Saturday, December 8, 2018

Are you a little too desperate?

I often re-read passages of scripture, sometimes seeing a 'new truth'. It isn't really a 'new truth' because the truth was there all along - I just wasn't seeing it before! My circumstances change and the 'new truth' I need changes with them. I need encouragement one moment, and maybe I need conviction the next. How is it possible one passage could deliver one such truth at one time and a completely different one the next? I think it is both the condition and readiness of our heart that makes the difference. All of us has called out for help at a moment when things are getting a little too harried for us to endure. As soon as things 'settle down' a bit, we lose that intensity, don't we? To be transparent here, I would have to admit there is no other acknowledgement that God needs more than the simple admittance that we "need his help". I honestly believe that those very words set in motion countless things way beyond our comprehension - things meant to protect us, provide for us, and powerfully intervene in the turmoil of our life experiences. Desperation moves the heart of God.

Listen, God! Please, pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help. Every morning you'll hear me at it again. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend. (Psalm 5:1-3)

A bold cry from a desperate heart - Listen! Pay attention! Why? I need your help! Think about it - if you had two kids sitting side by side on the couch, each making a plea for your attention, which one would you be most inclined to turn to? One is sitting passively there, holding up a sign with crudely written words, "Will honor you for food for my body, housing for my shelter, and clothing for my body". The other is bouncing up and down, waving his arms, crying out, tears flowing down his face, crying out, "Please, please, I need you! No one and nothing else will do! I need YOU!" You may not know the need of the one, but do you really know the need of the other who defines it for you? Maybe not - because we all know we are guilty of saying one thing, but desperately needing something quite different!

It is true that in serving God, there is no room for complacency on our part. The characteristics of a complacent heart are simply to be so self-satisfied with the present situation that we don't see or acknowledge any need for change. We are completely unaware of the potential dangers that lurk just around the corner if we continue in that place of complacency. In our spiritual walk, we could say we are quite certain that nothing is as EXPECTED as change! I think David realized that change was inevitable - and perhaps that it was fast approaching the boiling point for him. He had patterned his life after the ways of God - he knew full-well that yesterday's "constants" would be today's "traps" if he allowed himself to "settle in" and just enjoy the ride. David admits his need - he even goes so far as to tell God that he could expect to hear about that need over and over again until that need was met by God. Not met in his own power or ability - but in the power and purpose of God himself.

Desperation is marked by a sense of urgency - there is an awareness of the circumstances of the heart, mind and soul that leads to an admission of the urgency of one's need. There might even be the ultimate effort to give it all - in surrender to the one who can take the little we surrender and make it significant in his hands. David says he did that every morning - offering his "all" to God on the altar, hoping for God's fire to descend and to consume his total offering. Nothing was as vivid to the Hebrew people as the sense of an offering totally consumed by the fire of God. Think about it - a life offered totally consumed by the fire of the Spirit of God! That was David's plea. I'd have to be the first to admit that we have lost the concept of 'offering' in the terms the Hebrew people understood - for we barely think of bringing an offering, giving an offering, or being the offering, do we? We put a little in the offering plate and call that an offering! We give an hour at the food bank and call that service. Do we realize the cost of an offering - of service as it was intended to be offered? Likely some do, but the vast majority of us do not.

Urgency compels us - it moves us forward (or gets us bouncing up and down on the couch, so to speak). It creates an internal motivation to "do something". The danger comes in us trying to "do something" in our own efforts - not seeking God's "something" to create the exact answer that we need. We see the need for "food", just like the first boy on the couch. God sees something quite different - the need for "spiritual sustenance" - just like the second boy on the couch. Yes, he meets our physical needs for shelter and food, but he desires to meet much more than those basic needs of our lives. He desires to meet the needs of our stripped-bare hearts, our hurting emotions, and our ripped apart relationships. He wants to repair damaged beliefs, tainted perceptions, and unrealistic fears. Those are the pleas he hears the quickest - that turn his ear, direct his attention, and fill his heart with compassion toward us. Nothing moves the heart of God quicker than the one who realizes that the need for change is present, not future. His response to that realization is to send consuming fire! Just sayin!