me how many times I’ve put them back on since Ash Wednesday?

More than that.

I ran across this verse in my daily reading the other day and it hit home. That craving for red dots, hearts and likes and comments is real.

“The riffraff among them had a strong craving for other food. The Israelites wept again and said, “Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!””

Numbers 11:4-6 CSB

Probably like most of you I use social media and I recognize the dangers of it. One of the dangers I see is the strong craving social media creates in me for validation.

We need each other. We’re social beings, even introverts like me. We need communication from other humans to help us be healthier humans. But humans alone cannot fill the insatiable appetite we have for meaning.

There’s this question I’m constantly carrying around, like a growling empty stomach: Is what I’m saying or doing making any good difference?

I want to know that what I say and do matters. That it’s helping someone. That is making life better. And as a Christian, I want to know that I’m honoring Christ and helping others know and love Him.

Those notifications on my phone from what I write in articles or poems or blogs or social media posts is a sort of food that satisfies that craving to make a difference. But it’s satisfaction is short lived and addictive.

Social media likes are white sugar to my craving.

But the word of God, the truth of Christ, the wisdom of the Holy Spirt is a full feast to my soul.

When I check those notifications and feel the spike of sweet followed by the growling craving and keep checking this glass rectangle in my pocket my riff-raffness shows.

But in seasons like this when my soul puts aside the sugar, acknowledging how addicted this riff-raff lady is, and sits with the strange growls in my soul before God, I inevitably find him fulfilling.

Just one look up. One pause to listen. To remember. To hunger. To breathe. To let tears run. To let laughter come too. To remember Jesus.

Here we fast. We crave. We hunger. We taste just a morsel and drink just a sip. For now.

One day this redeemed riff-raff will sit at the table and feast.

Is his promise enough?

grayscale photography of man and woman holding hands
Photo by Trung Nguyen on Pexels.com

One promise I look to in the Bible when I feel everything in my life is screaming, “There is no God!  You’re all alone in this,” is Romans 8:28-29.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

The first part of that section feels good. “God is going to work everything for my good,” I tell myself.  And then I ask, “What is my good?”  The answer is found in the next verse.

My good is to be conformed to the image of the Son of God.  The good God is promising to work in every good and bad circumstance in my life is making me more and more like Jesus. The question is, do I value this good God is promising to work for me above everything in my life?

Because everything is up for grabs.

Jesus didn’t make any bones about what it meant to be his disciple. He didn’t say we had to earn being his disciple, but he said, if we follow him, we’ll let go of our grip on everything in our lives.

There’s this underlying thing about being a Christian. This constant undercurrent of a question threatening to grab me by my ankles and pull me under. And the question is, “Why are you doing this? Why church? Why care about telling others about Jesus? Why keep striving in a hard marriage? Why read the Bible? Why sing?”  And if the answer isn’t , “Because being made like Jesus is more valuable to me than anything else,” then I’ll sink.

In all the hard things that come with life, I will not endure in following Jesus if I haven’t tasted his goodness and value being being made like him more than anything.

Jesus prays for us, that our faith won’t fail. And like Peter, the question Jesus is asking us, every new-mercied morning is, “Do you love me?” And by his grace, I do. I have tasted that there is no comfort, to escape of hard things, no self-preservation or functional savior better than finding within me the heart of Christ.