More

If you have ever seen “Oliver Twist” performed, you probably remember the heart-wrenching scene where Oliver holds out his gruel bowl and beseechingly says, “Please, sir, I want some more.”  Wanting more is a concept that we understand very well.  It is a part of our innate human psyche and an integral part of our North American society.  We want more money, more time, more property, more power, more fame, more friends, more clothes, more health, more, more, more.  Madison Avenue is quick to take advantage of our predisposition to more.  Advertisers produce ads that assure us that their product can fulfill our deepest needs and fill our empty spaces.  But all too quickly we discover the products leave us as empty as we began and we still want more.

Do you ever wonder if God gets a little tired of our ingratitude and greed?  Does He get frustrated that we don’t stop to consider that we really do have all we need in Him and that if we let Him, He will help us to be content with what we do have?  As familiar as we are with the concept of more, we are equally unfamiliar with the feeling of contentment.  I marvel whenever I read Paul’s words from Philippians 4:11 where he says, “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”  I marvel because I find that to be a most difficult statement to make and a daily struggle.  Every morning I do invite the Holy Spirit to empower me to accept with joy whatever God has planned for me that day so that I can be content.  I can usually make it through breakfast, before I find myself wanting more of something.

While striving to be content is a daily, on-going battle, it is one worth the fight because I have found that with contentment come the gifts of grace that truly do fill up the empty spots and satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and souls.  Gifts like joy, peace, hope, rest, assurance, comfort, strength, and most of all an awareness of God’s constant, loving presence.  Absolutely nothing on this earth can even begin to compare to the grace God is longing to lavish on us when we learn to be content.  All the other desires for “more” become pale, almost to the point of non-existence, in comparison to the glory of what God has to offer us.

While I daily work at being content, there is actually one thing that I will always want more of – one thing I can never get enough of.  That one thing is more of God.  I desperately want more of Him – more of His love, more awareness of His presence, more time spent with Him, more time to worship Him, more understanding of who He is and what He wants me to do and be.  I want more of God!!  And the fantastic thing is…..I don’t think He minds at all that I constantly keep coming and asking for more of Him.  In fact, I think He delights in it because He delights in me.   He sent His only Son to die for me so we could have an intimate relationship.  I have discovered that the more I have of Him in my life, the more I can give Him what He desires  – all my heart, all my soul,  all my mind, all my strength.

Whenever I come to God asking for more of Him, I like to think that He responds to me like I would respond to my two granddaughters whom I love with all my heart.  No words can explain the depth of love I have for those two girls or how much I love being in their presence.  If they were to come to me and say, “Gran, we want you to love us more,” there is no way I would ever turn them down or turn them away.  That request would fill me with such joy and I would pour out my love on them – no matter how many times they came asking.  What gives me hope is that God loves me and you far more than I love my granddaughters.  So I invite you to join me in running into our Abba’s presence and asking for more of Him.  Let Him embrace you, speak words of love over you, take delight in you, quiet you with His love, and rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

There are so many ways to experience more of God.  Sometimes we are speechless as we see His glory in nature.  You may be overwhelmed with His presence during times of quiet and solitude.  Or you may be filled with awe and wonder when He shows up in power and might by answering prayers in ways that bring great joy.  I have experienced all of those, but I have discovered that the most powerful way of experiencing more of God is when I am going through a deep trial or struggle.  It is precisely when I have absolutely nothing left, that I begin to discover how lavishly He loves me.  In my devotions this week I was reading from “Come Away My Beloved” by Frances J. Roberts and came upon these words that so eloquently express God’s thoughts toward us, “In grief, my comfort is more poignant.  In failure, my encouragement is most welcome.  In loneliness, the touch of my presence more tender.”  I pray that will be your experience.   Just when you need more of Him, He will present Himself in a way that will fill you with pure amazement, comfort, and hope.

If, like me, you long for more of Him, I invite you to join me as we approach our loving Abba and say, “Please, Sir, I want some more.”

