“The weight of this sad time we must obey,Shakespeare, King Lear 5.3.342-343
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”
Augustine says, “God thirsts to be thirsted after.” I find this thought interesting. Am I too concerned about my thirst for him without taking into account his longing for me? It’s only those who hunger and thirst for the Lord who understand the Lord’s deep desire for us. Am I as “rich toward God” as he is toward me? My spirituality is distorted if I am more interested in being blessed than being a blessing to God. My perception must move from “Bless my soul, O my Lord!” to “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” I am being called away from self-indulgence.
My passion for Jesus excites me. At the most inopportune moments, I am moved to worship him because he is worthy of all worship – all the time. When I think of him and all he’s done for me, my soul thirsts for him. He satisfies me. Peter said of him, “You are the Christ!” and Thomas after touching his wounds was moved to proclaim, “My Lord and my God!” Dare I say anything more? I can’t and won’t be any less enthusiastic than they were.
Holy Scripture reveals that David danced before the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6:14) and the apostles on Pentecost were so joyfully filled with the Holy Spirit that they appeared to be drunk (Acts 2:15). So, it must be with me. My life is only as good as my worship. Gladly, I will lift my hands in the presence of the Lord and lay hold of his Kingdom.
Jesus was sold out cheaply by Judas for 30 pieces of silver, but purchased dearly by Mary of Bethany who anointed him with a flask of very expensive ointment worth 300 denarii and a poor widow who, out of her poverty, put two small copper coins into the temple offering box. These women were rich toward God. (Luke 12:21) I must follow them.
I want to live the God-life, not the good life. A steady movement toward God requires me to meet the Lord in daily prayer. Each day provides me with an exciting encore like the stunning sunrise that is “new every morning.” To be regular in this way takes great effort and energy, but I pursue it as slow mountain climb with plenty of rest stops for meditation and rumination along the way. It is a relentless ascent over a lifetime.
My relationship with the Lord is always in motion – not static, and thus needs to be maintained with love, honest engagement, encouragement, accountability, and mutual respect. I can lose sight of God if I don’t seek him out to strengthen our bond. Without careful attention, these ties weaken in time. Words left unsaid are as bad as those misspoken. Regular contact is absolutely necessary to avoid fissures between us. It takes time to forge a solid friendship and even more time to sustain it.
My prayer time grounds me. What I do in secret produces the basis of what I do publicly. My Lord is more than an audience to my prayers; he is a partner. All I do each morning is speak honestly to him. At various times I am humble, angry, and confused, so I tell him. I complain and feel sorry for myself. I speak what I feel, not what I ought to say. In other words, I speak my mind because that defines our relationship.
The Lord listens to me but never indulges me. He won’t let me feel sorry for myself; he wants to restore and get me back on my feet. He reminds me of my commitment to him. He knows I tend to wear down, so he calls me back to the life I have in him. In the words of Andrew Murray, “The life of Christ must become mine.”
I now desire God for himself and not for what he does for me. This is surrender. I have discovered I exist for his good and not my own. It’s clear to me that “not my will, but yours, Lord” is my new reality. Jesus is no longer an appendage to my life; he is my life! I don’t want to get into heaven; I want heaven to get into me.
This will require serious engagement and a dedicated willingness to obey the Lord in the face of not feeling like it. The road to godliness will take time. Some days I will feel like I’m slogging to Mt. Zion, not striding, but that’s fine as long as I am moving forward. In the end I want to be “the coatless, two mile Christian” whose lamp is properly trimmed with plenty of oil to receive the bridegroom.
Top image: Man kneeling before the Cross with sunset background, stock image by ©rghenry at Bigstock.com
Tom Mangan is a coordinator in the People of God Community located in Coraopolis and Pitsburgh areas of Pennsylvania, USA. Tom and his wife and Patty have been actively involved in the charismatic renewal since the late 1960s. They joined the People of God community in 1978. They moved their family from the North Hills of Pittsburgh to Coraopolis to live move closely with other community families in a neighborhood cluster. They are the parents of four children: Joy, Jeremy, Colleen, and James.