This week a dear friend sent me this quote from Oswald Chambers’ devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest :
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin” – they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars, and the moon – all of these simply are as well – yet what a ministry and service they render on our behalf! So often we impair God’s designed influence, which He desires to exhibit through us, because of our own conscious efforts to be consistent and useful. Jesus said there is only one way to develop and grow spiritually, and that is through focusing and concentrating on God. In essence, Jesus was saying, “Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe on Me.” In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you “will flow rivers of living water”. We cannot discover the source of our natural life through common sense and reasoning, and Jesus is teaching here that growth in our spiritual life comes not from focusing directly on it, but from concentrating on our Father in heaven. Our heavenly Father knows our circumstances, and if we will stay focused on Him, instead of our circumstances, we will grow spiritually – just as “the lilies of the field.”
Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
This is such a great reminder! How often I try to fix myself and make myself grow by trying to change my habits or be more self-disciplined, when really all I need is to focus on my relationship with God, and let Him take care of changing me. Or else I get so caught up in my service for God – or as Chambers puts it, “being of use to others” – that I let it become a substitute for relating to Him.
This lesson was reinforced to me this weekend in listening to a couple of old audio tapes by the late Texas Baptist preacher Ron Dunn. In commenting on Hebrews 11:6, he said that the primary thing God wants from me is not my service but my searching. Service is merely the overflow of a life that seeks Jesus.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
– Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
One of the theologians I learned more about in the seminary class I’m currently taking is Anselm of Canterbury. He wrote a book on the atonement, Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man), that continues to influence our view of what Christ accomplished on the cross. A while ago I found this prayer by Anselm in an anthology by Ken Gire called Between Heaven and Earth: Prayers and Reflections That Celebrate an Intimate God. This prayer makes it obvious to me that Anselm was not only an intellectual, but had a deep passion for God that I think is worthy of imitation. Continue reading “I Am Desperate For Your Love, Lord”
Righteousness is the natural and essential food of the soul, which can no more be satisfied by earthly treasures than the hunger of the body can be satisfied by air. If you should see a starving man standing with mouth open to the wind, inhaling drafts of air as if in hope of gratifying his hunger, you would think him lunatic. But it is no less foolish to imagine that the soul can be satisfied with worldly things which only inflate it without feeding it.
– Bernard of Clairvaux, from On Loving God
(as quoted in 90 Days With The Christian Classics)
This quote brought to mind a whole host of verses dealing with finding our satisfaction in God. I’ll just let a few of them speak for themselves:
John 4:31- 34 (NIV)
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."
But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?"
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."
Psalm 63:1-5 (NIV)
O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
John 6:35 (NIV)
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."
Psalm 34:8-10 (NIV)
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Matthew 5:6 (NIV)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.