Thursday, April 5, 2007

Desiring God

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
-David, Psalm 42:1-2

Honest Confession: I feel like I don't have as much of a desire for God as I used to. It's still there, but it seems . . . diminished. My spiritual director (Kalyn) and I were discussing this today. How does one increase one's desire for God? Raised as an Evangelical, even the way I think about this is problematic as it implies that I need to "do" something to "solve" a problem. Why is that I think of a relationship with God as a problem to be solved? Yikes.

Can we really will ourselves to desire God more? My director and I both agreed that as soon as you try to manufacture/create/will desire, it makes it inauthentic. On the flipside, if we are never seeking somehow to increase that desire, we could possibly drift in the opposite direction.

Kalyn suggested that instead of either (a). doing nothing, or (b). attempting to manufacture desire that maybe I need to instead be open to God and be open to desiring him. I guess this is kind of the middle place between doing nothing and doing something. Just the thought of it seems quite difficult to me. Um, like, how long do I have wait? Also, what does this being open look like? I assume it means have a heart and mind that is open to being filled with desire for God. And to live life in way where I am open and expectant for God to stir my soul. As principles these sound good. As a plan, it seems really, really hard.

I often think of this story I heard where an interviewer went around the U.S. and asked prominent Christian leaders what does Jesus meant to them. I'll never forget how Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, responded. When the interviewer asked Bright "What does Jesus mean to you?” Bright didn't say anything, he just broke down and cried.

That's the kind of desire and love for God that I want to have. Please, God, fan the flames of my desire for you. Amen.

May Light increase,


Evi said...

When I read your blog Mark, I read the words of a man who desires God. I believe that we have come to equate an 'emotional reaction' of sorts with 'desire'...almost as though we've been conditioned to believe that if we're not bursting at the seams with exubarance than desire must not be present.
Our personalities change over time as well, we sometimes can't avoid this. I have often longed for the 'ability' to cry...and laugh more often, to come across and maybe even feel more transparent myself and 'genuine' to others (people usually feel more loved when your emotions are on your sleeve). I was much more like this in my teenage and college years. It is just not part of my physiological to react so anymore though...I know this now and have come to be content in this. I don't care less...I don't love just presents itself differently through me now.
You desire Him...this is clear.
You know better than I ,obviously, if you think somethings in the way of a full cup though and so I uplift you in prayer at this time.

Dayna said...

wow! inspiring authenticity, mark... there are no more words than that, for they're still being processed in my heart. i should probably read your post again...

thanks for your honesty

Mark said...

Evi: Thanks for you comments. I think that maybe I didn't explain myself fully when it comes to the desire spot. I certainly agree that desire is not just an emotional expression. My spiritual director describes real desire and something that is deep within us and is occasionally manifested in emotional expression. Bill Bright for instance, though he was emotional when interviewed, wasn't always. But he was somebody who's beliefs, actions, heart, and emotions all lined up with the desire that was within him. I'm simply being honest with myself and realizing that my desire, my deep desire is lower then it used to be and this saddens me. I am not extremely distressed by it by I am desiring to desire more! I think as Evangelicals there is a lot of guilt associated with lower levels of desire for God (and especially how it is manifested) but I hope I have moved past that now. My personality is one that will never be super emotional (I am English after all) but I long to have the deeper desire increase. Not sure if I'm saying that right . . .
Dayna: Thanks Dayna. I've been thinking about the whole idea of being authentic a lot lately. I think it's kind of a dangerous thing though, especially for leaders. It may also be crucial for them and those they lead in the long run. What should the rules for authenticity be for leaders do you think?

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, to be authentic. That's one that I have trouble with. I'm afraid of rejection. Being authentic to God means opening myself to disapproval of peers. I read stories like "The Heavenly Man", about people in China who are tortured and killed for being authentic and feel grateful for the privilege of dying in the service of God. I think, why can't I have that kind of joy in the face of adversity? Why do I feel such overwhelming fear when someone asks about my beliefs? Why is it that I find it so easy to momentarily turn my back on God so people don't suspect that I'm a Christian? If I truly believe that people who have not made that commitment to God will be spending eternity in hell, why aren't I doing more to save them? We live in a free country where we are allowed to speak freely about God, and yet, I feel like being a Christian in the truest sense of the word (acting and speaking on the things I believe) could cost me friendships, employment, reputation. I've had to take a long hard look at what my priorities are when it comes to God. It didn't look pretty. I want so much to be the child God wants me to be. I have gotten a little better at being authentic (especially at work) but it's a constant fight with the part of me that wants to hide and "blend in" with the people around me. I want to see people saved, but I have trouble making myself speak to people about God. If we are truly authentic, shouldn't we be shouting from the rooftops in an attempt to make God's gift be known? Is "just being" a Christian and allowing others to see the way you act really enough? But I digress, and this is fast becoming a novel. The long and short of this is that I'm really happy you are asking these questions and that we can discuss them. Desire and authenticity. Those are my greatest wants.

Take care Mark

Adam & Melissa said...

Hi Mark. This is Adam & Melissa (Barkman) Lever. We figured you may be interested in knowing we have a blog, and will be reading yours every once in awhile. Hope you had a great Easter. Take care.

The Levers
p.s. our blog is at