My prayer for today–also the words to a song:
‘Spirit, now living and dwelling within me, keep my eyes fixed ever on Jesus face.
Let not the things of this world ever sway me.
I’ll run ’til I finish the race…’
These words encapsulate a theme swirling through my head and heart. The questions at the forefront of my mind: How can I continue to grow so much in selfishness? How do I behold Christ and worship the Father with heart, soul, mind and strength through every thought, word, action, purchase, and decision when my culture and my adulterous heart subtly lull me to be enticed by worthless idols? I am so easily pacified by worthless things. Comfort becomes the end to which I strive–financial comfort, marital comfort, physical comfort, ministerial comfort. This morning as I prayed, I confessed that so many times I use God as a rabbit’s foot…”hey, could you do this just enough so I can feel good and be comfortable and then go away?” How I prostitute my heart to lesser glories–not lasting and certainly not knowing the greatest treasure of all–intimacy with Christ.
Yesterday we sang a song that I have sung seemingly a billion times. One phrase haunted me ‘all of you is more than enough for EVERY thirst and EVERY need–you SATISFY me with your love.’ There have been times in my life where I have been satisfied by nothing else but His love–nothing else. As I sang, I was convicted that I was relying on lesser things. I longed for the times of intensity where I had to rely totally on Him (I was also scared half to death longing for those times because they were circumstantially exhausting). Waning consumer satisfaction is what I am used to–eat this to feel good, attempt this goal to feel good, buy this for yourself or someone else to nurse the ache in your heart, change a room around to feel better about the void in your heart, look good on the outside to forget about the inside. (The list is practically endless.) The sick thing is that this is the easy out that people give. Have you ever heard: this has been a hard week, you deserve to relax…why don’t you…go out to eat, go buy something for yourself, go do something for yourself, have a few drinks, etc? When I am meeting with someone in a disciple-making relationship, the temptation is to dole out that advice because it is easy–especially when I want to be liked for my own comfort. However, that advice is so deadly–it is a lie, counterfeit joy. The greatest satisfaction comes from knowing God and going to the depths with him. The greatest satisfaction is to share our hearts in surrender getting past the surface of ourselves and knowing the absolute beauty of why we were created–to behold his glory. I know that sounds trite or less than interesting to the heart when we are thinking about us, but going there with him is a deep gutteral lasting satisfaction. He created us and everything in the world–does the creator not know what satisfies our hearts? This takes commitment and perseverance to continually lay down ourselves and trust in him.
As God was working in me yesterday and today to bring me to this conviction, yet again, I picked up a book that my friend, Laura, gave to me a couple of months ago. The book is called Five Who Changed the World by Daniel Akin. It is a collection of five sermons about the lives of five foreign missionaries. Tears came to my eyes and my heart was turned and awakened to greater treasures than the temporal things that tempt me. So many times we are presented with theories of what we should be and live and do in Christ, but these were fresh, true biographical stories of giving up the temporal for the eternal treasure of Christ. John Piper and others have also written biographies of the lives of those who lived fully in Christ. Oh, how much you and I need to be reminded of what it means to live lives of abandon to Him.
Now, secretly, I think every girl has this fear in her heart of being called to be single and serve as a missionary in China or some tribal land forgotten by God, but I was reminded of what was the heart of the issue in reading this book last night and this morning. Each of these people were no more righteous or sacrificial than you or I in nature. The theme of their lives seemed to be that they longed to know and treasure Christ more than anything. The more they saw God for who He is, the more they longed more for Him. The sacrifice that to you or I seems incomprehensible was not because it was about Him and not them. They were each aware of their sin and aware of his holiness. They also were aware of the state of the human soul apart from God. They loved people because they realized His love for them. Their main thrust or worship was of Him and not their husband or wife or family (and, yes, some had these). The loss and the lack of human comfort in their lives was a stark contrast to our American culturized Christianity. Whether serving in the 1800’s or 1900’s, these missionaries pointed out the counterfeit that each American was living when getting lulled to sleep in their comfort. The prayers of Jim Elliot to know Christ–wow.
In the land of plenty–yes, even in recession, do you know what I see? A wasteland of spiritual poverty where we prostitute ourselves to so much lesser, temporal desires than living in abandon to know the One who brings us ALL we ever need–a deep soul quenching satisfaction from knowing Him and making Him known. I am studying Hosea with Laura, and it is ripe with the imagery of adultery, prostitution and whoring, as the ESV states it, of the hearts of the people to false gods and idols. They were completely about themselves, and yet, God was faithful. He was warning of his discipline and he brought it. The fruition of their prostitution was brought to them–yet he was also faithful to bring Christ–the end in which all hope rests. Why are we playing the whore today when we have so much more than the people of Israel did–the fruition of Christ and his work on the cross? In this season of celebrating THE HOPE of Christ’s birth, may you and I examine our hearts and repent and cling to His glorious purpose–our glorious hope.