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Longing

Here we are.  It is 2013 and a brand new year stretches before us as an adventure waiting to happen.  The possibilities that are before us are both exciting and a little scary all at the same time.  No one knows what’s going to happen personally, communally, nationally or globally.  As you prepare for this great adventure to unfold, what is your heart longing for?  I’ve been thinking about that question and my answers have ranged all the way from being able to fit into a size six jeans (you skinny people won’t be able to relate to that), to learning how to keep my mouth shut when appropriate (like that’s ever going to happen), to the deep desire to hear my husband’s laugh one more time.  How I long to be able to talk to him, and share life with him again.   I ask you again, what is the desire of your heart for this next year?  Is it something as simple as losing weight?  Maybe it’s a deeper personal longing to find a job, get clear direction for your life, have broken relationships restored, or to find someone who will love you unconditionally.  Or maybe you are longing for an end to this violence in our country and around the world or a solution to the economic crisis.  Perhaps you are fervently praying for peace, justice and righteousness to reign.  Maybe your longing is for something you’ve been dealing with for years – a parent’s love and acceptance, a child to be born, a marriage to be healed.  Some of our longings will be satisfied and some will not.  Are we willing to submit to God’s will and accept whatever He chooses to bring us in this new year?

That is an easy question to ask, but a difficult question to answer affirmatively and even more difficult to live out.  I don’t think it is wrong to long for something.  After all, we are human beings and it is part of our nature, but we have to be very careful that our longings don’t give rise to a lack of contentment or ingratitude for what we do have.  I have to admit that this is a difficult road to walk.  It takes commitment and a daily choice to trust God and submit to His will.  There have been times when I really didn’t “feel” like accepting God’s will – it led me to a place that was full of pain and sorrow, but I have learned that following God’s will isn’t a guarantee of perpetual happiness.  It certainly wasn’t that way for Jesus Christ.  Yet He made a choice – THE most difficult choice – to submit to His Father’s will.  Who am I that I should not make that same choice?  I need to bend my will to His even when it hurts – even when I don’t “feel like it. When we submit our longings, our lives to God’s will, we open ourselves up to encounter miracles.  I have discovered that submission (no matter how painful at the time) gives me an opportunity to experience an intimacy with my Abba that molds me into a clearer image of Him, gives me a deeper understanding of His love and grace, and fills my heart with joy and peace that are beyond description.  My faith and trust grow stronger.  I have strength to face whatever the future holds and an assurance that He will always be with me.  Honestly, it is not easy to submit my longings to Him, but I’ve learned there is no other way to live in victory and I have learned that the struggle to surrender is well worth the effort.

Having said all of that, there is one thing I continue to long for with ever increasing passion – even more than being with David again.  That is to see the face of Jesus.  I feel like the Greek men who approached Philip in John 12:21 and said, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”  I can hear the hunger in their voice and I share their deep yearning. The intensity of my desire to see Him with all barriers and veils removed is beyond my ability to express in words.  The words of 1 Corinthians 13:12 resonate in my spirit, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  That is what I am longing for!!  I want to see what David saw right before He died.  I want to look into those eyes and see the love that defines and sustains me.  I want to be held close to His chest and enfolded by His grace.  I LONG TO SEE JESUS!

Until that day I will rejoice in all the ways God has revealed Himself to us.  I will praise Him for allowing us to have an intimate relationship with Him on this earth.  This Christmas season I have been doing a lot of thinking about Jesus’ name “Emmanuel” – God with us.  Last night as I was reading from the devotional “Come Away My Beloved” by Frances J. Roberts, I was struck by these powerful words, “…desert all else to follow the call of the Spirit until…until all emptiness and loneliness of the subterranean recesses of his soul are flooded by the sublime, glorious reality of Emmanuel.  Emmanuel!  God with us – God in us – God in me!  God in you!”  All I could say was, “Amen and amen!”  Praise God that He is indeed with us so let’s be grateful for the Holy Spirit who enables us to know Him intimately.  It is in His presence that all other longing will fade until we are left with contentment and a longing to see His face.

My prayer for you, dear reader, is that God will not only give you the desires of your heart this year, but also that your deepest desire will be to see Him face to face.  I offer these verses from Psalm 37 to you as a blessing and a prayer, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”  Have a blessed 2013 and remember to submit your longings to Him so His contentment can reign in your life.