I revisited the archives this past week and found this article I posted in October 2012. The stark contrast between then and now fills my heart with joy when I see how God responded to my cry for more of Him in my life over the past 19 months. If you’re in a place of quiet desperation, wondering if you’ll ever experience more of God than you do right now, read on. Jesus is waiting to satisfy your thirst, dear friend.
The Song That Brings Me Home
I pull the guitar out of its case and carefully strum the song, quietly at first, picking up decibels as I pick up courage.
I sing my heart out, not because I believe it but because I’m preaching to myself, telling my soul the Truth when it’s been deadened to life. The music fills the air, soon joined by the wails of my 3-week-old daughter. I’ve woken her from her afternoon nap.
Lord, I want to hear Your voice;
Speak to me in a whisper.
Lord, I want to see Your face.
That’s all I really want.
Why don’t You hear me?
Why don’t You answer me?
Maybe You’re too far away–I’ve pushed You from me so many times.
The wall standing between us was erected by my own pride
Come back, come back, come back into my life!
I rock my little girl to sleep, humming the song as tears sting my eyes.
It shouldn’t be this way, I think. I should be filled with joy and life and songs of praise.
Tired of the trite answers and empty routines, my soul cries out for something more. I want to LIVE! I whisper heavenward, the tears streaming down my face. Please tell me there’s something more to the Christian life than this soul-deadening numbness, this Christian mundane.
An Invitation to the Thirsty
I pick up my Bible and thumb to the familiar passage:
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Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
My heart resonates with the invitation, and I take it gladly.
I’ve known that the calling is to a Person, not a lifestyle, but over the course of many weeks and months of living in this counterfeit world, I’ve lost sight of Jesus. Life had become a series of things to do instead of a walk with my Beloved. And that kind of life has joy-quenching consequences.
Exchanging Death for Life
Gingerly stepping into His presence, I allow His light to fill me, His song to pulse through me. I soak in His goodness, mercy, and love as He invites me to forsake my unfruitful ways and return to Him (Isaiah 55:7). I repent of my wayward ways and celebrate His promise of a great harvest for the Word sown in my heart (v. 10-11).
And then this–this glorious thought:
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.
Joy. Peace. Songs. Clapping. Dancing.
My deadened soul awakens to this promise of life. Why have I allowed this cloud of sadness to envelop me when here the King of Life promises a life abundant:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The thief has done enough damage already. No more. I come to the Fountain of Life, parched for a drink that will satisfy forever:
Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Eternal life. What a glorious thought!
Stuffed with the Pleasures of This World
Jesus laid down His life willingly so that I may have life eternally and abundantly. And instead I busy myself with my to-do list, hoping to make up in zeal (and P31 characteristics) what I’m lacking in passion. I ignore His gentle call because I’d rather curl up with a book or watch some mind-numbing show so I don’t have to think about ALL THE HARD STUFF. I run away from His invitation because I can’t grasp the magnitude of what Jesus calls me to in a grace-filled relationship with Him.
As C. S. Lewis so aptly put:
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
And John Piper continues this idea:
If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.
John Piper, A Hunger For God
It’s the irony of the kingdom of God: those who thirst for Him will receive more of Him, and those who don’t care much won’t realize what they’re losing. If we are to experience a deeper relationship with Jesus, we must feast on Him until our hunger grows stronger and stronger until nothing else satisfies.
Jesus’ call rings out to the crowds two millennia ago and to our hearts today:
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
God is not a God of the dead, but the God of the living (Luke 20:38). The living. He calls me and all those who are tired of the same old rat race to come to Him for something radically different, fulfilling, life-altering. Jesus died so that I might live. And not just today, but live a life of overflowing joy and abundant goodness forever. What a thought! “Christ in us, the hope of glory,” Paul exclaims in Colossians 1:27. Glory! Hallelujah!
As I hum and rock my baby to sleep, I wonder: Am I living that abundant life right now? If it cost Jesus His own precious life, ought I not treasure it and pursue it, guard it and celebrate it? Why yes, soul. Yes!
Living the Abundant Life
What does the abundant life Jesus promises us look like in the day-to-day? What does it mean to come to Jesus to satisfy my thirsty soul?
It starts with worship, with turning our hearts toward Him, acknowledging that He alone satisfies and everything else does not. And then it works out into the details of our lives as we bow everything to Him: hearts, relationships, calendars, bank accounts, dreams, future. It means an infilling of the Holy Spirit as He moves me about my day.
For me, abundant life today means
- being present in the moment and allowing the Holy Spirit to overflow into all the nooks and crevices of my life.
- putting down the smart phone when I nurse my daughter and wondering at her little hands, eyelashes, nose, and ears.
- soaking up the sun, admiring the blue sky, and looking–really looking–at the changing colors of the leaves.
- lighting the red Crisp Apple candle and letting its fragrance warm the house.
- writing my friend that note of encouragement–and actually putting it in the mail this time.
- practicing thanksgiving in the hard, the ugly, the discouraging; though the sorrow may last for the night His joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
- allowing that song of joy to escape my lips as I wash the dishes and sweep the floors.
This isn’t a list of things to do. No. That would kill the joy. This is the spontaneous overflowing of a joyful and grateful heart that was given new life! This is a life of worship.
What about you? Do you ever find yourself caught in the ho-hum of the mundane? How do you return to the Fountain of Life and embrace joy? What does life eternal and abundant look like in your day-to-day?
I’m making my way through Linda Dillows’ book Satisfy My Thirsty Soul, and I’m awed at how God meets me in the moments of worship inspired by this book. This 12-week study will guide you through your own soul wilderness into the lush meadows of an intimate relationship with Jesus as your soul awakens to worship. Seriously, if you’re caught in a soul-deadening routine that you can’t break out of, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. (I’m even thinking of doing an online book study on it. It’s been THAT instrumental to my own spiritual journey into relational intimacy with God–and I’m only on week 3!)