The Insatiable Need

I
To know. It is a need not fully satisfied
If met without the search of free-will’s choice.
To know: it is to feel one’s human ignorance 
And say, “How can I fill this need
That, filled, frees me?”
To eat. It is a need not rightly satisfied
If met without the effort of one’s will—
Of appetite. Man seeks to know, and choose: 
“What shall I feed this shell of mine
That groans until my hunger is appeased?”
To hear. A need man’s two ears seek 
To fill, by sound or voice, the empty space;
And whether that be light or dark in substance,
Each man picks.
And lust. It is a flame not fully satisfied
At all. It never ends. But burns and kills by turns,
With no relief, and wants to know what should be left 
Unknown.
And truth. What’s that? 
A burning lamp that leads… A single Word.
A rock where all needs fall and break—and cease.
It’s life. It’s peace. It’s soul tranquility…
And that which lust will counterfeit
And lie, and say, “Be freed—feed me!”

II
The man. He had a need of soul not satisfied
By beasts. Alone… he was alone with God
In Eden’s peace until God formed 
A wife from Adam’s rib, and filled the need 
His side had long ached for.
Man and his wife, alone—alone with God 
Whose voice they heard and walked with 
In the cool of the day.
The grape: a gorgeous fruit not firm denied
By Eve, who wished to know and hear the Snake—
And for him lusted. 
God’s warning voice was not enough for her 
When coils of lust caressed 
Her gluttonous pride, 
And looks of sparkling sin
Enticed her mind with charms to eat and be—
And thus she ate. 
Adam, too: he touched and gulped
The beauteous food that turned to bitter bile 
In his mouth, and made him hide in leaves of fading green
As opened eyes to nakedness and shame
Made dying souls
And man’s insatiable need.
Who lied?—and yet, are half-truths lies?—
Indeed—what half-truths, these! that made the lusting 
Seem somehow much-less lustful when “to know” 
Seemed like, “Forbidden fruit will be so sweet 
For ‘good’ is also in it!” 
And evil—what of it? (implied the Snake);
If gods, like God, they’d overcome the “bad”
And turn their ear and eye away—
Oh yes! for they would be as gods!

III
The mind. It was a land of passive thoughts unleashed
By hell, and there the seat of man’s great appetite,
And there, in truth, the battlefront of worlds.
Who knew? All food, once chose, will feed or kill 
The mind it knows. 
And half-truths never told 
Of doubt that bred the worms of fear,
And hate that felt the part of love,
And bane that tasted much like wine,
And birthed in man 
The living side of death.
Man’s god? His wormy belly now,
That gnawed his choice to fill that blood-sucked space
With lies, and made the truth most hard to eat
And most distasteful
Because it looked so hard.
All knowledge now was man’s to eat and drink
Of good and evil—nothing was restrained;
And on forbidden fruits the greedy man relied
And was the feast of demons 
Who feasted on his mind.
Alas! A double head! It seemed to eat itself—
But no man saw the pain that man was in
To whom all sweet was bitter,
All bitter sweet, 
While all his will 
Some beastly thing became without control 
Of natural faculties
By him whose skill was slain
In mere appearances 
Of light;
And though he wished to vomit up those thoughts 
(those ugly thoughts!)
Man never could, for they would vomit him—
His personality—
In foaming shame that oozed the guilt
All over him, infesting all that flesh 
With parasites, while mocking sick a gutless man
Who chewed himself to death,
And wept and sobbed and cried—"Oh! where is life 
Outside a caged man’s 
Lofty appetite?"

IV
The Christ. The need that each man had
Was Him. To earth a honied bread He came
As manna came to feed the wandering flock
And Shepherd each one back 
Into His arms. 
He was the bread for men who ate by choice
And drank the life that flowed from every word
He said...
His voice was clean, 
As though its sound could wash the stinking scum
Right off of man.
And then... Golgotha. Giant scull there looming,
And as a hill supporting 
Hell’s final meal of the flesh of man
In Christ, who let the curse of sin, 
And weights of guilt,
Be laid upon His back
For us;
And took the famine of humanity 
In his own frame, and made it shrivel up and die 
A willing death
Beneath the plunging tide—the one great flood of blood—
Of precious blood!—poured out for man 
By one Emmanuel
Who from the grave emerged
And purged man’s restless soul and anorexic brain
From wormy eggs that hatched the lust for death,
And in their place gave man the Light 
To drench himself withal.
Christ rose! Ascending high His spirit flew
To God, sweet-smelling as perfume that blessed the air
With peace;
And no more caged by mankind’s shell
Of weak mortality 
He reached his pierced hand toward man’s boils of shame,
And pity touched them all, 
Exchanging them for life,
And hope,
Atoning righteousness,
In every man who chose 
Co-death with Him. 
And man observed: “To know.” Was it to eat?
"To eat." To know?—as choice would govern
What his body ate? The food of knowledge, sound, and sight
At each man’s fingertips 
Like trees...
And which one would he chose? 
And listen to?
And eat?

