“God is glorified in his people by the way we experience him, not merely by the way we think about him.”
“Christ is to be cherished, not just chosen. The alternative is to be cursed. Therefore, life is serious.”
“But our calling here is to fight for joy-ours and the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”
It is not enough to just say you love Him, it’s not enough to even try forcing yourself to “get into” worship or to make yourself read scripture. Our faith is not called to be void of emotion and desire, in fact quite the opposite. It is not enough to just say you love God without actually feeling it.
And for some, that is a scary realization. Our hearts so often do not desire God or His word. In fact, we are so broken and sinful that it is impossible for our human selves to conjure up this desire all on our own. We are easily distracted, easily swayed by emotions or cravings decided by this human nature. We experience a transformation of the heart, we SEE Christ with the eyes of the heart and taste of His beauty and glory. And then six months later we look back and think what happened? “I was astonished that although I now loved you…I did not persist in enjoyment of my God. Your beauty drew me to you, but soon I was dragged away from you by my own weight and in dismay I plunged again into the things of this world…as though I had sensed the fragrance of the fare but was not yet able to eat it” (Augustine). If you are like me, you have realized this about yourself and promptly stuck it on the back shelf to get to some other time. You saw that your heart was not aligning with what God called you to and because of the work it would require to get back to that wonderful point in your faith, you decided that you had other, more important things to worry about. Let me tell you my dear friends, do not do this.
My personal turning point came a little over a month ago. I was forcing myself to get up and read my bible because I felt like my life was falling apart and well, when I read scripture it makes me feel good. (Side note: this is terrible motivation for spending time in Gods word). And I randomly picked up the book of Matthew and came across two passages that stuck out to me. I ended up writing them down in my journal, saying:
“Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matt. 21:43).
“The wedding feast is ready but those invited were not worthy…For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:8;14).
What do these mean? I am just so scared. I feel like I just don’t get this at all. I want my eyes to be opened, I want to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. My sin creates such a barrier, but I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and thought that would fix it? Lord, I need you to recapture my heart. I’m so distant and I don’t want to be anymore. I am here Lord! I don’t know what else to do. Please have all of me! Transform my life. I don’t just want emotional responses, I want You.”
In that moment, I was so moved by what I read and thus responded in such desperation for more of Him. I realized something about myself that I could not change, but something that needed to change. I saw that my faith was producing no fruit; not even that of joy (which is arguably the point of it all). I was disgusted with myself, frustrated and saddened. In that moment I realized that it was not enough to just say I believed and loved, but that I actually had to act on it. These verses showed me that I was missing something. There was a disconnect between my current state and that which I am called to be living in through the sacrifice of Christ. There was something about Jesus that I was not comprehending because I was not desiring Him more than life itself.
If you have read this far, you are probably finding similarities between my struggle and your own. That’s simply because we are both human, my friend. But let me ease your mind with this (at least, it brought peace to my troubled heart when I first read it):
“In this age that is frustrating. We kick ourselves that our cravings for lesser things compete with God as the satisfaction of our souls. Rightly so. This is a godly grief. We do well to be convicted and penitent. We know that we have tasted pleasures at his right hand, and that our desires for them are pitifully small compared to their truth worth. It is helpful at this point to be reminded that our desires- no matter how small-have been awakened by the spiritual taste we once had of the presence of God. They are evidence that we have tasted. It is also helpful at this point to be reminded that our desires are only a tiny part of what is to come. The strength of our desire is not the measure of the strength of the final pleasure. That truth can rescue us from despair and keep us fighting in this fallen world for all the joy possible in God” (Piper).
The fact that you are feeling frustrated that you do not desire God is proof that you have truly “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). That brought great comfort to me. However, we must remember what Paul writes in 1 Timothy chapter 6:
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (6:11-12).
We FIGHT the good fight of the faith. This life we have decided through Christ to live is one of battle, against ourselves, the enemy, the world. “The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself…You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’- instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way, and then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and…what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 1984). Fight for Him. For more of Him everyday. Everything in this world and in this life is trying to pull you as far away from Him as possible, and it is up to us to fight for joy, to fight for Christ, to fight for the desire of our heart. For we have a God who fights with us and for us for these exact goals. He wants us to desire Him above all else because He wants what is best for us. And that is what He is.
So lets not put off until tomorrow what can be done today, right now. Cry out to God through the desperation of your heart that you want to want Him. Get right with God, repent and ask for the forgiveness. Ask for the Holy Spirit to move in your heart so that you will not just do as in routine, but that you will earnestly, genuinely, desperately desire God above all else. A great way to start is setting up appointments in the Word; for the Bible is God’s number one way of clearly communicating with us. I sincerely hope you will not let this moment pass you by. God is calling out to you, He is pursuing you and wanting you to want Him. Do not ignore His voice any longer friends. For through his Word you will find the life you need.