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« Out of Darkness…Into Light | Main | Worshipping God in the Spirit »

The Pursuit of God

sparrow.jpgMeeting with God is never easy. The author of Hebrews writes that “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb 11:6). Through the prophet Jeremiah, God says to Judah, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). We must reach out for God even as we sit down to be with him.

A. W. Tozer observed that “contemporary Christians have been caught in the spurious logic that those who have found him need no longer seek him.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The paradox of the Christian faith is that those who know him are those who seek him. Tozer writes, “Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they found Him, the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.”1

The psalms provide interior glimpses of those who knew and pursued God. David writes, “One thing I ask of the L ORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the L ORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the L ORD and to seek him in his temple” (Ps 27:4). In another psalm he says, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Ps 42:2). In Psalm 84 we read, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the L ORD ; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Ps 84:2). These psalms stir up our hearts to pursue God as well as record the psalmist’s pursuit of him.

The language of Christian spirituality is filled with words like desire, thirst, hunger, pining, seeking, restlessness and yearning. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) wrote, “We taste of Thee, O Thou Living Bread, and long to feast upon Thee still; We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead and Thirst our souls from Thee to fill.” Jonathan Edwards, the leader of the first Great Awakening in the American colonies in the eighteenth century, wrote, “Spiritual good is of a satisfying nature … . And the more a man experiences this … satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more.”2

During a quiet time we can experience that satisfying sweetness to which Edwards and St. Bernard refer. We create the time and space for God’s Spirit to break through. Occasionally something rises up—a yearning toward God. I never know exactly why it happens, but there is a sense of being drawn. Like embers that become a crackling fire when they are fanned, a yearning for God fills my heart and cries out, “Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6). I know cognitively and affectively that I belong to God. Affection and gratitude brim over in my heart. When that happens, I usually close my Bible, put away my prayer lists and just sit in worship.

  • We begin to seek for God because we need him.
  • We continue to seek God because he meets our needs.
  • We focus on seeking God because we find him fascinating.
  • We ultimately seek God because we love him.

It is always possible to know God better than we do. Paul prays for the Ephesian church that God “may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Eph 1:17). We need to press on. Having a quiet time is an essential way to do that.

My Analysis

Thirst cannot be manufactured from nothing. Thirst must be preceded by dehydration or deprivation. If a person is already hydrated, he has neither the interest nor the capacity to drink another drop.

If we, therefore, would experience a thirst for God, we must prepare ourselves by depriving ourselves of substitute water. What would those things be?

  • Television
  • Reading material
  • Entertainment
  • Material possessions
  • Excessive work
  • Busyness

Question: What do you do when you have discretionary time?

The Sparrows and Swallows

The sparrows and swallows find homes and nests in the house of the Lord. They probably created a nuisance of themselves with their nests and droppings. I imagine that the caretakers tried to scare them away. This signifies the appeal of the church to the needy of the world. Sometimes we become irritated at people who do not bring anything of value to the church. They seem like liabilities rather than assets. Yet, all of us are liabilities at some point in our lives. Should the church be like an apartment house that, if you can’t pay the rent, you lose your place?

31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:  32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Matthew 13:31-32

While they birds do not contribute anything in our eyes, God receives their chirping and congregating as praise to him.

The Pilgrimage

Psalm 84 seems to describe the journeys of pilgrims. Pilgrims are travelers on their way to worship at a holy place. We have no New Testament mandate to enshrine any geographical or physical place a holy. The application of this passage, then, has to do with our entire life’s walk with God. There are four important points in our pilgrimage.

  • Our strength is in God.
  • Our heart is set on our journey. “Highways are in their heart.” YLT
  • We must make wells in the valley.
  • We go from strength to strength.

A Day in Thy Courts

  • Better than a thousand. Probably means that the pilgrimage could take three years. It is still worth it.
  • Do the math. 1>1000. It is better to make any effort to be in church for even a short period of time.
  • Deut. 32:20. “One shall put a thousand to flight…”
  • Doorkeeper. To serve God is better that to reign with the world.

1 1 A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God(Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1987), p. 16.

2 2 Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1986), p. 305.

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