Our Greatest Desire?!
I read it again lately…a question, really “the” question that takes my measure spiritually. It is this one: “Do I really want God above all else?” If I am honest, I must confess that too often my answer is, “No!” There are other, lesser goals on my radar which I allow to take precedence. Please don’t misunderstand. I do not believe the Bible divides the lives of Christians into the secular realm and the spiritual realm. For God’s child, his whole life…whatever she does in word or deed…may be offered as spiritual service to God (Colossians 3:17). So here are two Christians going to their jobs. They both do factory work. One of them serves in the name of and giving glory to Christ, but the other doesn’t. The other has believed that spiritual service to Christ consists only of the things done in or around the church building or as part of a church program. But this is not correct. By the exercise of their faith, every Christian can offer their entire lives as worship and service to their Lord. David put it this way in Psalm 16:8, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” The godly influence of David is traceable to this fact: he lived regularly in the awareness of the presence of his God with him. There is mystery connected with the matter of God’s presence with us. After all, isn’t He omnipresent? Isn’t He everywhere? Of course this is the truth about His nature. However, when it comes to His relationship with humans, including His children of faith, He, in some real sense, withdraws from or draws near to us according to our wishes. The same David who was made unshakeable by the presence of his Lord before his face, was also, by shutting God out of his life, capable of the grossest sin (see the sad details in 2 Samuel 12). Of course God is still present, but we are not blessed in Him when we are shutting Him out of our lives, either actively or passively. Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). And Paul said that in Him (in Christ) everything God wants of and for us is possible (Philippians 4:13). Life lived with God is not merely academic or theoretical. It is very practical and touches all of our other relationships in very good ways. God reaches out to others through His people who are pleased to be living in relationship with Him. Paul’s great desire was to know Christ (Philippians 3:10). And the idea in the word “know” is that of intimate relationship. In every place Paul traveled, in everything he did to advance the kingdom, he was pursuing his goal of “knowing” Christ. No wonder he was so unshakeable!
Christian, don’t you believe, with me, that if we better cultivated awareness of our God in our lives…the idea that He is always before our faces…that we would make better progress against temptation and the sins that seem to so easily beset us? And don’t you believe, with me, that awareness of His presence with us would cause us to step out in faith to serve Him in better, more courageous ways? If we could actually see His hand in the many positive answers He brings to our prayers, wouldn’t our thanksgivings abound? And if we knew deep down that He is with us in our trials…in our sufferings…and even during our feelings of loneliness and forsakenness…wouldn’t we be helped all the more to bear up under these pressures for His sake? Listen, what we need, more than anything, more than ever, is the “constant sense of His abiding presence wherever we are to feel that He is near.” Whatever it is that we want more than Him is unworthy of us and unworthy of Him! May we sincerely sing with the Psalmist, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God (Psalm 42:1).”