If we fail to find all that we want of Christ, it is not because He is unavailable. It has been said that most of the things we really want, we get; that the true prayers of the innermost heart are always answered, but the key is to aware what your innermost heart is really saying. If you want to be married, there are ways. If you want to get into university, there are ways. If you want to make a million dollars, it’s not as impossible as you think. It’s all in the want to. There are incredibly gifted athletes who fail and untalented ones who make it to the highest level.
But God is attainable to every single member of the human race. Again, it’s a matter of the want to.
Consider Paul, who had three visions of Christ in his lifetime. In 2 Corinthians 12 he described how he was caught up into the third heaven and saw things that were beyond human vocabulary. Paul had a remarkable physical life and a remarkable spiritual life. How touching it is that in his final years, when he knew the end was coming, he wrote that he had only one desire, which he hadn’t yet fulfilled.
Philippians 3:1-14 “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Here was a man exalted by the early church, obviously admired by all his correspondents. And he was telling them that he had one goal and he hadn’t reached it. The older he got, the closer he got, and the more he wanted to lay hold of that for which he’s been laid hold of.
I long to be that kind of man when I stand on the outskirts of this short life. I long to be uncomfortable, not settled into an easy-chair faith in an easy-chair church, surrounded by people who reassure me that we’ve reached the bonus round of the kingdom of God, so we can just put up our feet and watch the world go by. No, I choose to be like Paul and lived thirsty — straining to take hold of the prize, knowing I’ll never quite get my fingertips on it in this life. The straining hurts, but it’s a good kind of hurt – a blessed kind of hurt.
The question is, Do you want to be comfortable or Christlike, relaxed or renewed?
If you want to be Christlike, ask yourself whether you are satisfied. The Puritans used to say, “He has the most need of righteousness who least wants it.” They were right about that. Are you smug, self-satisfied, and feeling pretty food about where you are spiritually? If that’s your feeling, then you aren’t hungry.
Do you have an appetite for the Word of God? Jeremiah the prophet said, “Thy words were found, and I ate them” (Jeremiah 15:16). The Word is our food, and a living, invigorated spirit hungers for more and more food. Sherwood Elliot Wirt, former editor of “Decision” magazine, explained:
“The problem with this whole hunger issue with Christians is that often we think spiritual hunger works the same way physical hunger works. When you are physically hungry, the longer you go without eating, the hungrier you get. When you finally do eat, fill yourself up, the hunger is satisfied. In the spiritual realm, it’s exactly the opposite of that. In the spiritual realm, the longer you go without eating, the more your appetite wanes. If you don’t eat, you can go for long periods of time and you aren’t even hungry.”
It works in reverse too. Physically, the more you eat, the more you’re full; eating satisfies your hunger. But spiritually, the more you’re filled with the Word, the more you want; spiritually appetite only intensifies. No one truly experiences God and says, “That’ll do me for a couple of weeks.” The more you have of Him, the more you want of Him.
Sometimes, of course, we hit the depths. It takes passion to restore passion, and our needle is on empty. We pick up the Bible. And it’s as dry as dust. The sermons don’t come to life. Prayer life is nonexistent. We feel like we have “lost God“ It is in these times that we should use the strategy I call “force-feeding” based on the principle that it’s better to act your way into feeling than to try feeling your way into acting.
So, sit down, open your Bible. Read. If drowsiness beckons, read aloud. Stay the course. Sooner or later — this comes with my guarantee — God is going to show up again, I assure you, you’ll know when it happens. It will be like rain after a long drought, feasting after days of starvation. It will feel as if the door has opened to your heart, and springtime sunshine is flooding in.
The next day, you’ll show up for Bible reading ten minutes early, and you’ll go overtime. And as passion for God steals back into your life, an amazing thing will happen. All the passions of your heart will begin to fall into place, to seek their proper levels. You’ll realize that it was more than spiritual dryness that was besetting your soul. When you lose Him, you lose everything., And it is only then He is once again rediscovered that you realize the proper place of every other passion and concern.
I hope you never lost God. But if you do, remember that He doesn’t withhold His blessing from those of us who wander along the road — as long as we are pointed towards heaven, passionately seeking, hungry, thirsty, and wide open for all that He wants for us to become and to do.