What Does God ‘Desire’? [v93]
WHAT DOES GOD ‘DESIRE’?—It’s probably pretty easy for you and I to make a list of our ‘desires’—some are ‘altruistic’ and others are just for ‘grins’.
Well, I’ve read that the major ‘areas’ of one’s life are: mental/spiritual; career/financial; family/social; and physical. So, with that in mind, here’s a few desires that came to mind for me:
- Use my abilities to help the ‘under-privileged’
– Go skydiving and scuba diving
– Continually become a more compassionate and giving person
– Eat healthy and exercise at least 3 times a week
– Visit at least one place on each continent
– Have a ‘maxed out’ MacBook Pro portable computer (and a HD camera would be a neat addition)
– Create a full-length movie
– Create an income ‘stream’ that frees me up to do ‘ministry’
– Race a Formula 1 car on Mid Ohio (or I guess Monaco would be okay)
– Help plant churches
– Become ‘half-way’ proficient on guitar
– Develop ‘intimate’ and ‘supportive’ relationships (‘physical’ and ‘spiritual’)
– ‘Spoil’ Arielle’s and Tyler’s kids
– Have a ‘passion’ for life…daily—and until my last minute
– Help someone understand the full impact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for their life
I’m sure I could ‘run up’ quite a list—as could you. I have a real good idea about what I want, but how could I ever know what GOD DESIRES?—especially what He wants FROM ME?
Well, the Bible has a lot to say about this. Even though I have a few thoughts on what it says about this, author John Ortberg summarized it better than I ever could. He said, “The story of the Bible isn’t primarily about the desire of people to be with God; it’s the desire of God to be with people.”
Now, most people probably wouldn’t have given an answer like that if they were asked what the Bible says. So I ‘Googled’ it and chose a few of the responses I found:
- “Obedience to God, to keep his laws and commandments and norms and rules.”
– “Hate, despair, mindlessness, guilt, uselessness, and lies.”
– “Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth”
– “…that God exists and mankind should strive to love him.”
– “An intellectually confined and antiquated religion.”
– “Purely a piece of fiction.”
– “Do what we say or our god will kick your butt!”
– “Jesus came to earth to save humanity from eternal separation from God, that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.”
The comments varied greatly—as they have for thousands of years. Many people commented that it seems that God is really “distant” and “removed” from their everyday lives.
Well, for me, being a ‘visually’ oriented person, I came across an explanation of pretty powerful image by a master artist that I’ve got to believe that most of us have seen—but I really never ‘saw’ in quite this way.
The image is a portion of Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel—the area that depicts Adam and God.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the ‘cropped’ image of the two fingers almost touching, but until you see the entire image, you don’t really understand what was trying to be presented.
(Here’s a link so you can see the ‘detail’ pic:
The hand on the left is Adam’s. Now, notice how his finger is ‘bent’—not fully ‘extended’—and the other finger, God’s, is fully extended. Then, when you ‘zoom out’ to see the whole image, you’ll notice that the figure of God is extended toward ‘man’ with great vigor. He twists His body to move it as close to the man as possible. His head is turned toward the man, and his gaze is ‘fixed’ on him. God’s arm is stretched out; His index finger extended straight forward; and every muscle is taut.
(Here’s a link so you can see an ‘overview’ pic:
Adam, on the other hand, has his arm ‘partially’ extended toward God, but his body reclines in a ‘lazy’ pose, leaning backward as if he has no interest at all in making a ‘connection’. Maybe he assumes that God, having come this far, will close the gap. Maybe he is indifferent to the possibility of touching his creator. Maybe he lacks the strength. All he would have to do is ‘lift a finger’!
Apparently, one of the messages that Michelangelo wanted to convey is God’s implacable determination to reach out to and BE WITH the person He created. God is as close as He can be. But having come that close, He allows just a little space, so that Adam can CHOOSE. He waits for Adam to make his ‘move’.
One art critic commented about the image that, “all of man’s potential, physical and spiritual, is contained in this one timeless moment.” What Michelangelo is ‘saying’ is that mankind is being OFFERED life with God—and it’s UP TO US. God IS closer than we think!
It’s interesting that in the Bible (God’s ‘love letter’ TO us), the “Psalms” are a collection of ‘communications’ to God—and the most frequent kind of psalm was one that man ‘CRIED OUT’ to God wondering ‘where’ He was. Well, God isn’t ‘offended’ by these cries—and actually has some ‘first-hand’ experience with it too.
When Jesus came to Earth, He entered into our painful ‘world’. When He was on the cross, the ‘cry’ of His that expressed the anguish of His soul was, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Psalm 22:1]. He experienced the same ‘disconnectedness’ we feel sometimes with God—that’s how much He identifies with us.