V
Man said: “My heart and mind and will—these tools 
Are dead, and must be washed at once,
For they were used (when I was old) 
In eating filthy thoughts I used to do
And hate besides.
Does Christ the Lamb have blood enough
To cleanse my soiled mind? My stains of thought
And deed? The ear I lent to sin
To know it, and become a double man?
I crave to know the way—the way away from lust;
Away from minding flesh in all its appetites,
Its selfish motives, and its prideful gains—
Lord Jesus, see!
This poor man—me (once lost within himself)
Knew not how to resist 
The sin… 
But now he’s new
In reconciliation 
And perfect circumcision 
By Him whose holy crimson
Made my poor earthly wisdom 
A foolish thing indeed. 
Now give him strength, sweet Lamb of God!
The strength of faithful sight in will,
And power to subdue 
And be renewed
In You!
What law is this?” man asks, amazed. “What law 
Has saved me now from awful self?
The self myself could never run and hide?
The law of life—of love! Not that I loved, but He!
And gave me where my heart and mind were old
New ones, that bear His word of life 
Alive in me—in my own will!
My frame! My inner man!
No more a slave
To scalding chains of lust
But now, in truth, emancipated whole!
In Him I walk, I speak, I breathe—in Him:
No strength of mine will charge these feeble limbs again,
But His—His will! for there my own will rests 
With quiet joy... an offering...
Within the will of Him who lifted my death’s cup
And brought it to His lips 
In love for me.”


VI
The need: to know that each man's need is God.
To meet Him through the search of free-will’s choice.
To know our human ignorance is cured 
In Him, and that He’s killed the lust to know 
What ought to be unknown
And satisfied the ache 
With knowledge of Himself. 
In need, in end… it’s Him who can be known
And yet, in knowing, man knows no end of knowledge,
But eats with thanks, and runs the Spirit’s way
In truth—an onward tract of tasteful mystery
Of which no man can get enough to eat.
Each thought? Man’s choice.
Each bite? Man’s will.
Each action proving what his mind now knows.
The Snake, or Christ? 
There’s one insatiable need.
What death or life 
Will each man choose
Today?

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY & SUGGESTED READING:

All Scripture References in the KING JAMES VERSION [Public Domain]:

GENESIS 2, 3; LEVITICUS 1, 2; DEUTERONOMY 30;

ISAIAH 1; 5:20-24; JEREMIAH 31; EZEKIEL 18; PSALMS 51, 95;

MATTHEW 17:14-21; 27, 28; MARK 5:1-20; 15, 16; LUKE 23, 24;

JOHN 1:1-34; 3:1-21; 4:5-26; 6:25-71; 8:32; 10:1-18; 11:25-27; 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21;

ROMANS 5, 6, 7, 8; I CORINTHIANS 1:22-31; 15; II CORINTHIANS 3, 5; GALATIANS 2;

EPHESIANS 2; PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11; 3:19; COLOSSIANS 1:9-29; 2, 3; HEBREWS 3, 10, 12;

I PETER 1, 2:22-25; JAMES 1; I JOHN 4, 5; REVELATION 1, 5, 22;

“THE SPIRITUAL MAN” BY WATCHMAN NEE [Copyright 1968 Christian Fellowship Publishers, INC. New York]

12 thoughts on “The Insatiable Need

  1. A fine inscription, one surely’d concur
    thus to engage a mind, indeed the heart:
    In verses, six, those things which did occur,
    From which temptation, man did from God part

    thousands of years, in sin did wax and wane;
    And more, aft’ the first coming of our Lord.
    The Comforter, the saints, the Word; the bane
    To the wickedness that beguiles the horde.

    So while many the wide gate go in thereat,
    Fine as you still strive, in prose, flow the Platte.

    It’s good that you provided the scripture references: For those younger in the faith, “The Insatiable Need” might create many questions – you fit quite a bit into that, some theologically more advanced than I would have ever thought about before I began eating meat. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

    And until now I’ve never heard of Watchman Nee. It’d be interesting to know if he ever interacted with Jonathan Goforth. The Boxer Rebellion then the Sino-Japanese war quickly escalated to worse with WW2 and the hostile communist takeover: perhaps the most hostile anti-christian ideology so far. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn grimly recorded gross abuse in “The Gulag Archipelago” of the Soviet communist regime against “dissidents”, naturally this encompassed religious persecutions beneath the umbrella of “political dissidents” under the very vague “Article 58”. This evil is ultimately the lost cause, the strife that is fulfilling the “insatiable need” and you articulated it with a completeness I’d only struggle to.

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    • I was not familiar with some of the names you mention, but I see now that both Goforth and Solzhenitsyn are some should-be-known historical figures. I’m not sure if Watchman Nee knew Goforth, although Nee was influenced by teachers/writers such as Andrew Murray. It’s intriguing when authors use the language of ‘story’ to promote, express, criticize, or expose particular aspects and injustices of their society. The history of the Soviet communist regime, WWII, etc., is a massive subject – a subject we can’t help observing in light of what our 21st century world has survived since 2019… Thanks for your comment. That is nice verse, by the way.

