First day back from MTI and I've already slept in, skipped doing any physical activity (pushups and situps every night for the last two weeks), gone to an all-you-can-eat Mongolian barbecue with some missionaries, and listened to a reggae version of Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side of the Moon." That's a pretty full day, especially after the sleeping in part.
In the last post I told you that I would write a bit about what God has been teaching me lately. Here it goes. In the past, my knowledge and experience of God has been through books, which, don't get me wrong, is a good thing. I soaked myself in Systematic Theologies and Reformers and Puritans. Calvin and Edwards fed me through commentaries, institutes, and sermons. I learned a lot and got a great foundation for my faith. Then I read this a few years ago and it threw me into unrest. It's a Jonathan Edwards sermon from Hebrews 11 on living life as a pilgrim. You should read it. Seriously. Reading that sermon brought me to a place where I knew learning about God wasn't enough to please Him. It showed me that God desires that I know Him intimately and experience His great mercy and power as I walk in this world. I need to enjoy God. I needto live a life that is drastically different from the mediocre one I am living.
Here is an excerpt from it that I love:
"God is the highest good of the reasonable creature, and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. — To go to heaven fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows. But the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. — Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey towards heaven, as it becomes us to make the seeking of our highest end and proper good, the whole work of our lives, to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for, or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end, and true happiness?"
So, here I am at the Grounds coffee shop in Laramie, convicted of the same truth that my life has been lived selfishly, and that should I die tonight, in many respects I feel my life was wasted on pursuing earthly joys and comforts. But the answer isn't asceticism and denying myself anything pleasurable (like...Cold Stone!!). That's the easy way out. The answer is the long, painful, purifying process of sanctification--seeing my sinful attitudes and then repenting of them. This means I can't justify when I think my best friend is an idiot and begin hating him in my heart. It means I can't be anxious about not being married when all my closest friends are. It means I have to trust God for everything and know that he only does what is best for me, even when it is painful.
Now, I still love learning about God from books, but what I really long for is to know Him through trusting Him for my every desire and need--to hunger and thirst for him like the Psalmist in Psalm 63. "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. BECAUSE YOUR STEADFAST LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIFE, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My SOUL will BE SATISFIED as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with JOYFUL LIPS, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."--Psalm 63:1-8