Maybe I should start by asking: What is it that you really want? What is it that you really desire? What does your heart earnestly yearn for? Do you even know?
This week's "thought" addresses that issue: What your heart truly yearns for. The answer I offer today comes to you from David Downing, co-director of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. It is taken from an Advent Devotional book called, "The Grand Miracle." Enjoy.
"I Am the Bread of Life."
"It is not what God can give us, but God that we want," said George MacDonald. He was a seasoned old soul, and what was true for him may have been more of an ideal for other pilgrims on the journey. The rest of us may feel more inclined to pray: "Father, forgive us, for we do not know what we want." We seek a gilded afterlife when we could have Eternal Life. We seek breadcrumbs of earthly pleasure when we could have a heavenly banquet. We avoid pain when we could embrace joy. We plead for words that will give us comfort and light, but our own darkness does not comprehend the Word.
Help us, Lord. We ask for a road-map to heaven when the Way, the Truth and the Life stands right before us. We want the crown without the cross, and we fix our gaze on the crown more than the King. We look to Glory, but others do not see the glory when they look at us. We do not ask too much in prayer, but too little. We follow the One who multiplied the loaves and do not see the Bread of Life. We want to quench the thirst of the moment, but do not ask for Living Water, the cup of heaven.
The Everlasting took human form so that we might lift our eyes from the gifts to the Giver. He emptied Himself so that from His fullness we might receive grace upon grace. The baby lay in a feeding trough so we might not be forever hungry. The child spoke in His Father's house, so we might put away childish things. The man told us that we must die to live, that sorrow would turn to joy, that those who seek will find. He rose that we might rise. He came to be with us for a time, so that we might be with Him forever. Lord, teach us to know what we want, to want what you want, and most of all, to want you. Amen."
So many today do not realize that their pursuit of joy, happiness, pleasure, contentment and peace in their souls' is really an inner craving after God. "God has placed eternity in our hearts," says Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 3:11. And that "eternity" which God has placed within us has left a hole in our soul that can only be filled, as Pascal put it, "by an infinite and immutable object, that is, by God Himself."
Yes, most people fail to see that their clamoring after all those things -- even sinful things -- is really a pursuit of God and what He alone can supply when He enters our being, by His Spirit, in the grace of regeneration. To quote Pascal at greater length, "There was once a true happiness in man, of which there now remains only an empty trace, which he vainly tries to fill with things from his environment. Yet all these efforts are inadequate, because the infinite abyss in the human soul can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is, by God Himself."
Maybe our prayer should be: Lord Jesus, forgive us for chasing after things that can never truly satisfy when you have told us time and again in your Word that we can find true and lasting satisfaction only in You; in having You. So often we clamor after everything but you, even venturing into the pursuit of sinful and forbidden things, before we finally come -- broken, empty and damaged -- to see the error of our ways. Convince us, we pray, that our inner hunger can only be satisfied as we feed on You the Bread of Heaven, and our inner thirst can only be quenched as we drink deeply of You the Living Water -- the only water a person can partake of and thirst no more. Lord, as Mr. Downing has correctly prayed, "teach us to know what we want, to want what you want, and most of all, to want you." Amen.
In this time of anticipation and waiting, Pastor Jeff