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      • The past few years have been grieving, particularly the affront to liberty (especially noted in the deceit with which the truckers were treated). I recognize Andrew Murray’s name but am ignorant of his life. ‘Story’ or ‘allegory’ is an effective technique indeed for inciting intrigue: Jesus did this frequently.

        As to my verse: I must confess it was an attempt at sonnet form but you would have noticed (and considerately didn’t mention) I was obviously distracted to have omitted e-f-e-f before g-g. Here are the four lines:

        What e’er evil, cause or golems do men boost
        Assured, God presides, to his right sits Christ
        Who holds the book of life, no one shall roost
        Save by the Benevolent King’s judgement.

        Despite that catastrophic omission, thank you for the compliment: I trust the correction does not sway your conclusion.

        The Gulag Archipelago is very long if you are so inclined, otherwise the abridged version will suit most who would even read it anyway. Solzhenitsyn is thorough in his explanations and he witnessed/experienced many tragedies and wickedness during his capture (if that would trouble you). One reference he made in his book was to an old man Anatoly Vasilyevich Silin who wrote (if memory serves… no pun intended) poetry to his mind and could recall at will the extensive verse (much in theology) he “wrote”. Not much was known about him (he died in the gulags) except what Solzhenitsyn recorded: orphaned then raised in anti-theist orphanage but in a German prison camp came to Christ through limited leaflet material. Some of his theology was recorded as being a bit off, but strive he did and Solzhenitsyn shared what he remembered in his book. I could find nothing further about the man that wasn’t cited from Solzhenitsyn but he was remarkable in his composition and memory alone: the fact that the evil times seemed to keep him in captivity never swayed the faith he found in the German prison, dying in a soviet camp as a political prisoner. It’s sad how remarkable and inspiring men as he are forgotten for a festering sea of insignificance that beats and rots the hull.

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        • Interesting history, sounds like a remarkable read. I see Dr. Jordan B. Peterson lectures on Solzhenitsyn and “The Gulag Archipelago,” putting Solzhenitsyn as a literary giant in the same camp as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Shakespeare.
          I did not criticize the sonnet form because I am not yet skilled at composing sonnets. By the sounds of it, you seem to be the type of reader who will want to buy a copy of my historical novel, “Through These Dark Gates.” Set against the backdrop of the Irish Immigration movement of 19th century, the Magdalene Asylums in Ireland, and the American Civil War, the book explores themes of religious and political skepticism, slavery and free-will, orphans and family relationships, and what it means to fear God and know his will in a world troubled by bloodshed, betrayal, and self-deception. The book is in production now – scheduled to be released this summer – and will be available for purchase online and at fourseasonsnorth.com.

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          • Nice, (not that it’s difficult to hear of Dr. Peterson but deservedly, knowledge of him gets around) I enjoy listening to his lectures. His first book (only one I’ve read at this point) is well written and although he wrote it before his confession of faith he obviously placed great value on God at that point in his life. His education in psychology is evident in his writing and though he references the work of anti-theists in that field for where they could interject intelligence, he seems to exercise his usual caution which is especially appropriate in that context. Unsurprisingly the foundation whether acknowledged by most or not draws from biblical precepts. He also grew up a bit further north of where you are in northern Alberta.

            I’m not a poet by any stretch of the imagination. Actually I’m a tradesman and am happy being physically active in a trade that also obliges one’s mind to work. I’ve only written poetry sporadically since I was in school. My random writings have resulted in repeat inquiries for memoires (not that slightly besting the halfway point of the prescribed “three score and ten” is an extensive period from which to draw) and whatever other works my philosophizing might yield particularly as they relate to experiences most can relate, but the demands of life oft encroach on anything of great length. I realized another error in my prose: “Save by the Benevolent King’s judgement.” while in correct meter doesn’t rhyme and should read “Except by the Benevolent King’s tryst.” :”)

            Kudos on the smooth sales pitch! 😉 and yes that will interest me. Not all share my enthusiasm about the family name being Scottish (and Irish), my research leads through Ulster plants, to south-western Scotland. My great-great-great grandfather is such an immigrant – early 18th century and Presbyterian I’ve been told. Two of his brothers didn’t stay in Canada, ending up mid-west US and most likely affected by the Uncivil War. Several years ago I purchased a few copies of a book someone I know self-published. She wrote a fictional work for older children. Actually she sent me the .pdf as an after the fact proof read (a story there) and then bought a hard copy for myself and a couple for the children of my two friends. I hope your book sells well.

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            • Thank you, Edward. Yes – I find it a rather interesting coincidence that my Dad and Dr. Peterson, in their boyhoods, happened to share the same hometown in Fairview, AB. As the saying goes… “It’s a small world!”

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