This weekend Mark purchased a new Bible to take on our trip....a smaller Bible in a version that I read...but he lacked a copy in that translation (NLT). It's funny. The one he chose was small, and a sort of pinkish-lavender color. The thought of Mark, all 6'4" of him, carrying this small, feminine looking book, brought a smile to my face. He kept asking if I wanted a new one instead, and he would take my small black one, but I told him to choose the edition that HE wanted. He chose this one.
This evening, I felt led (it REALLY WAS a spiritual leading) to read his Bible. My intention was to delve into the word, but I started at the beginning. After the initial important facts, was the attached essay....and it blew me away!
I hope that it moves you as much as it moves me. If it doesn't, perhaps it is because we've had a few weeks of GREAT sermons on love at church...and this seemed to fit right in. I'm so grateful when God puts in these little reminders all around me to stress what He is trying to teach me. He's so good at doing that.
Grace and peace...
"I WANT a lot of things.
I spend my days thinking about what I want and my hours trying to get what I want. That may sound completely self-involved, but think about your own days and hours. We want food and we go get it. We want coffee and there’s a Starbucks every 1.2 miles. We want sleep, we take a nap. We want to talk, we flip open our cell phones or hop on the computer. We want to express ourselves, so we laugh and cry and get angry and become sad.
What about NEED?
What exactly is the line between our need and our want?
Fortunately, there isn’t always a line. We need food, we need sleep, we need to talk and hang out, we need to express ourselves. We may not need those $60 jeans, but we do need clothes in some form. Still we are mostly a desire-driven generation, and many of our desires spring out of a desperateness to connect with something, anything – for the connection that will stop the ache.
This can lead us down some dangerous paths. Yet the question rears its head, how are we to view our desire-driven, thirsty selves?
Is it all just selfishness and greed locked in a perpetual and fruitless chase, or is it possible that we were made like this by a Creator who is also driven by desire? I’m inclined to believe the latter. I cannot fathom that all my needs and wants have everything to do with little ole me.
Surely my desire to connect with something greater is rooted and founded in God.
Despite all of the stuff I try to obtain to fill myself up, I really just want one thing: to Connect.
I need connection with people, and this is such an integral part of living, but underneath all other connections lies that for which we were made: to know God and be known by Him. That’s the longing that nothing else seems to satisfy.
I want to connect with something outside of myself; something that is bigger and better than any other human being.
We all do. I spend a great deal of energy making my life revolve around me, but I really don’t want the world to exist for me. Chasing myself around never satisfies and it is exhausting. In tracing the path of my pursuit through brambles and thorns, I find the roots of my desire:
At the beginning, in the middle, and at the end, there He is. I want connection; therefore, what I really want is God. All of my desires are shadows and types of my desire for Him. All the hunger pangs I experience that stubbornly refuse to be filled with the world serve to show me that God alone is all-satisfying. He wants to use all of my desire and thirsting to push me toward Him, to lead me to the One Who alone satisfies.
Here’s where the story gets a little crazy—God wants connection too.
Since the beginning of time and before, God has desired connection. He desired a creation and He created one. He desired a relationship with His creatures and so He forged one. He desired to be with us forever and so He sent Christ. The Psalms tell us He does as He pleases in the heavens and earth and in all deeps and it pleases Him to be connected with us. Because we are made in His image, we too are creatures of desire who long to connect. Connections of all sorts and shapes exist. We were ultimately made to connect with God Himself, the Holy One—the profane and the sacred become one in His economy.
I often wonder why a sovereign God wants a connection to such ones as you and me. The answer is so simple but so stupefying that it sends my mind spinning. HE LOVES US.
This reality is difficult for us to accept. Even as I type it out, I am shaking my head and thinking, You must be joking! That’s just preposterous. I am a flawed, finite being trying to embrace a perfect, infinite love. Thankfully, even though I struggle to believe it, that doesn’t change the truth: He loves me just as I am. It is the outrageous, unmatchable love of God that loves creatures such as me. I can’t even begin to comprehend the love He has toward us—but I’ve experienced it, and I’m changed forever. It’s perplexing. He loves because He loves. It pleases Him to love me. This is the foundation of connection—He loves us; therefore He stops at nothing, not the cross not death not even our own humanity, to connect with us forever.
The longing for connection is divinely natural.
It is the cry of the eternity in our hearts that Solomon speaks about in Ecclesiastes. So what’s my problem? Why do I run to everything and everyone and not to Him? Well the fact is, I am human and I am driven by (controlled by and obsessed with is more accurate) my five senses. I ignore the “Divine Whisper” because it’s just too mysterious, too unknown. So I try to be fulfilled with things I can see and hear and taste here and now.
Daily, my flesh proves to be my worst enemy! Despite my willing acknowledgement that my desires can and will only be met and fulfilled through intimacy and connectedness with Christ, sin has left a stain upon me that is hard to fight. The tale of running after other things to satiate us is as old as Adam and Eve. My desires take me on many paths—some seemingly harmless, some not-so-seemingly harmless. Some are benign and even good in and of themselves, but I often use them to fill up what only He can fill up and that leads me further and further from the divine connection I need.
If you dig deeper, past any undesirable behavior, you can see the longing—you can even hear it. Looking past my own efforts and strivings, I recognize the root. These behaviors aren’t really the problem; they are only a result and a ramification of the problem. The problem is the fount from which they spring: a famished heart. My desires are crying out for satisfaction and I convince myself that these other things will fill. We all do it. Shouldn’t we know better by now? You’d think so, but I never cease to become a completely forgetful imbecile at least a few times a day. While wrestling with a certain temptation or a besetting sin, taking a step back for some perspective reveals the same thing every time.
Why do I want to run to this thing, this idol? Because I’m hungry for connection. I’m desperate and starving. So what do I do? There is a feast fit for a princess spread on the table above me, and here I am licking up the dirt on the floor!
I’m hugging the toilet because I can’t imagine He wants to set me upon a throne of jewels! Call the dirt and the toilet what you will. I can glamorize it and make it pretty by adding a little pink bow, but it is still the same thing as it always was: a cheap substitute for immeasurable riches.
Each moment is a wrestling match between my flesh and spirit: to connect with stuff in the world or to connect with God.
Some times are easier than others, as we can all attest. But in the dark moments, I will let the howling of my heart show me the pieces of eternity that He has placed within me.
I will let it teach me that I was made for another world and for a connection that surpasses any earthly experience.
He has been pursuing me though my desires since before I was born. He has loved me forever and He is drawing me, with every bit of my humanity, with His unfailing love, to connection—to an intimate relationship with Him.
As I listen to the groaning of creation for its Creator, heard in every alley and every bar and every church and every home and every heart, I will hope. For every human cry, there is an answer. Hunger was not created for the sake of being hungry, but for the sake of the experience of being filled with what is good. I don’t know much, but I do know this: those who hunger and thirst will be satisfied. "
as written in the iConnect Bible, NLT, Tyndale House Publishers, 2005