Thursday, February 19, 2009
A Thirsty Alert
Just now I am fairly furious that neither thirst nor hunger always do for me what God intended they should do. What drives me nuts is that I’ll either arrange for satisfaction by collecting beverages and foods I like and believe will benefit me, or I will deny that I am thirsty and hungry. I loathe that I will posture satisfaction and fullness when I am actually parched and famished.
For centuries God has been telling His people to come to Him whenever they long to be satisfied. He doesn’t tell us we should pretend we are satisfied or that we should make do with what little we have—“Be strong, Ralph! There’s a good thirsty and starving lad.” God invites us—no, He commands us—to Himself! Our coming to Him best glorifies Him when we do it out of thirst and hunger because we believe He is our ultimate satisfaction. He has planned that thirst and hunger and filth and sin and weakness and bondage and frustration should be things He provides for, not for us to work out and get over. He is our freedom, He is our satisfaction, He is our strength.
So it’s crazy that we put up with so much thirst and hunger, mislabeling it as suffering for Jesus or some such nonsense. He doesn’t want us to have any circumstances or to endure any suffering detached from Him—He wants us to come to Him and know Him as Satisfier of the Saints. Faith doesn’t say, “Be confident! Be self-assured!” Faith says, “Go and get confidence from Him!”
I want more and more to offer myself to God because I’m thirsty, because I’m hungry, because I need a bath, and because I’m a mess. I’m old enough to have figured out that nothing slakes my thirst, nothing satisfies my hunger, nothing cleans me up, and nothing straightens me out except Him. Anything and everything else covers over the very thing that calls me to Him—my need. There is no shame in that! It has always been this way.
Centuries ago, God said to His people:
"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. 2 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 your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” (Isaiah 55:1-3a)
It’s our soul (that part of us that perceives and expresses a response to circumstances) that is tortured and tormented by thirst and hunger. The storms that buffet our souls can only be stilled by Him, not by our fleshly navigational skills, no matter how expert. We’re not supposed to be able to fix ourselves or clean ourselves up apart from Him. People who cannot find God satisfying are the ones who bathe before visiting with Him, who posture strength in His presence and satisfaction already when drawing up a chair at the vast banquet of God. “No thanks; I’m on a diet. . .I’m really quite full, actually.”
Does this make sense?
I don’t want anything disguising my thirst, I don’t want anything covering over my hunger because those things are my easiest and most certain avenue to Him and to His Spirit. Fullness is His promise, thirst is the alert.
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-39a)
So when I talk to God I tell Him about how dissatisfied I am, how thirst and hunger are driving me nuts(!), how frustration and failure in this world are making me crazy. I know people will think I’m weak and foolish—“Didn’t he go to college to learn how to overcome all that?!”—but it’s likely that I’ll be knowing and delighting in God in a way they cannot. Is that boasting? Ha! Not a chance. I’m just paying attention to what seems to bother or threaten me most, and offering myself in that condition to God, my Satisfier.
Okay, then. Rant over.