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The Macaroni and Cheese Effect

At their core, your desires are not the problem. They’re a gift, pointing to a good, God-given desire. And this is true even if the desire you’re feeling is for something sinful.

Usually when I go on a dinner date with my wife, we make a simple meal for the kids before we go. Chicken nuggets, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, or fish sticks. They love it.

I’m a sucker for the macaroni and cheese: the box you buy at the grocery store for a buck, boil the little noodles, add the butter and milk, and then stir in that signature packet of mysterious cheese powder.

As I dollop the school-bus-yellow creaminess onto my kids’ plates, my hunger kicks into high gear, and I want some for myself.

And I admit I’ve sullied more than one dinner out by filling up on macaroni and cheese before even leaving home.

This may or may not have been sinful, but it describes what I mean when I say your desire is not really the problem.

My truest desire was actually for something good. I wanted to enjoy a delicious meal out with my wife. But I let another, lesser, desire cut in line and distract me from what I really wanted.

My spirit was willing, but my flesh grasped for a counterfeit of the real meal.

Macaroni and cheese aside, this same effect is at work in weightier struggles we face.

  • Joe loves Jesus and is a pillar of his church. He’s also been indulging in pornography, unaware that deep down he’s starving for intimacy.
  • Janet’s colleagues applaud her drive as she works 80-hour weeks, but underneath, she’s dying for a sense of self-worth beyond her performance.
  • Ed’s drinking again. He’s tried to stop, but his nerves haven’t been the same since he watched his son die. He’s thirsty for a peace he can’t seem to find.

Jesus knows the power of desire, and the pain of the soul’s hunger and thirst. It was your pain He shared as he cried out from the cross, “I am thirsty!” (John 19:28).

Have you been enjoying a macaroni-and-cheese version of satisfaction? If you keep filling your stomach, you may never discover what you’re really hungering for. And worse yet, you may never get it.

“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied” (Luke 6:21).

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.

Josh

9 thoughts on “The Macaroni and Cheese Effect”

  1. I use ministry relationships to meet my need for worth and community. The sure way to fully depend on the Lord would be to cut off everything I do and totaly focus on what he offers me. But then I would have to find another job and income. So for now I try not to allow or expect the ministry to fully satisfy me.

    1. Thanks for your honesty, Rick! I can relate. I’d love to hear more about what’s been helpful for you as you try not to allow or expect your work to fully satisfy you.

  2. Great thoughts, Josh! You are spot on. It makes all the difference in the world to examine and understand the desires driving our behavioral choices. As we do, we may then choose healthy and God-honoring ways to meet our God-given desires. I know this is a very important part of the counsel I provide men.

    Your blog also sounds like something C.S. Lewis would have written, only he didn’t have the luxury of enjoying mac and chees from a box with the mysterious cheesy powder.

    Would you mind if we shared your blog on the Day Seven website – giving you credit of course.

    Blessings!

    Dan

  3. Ok, I love the box stuff too, my friend, yet as an escapee from the south – I look forward to the REAL thing, nothing like a pan of hot bubbling buttery creamy ooze. Takes time, energy, cost a little more and sometimes it is quite an effort to syncrnize all of that to get…..hey…what a great lesson learned. Please pass the bibbs….

  4. Great post, Josh! So true!

    I’m finding that it’s hard to have this perspective on our needs and desires if we blur the boundary between brokenness and gay identity. For the New Gay Christian, I’m realizing that there is something many are finding of worth in their gay-ness, and I just can’t go there. I’ve been married now for 25 years and have been through the major crisis back 15 years ago when my secret SSA was brought to light, and it was only through my brokenness and realization that my desires were all bent, that I could find my fulfillment in Christ, at the foot of the Cross. The only worth my SSA brought to the table was to show me how utterly unable I was to save myself from myself, and how much I needed the work of Christ in my life.

    As I came up for air and re-entered the conversation last year, I was excited to find so many Christians posting online! But the more I read, it seemed like I didn’t need brokenness anymore, just a commitment to not have gay sex, or if I do, to have a lifetime partner. I’m generalizing of course, but that’s what it feels like. And for those of us who are married? Well, just make sure you keep your story as your story, and don’t generalize at all about anyone needing to let go of their homosexuality, because we are who we are.

    Honestly not wanting to pick a fight or anything, just so astonished at how the landscape of discussion of this issue within Christendom has changed in the last 15 years. I love all my Christians brothers and sisters with SSA. I just hope there can continue to be vigorous but civil discussion about such things…

    Thanks again for your poignant posts. Keep holding the light of Christ’s work up for us to see!

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts. I was a little confused by your comments so want to ask for clarification about your second paragraph where you write, “But the more I read, it seemed like I didn’t need brokenness anymore, just a commitment to not have gay sex, or if I do, to have a lifetime partner.”

      I’m having trouble reconciling this with the rest of your comments, unless you mean “the more I read, it seemed [others were saying] I didn’t need brokenness anymore…” Is this what you mean?

      I want to understand. Thanks again for engaging about this!

      In Christ,
      Josh

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