I’m combining a couple weeks’ readings to get semi-caught-up since our Spring Break. So today we’ll look at pages 42-48.
“God deserves nothing less than for us to take it seriously and dive in all the way.”
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all. ~Isaac Watts
“We have enough stirred believers in the church who never take the journey beyond a stirring, and that is a spiritual waste.”
Do we see how the adversary, the Father of Lies, can make this into a tantalizing counterfeit? We may mistake “stirring” for real spiritual work, and settle into this superficial spirituality, never attempting to go any deeper.
“I meet a man at a rehab center who does this for me–helps me remember…In my flesh, I feel jealous of his obvious intimacy with God…and I, the teacher, feel small, entitled, and forgetful. I feel jarred and sparked and raw. I want to sit longer in this place so I can have more of this glossed-down, minimalistic faith.”
I want to be the one who helps others “remember”. And this will move me out of my comfort zone, because there are many who would rather forget…or at least be selective with their memories of the Savior, relegating them to Easter and Christmas. To be a “retrieval cue” (there’s a great word from college Psychology), a catalyst for God means our presence will prick hearts, rub them raw by our presence, jar them by our faith, spark them by our joy. It means we become the pebble in the shoe, that itchy label that can’t be forgotten. We may be considered uncomfortable people to be around by those who would rather remain easy.
And others may dream in their easy-chairs.
And point their white hands to the scars he bears.
But the palm and the laurel are his — not theirs!
You’ll find when you determine to find your comfort on His breast and at His feet, that there will be those who are very ill-at-ease with that degree of closeness…and it will create distance. This life means you may not be widely liked, or considered the life of the party. It may well be a solitary life for seasons at a time. And so was His.
“When comfort is your immediate priority, God cannot move.”
Oh, how we love our comforts!
Essentially, when we are preoccupied with our own pleasure…physically, spiritually, intellectually, or emotionally…we stifle the heart’s hankerings for eternal things.
“The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal, how can you hope to find inward peace?” ~A.W. Tozer
We satisfy ourselves with “junk food” which temporarily fills our bellies, but does nothing to nourish and can even do harm.
“When it comes to spiritual things it is hard for most of us to be completely honest about what has kept us from God because when we say them out loud they, too, sound silly, like contradictions.”
Next time we feel that contradiction happening inside, whether it is the choice to go to church even though it is blustery outside, or speaking a word for the sake of the gospel to a friend, or giving sacrificially (not comfortably) to help someone in need…maybe we should force ourselves to verbalize the conflicting thoughts. Ouch.
“When I over-insulate it nullifies God’s plan for me to feel the chill of being without and needing Him to be the only one who can take care of that problem.”
We are supposed to feel lost without His presence…because we are. But when we are all cozy in our protective bubble wrap, secure in this world but not in His Word, how will we ever know it?
Without Him I could do nothing
Without Him I’d surely fail
Without Him I would be drifting
Like a ship without a sail
Without Him I would be dying
Without Him I’d be enslaved
Without Him life would be worthless
But with Jesus thank God I’m saved
Oh Jesus, oh Jesus
Do you know Him today
Please don’t turn Him away
Oh Jesus, my Jesus
Without Him how lost I would be.
“I have made myself immobile and sabotaged my joy. This is what comfort does to us: It sabotages the things we really want. Future, dreams, peace, fulfillment, spiritual mobility, joy. We become enslaved by its rules.”
Honestly, this is a primary reason our churches may seem “happy happy happy” but joyless at the same time.
“…there is no end to what this flesh I wear wants in order to feed its ugly monster of comfort.”
The theme of this book is more…more of Him. And less…less of me. Our wanters are never satisfied with what this life can offer…there is always something newer, shinier, tastier, more gratifying, flashier, cushier…it never ends. But with God, what we may have of Him is endless, and every bit of it supremely satisfying!
“But if God is ever going to invade our insides and do that powerful work we groan for, we are going to have to stop sabotaging by insulating ourselves to the point where neither He nor we can move.”
So, what is sabotaging me today? I spent many years coping with chronic illness, so much so that it became my vocation simply to survive in the least amount of pain from day to day. Believe me when I say, the ideas in this post have required a lot of re-educating. But He is willing to teach.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Mt. 11:29
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Phil. 2:5-8