Isn’t that the ultimate paradox? God experiencing the absence of God so that He can draw close to us in our loss and grief—and even in our ‘God-foresakeness’! God (Jesus) was, in a sense, NEVER CLOSER to us than when He was FARTHEST from the Father!
God is not in His ‘ivory tower’ throwing down lighting bolts at us—He has given His Spirit to His followers to guide them through this life on earth and to prepare them for ‘eternity’ in Heaven with Him.
But, it is more interesting to note that the most frequent PROMISE from God in the Bible is that He would “BE WITH US”—always present, always ‘watching’, and always ‘protecting’ us! (I’m thinking He’s got your picture on His ‘refrigerator’).
When Jesus was alive physically on the earth, people experienced the ‘presence’ of God when they saw the body of Jesus—and today, 2,000 years later, we experience the presence of God when we see the ‘body of Christ’ (His followers)—with the Bible noting that ALL of us were made in the “image of God”—so I’m thinking there’s probably some kind of ‘place’ in us that ‘longs’ for God.
In the Book of Acts (17:27-28) in the Bible it says, “His [God’s] purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.”
Years ago, Mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) insightfully said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known by Jesus Christ.”
This is true and vital but I would dare to suggest that it doesn’t present the entire picture for as there is a God-shaped vacuum (or ‘cup’ as I like to put it) within the heart of all of us, there is also a people-shaped ‘cup’. And while our God-shaped ‘cup’ needs to be filled with the love of God, our people-shaped ‘cup’ needs to be filled with the love of people.
If either one of these ‘cups’ is empty life can feel void and meaningless. And then we seek to fill the void within and deaden the pain of our empty lives with things, endless activities, seeking approval, super-busyness, illicit sex, alcohol, drugs and stuff, stuff, and more stuff—and, at least here in the West, we are left longing in the midst of a land of plenty.
The fact is that God has created us for relationships both with Himself and each other. It has been rightfully said that 80 percent of life’s satisfaction comes from the quality of our relationships. Without loving relationships we limp along in the shadows of life and will most likely die long before our time. While it may not be desirable, we can live without romantic love, but we cannot live healthily without healthy loving relationships with at least one or two—and preferably more—other persons.
Furthermore, without a meaningful relationship with God, there is a deep sense of spiritual emptiness of the soul. When God created mankind, he created us with the capacity to communicate with him, to be connected to him in spirit. The tragedy is that when sin entered the human race, we were separated or disconnected from God. But because God loved us he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for all our sins so we could be reconnected to God and then, through Jesus, get our God-cup or “vacuum” filled.
So, I’m suggesting that people are one of the ‘methods’ of connecting with God while here on earth. Referring back to the Sistine Chapel on this, in another area there is what is called, “The Oration on the Dignity of Man.” It stresses the creation of human beings as ‘carriers’ of the divine image—they are “manifestations of human dignity reflecting the divine.” Again, Michelangelo himself described human beings as the veils through whom we see God Himself:
“God, in His grace, shows Himself nowhere more
To me, than through some veil, mortal and lovely,
Which I will love for being His mirror.”
One of the best books I know of that ‘instructs’ one on how to connect with God is called “Practicing His Presence,” by Frank Laubach—a missionary, writer, and friend of God, who died in 1970.
The book is a combination of his letters with those of Brother Lawrence (“Spiritual Maxims”), a monk in 17th century France.
The writings give one a sense of hope, and that there is the possibility that one can have a relationship with God—where they are continually ‘aware’ of God’s presence!
The following are a few of the many highlights to give you a ‘taste’ of the book:
- “Busy yourself with keeping your mind in the presence of the Lord.”
– “My most normal habit is to simply keep my attention on God, and to be generally and lovingly aware of Him.”
– “I occupy myself solely with keeping my attention on God and by being generally and lovingly aware of Him.”
– “We have an infinitely good God who knows what we need.”
– “Console yourself with the One who keeps you fastened to the cross.”
– “We should love our friends, but without prejudicing the love of God which must be first.”
– “Think often about Him; worship Him without ceasing. Life and die with Him. This is the beautiful call in the life of a Christian.”
– “…we should love one another through our words of counsel and even more through our good examples.”
– “…our only business in this life is to please God. … my little progress in the path of perfection.”
– “I applied myself to practicing the presence of God … Doing this gave me such a high esteem for God that faith alone was capable of satisfying me.”
– “A devout woman told me that the spiritual life is a life of grace that begins with service fear, increases through the hope of eternal life, and is consummated by pure love.”
So, God’s PREFERRED dwelling place is IN PEOPLE.
Here’s a little story sums up what I trying to say very well:
There once was a little boy who wanted to meet with God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer and he started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just starting at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her a Twinkie.
She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Once again she smiled at him. The boy was delighted.
They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word. As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. He gave her the biggest smile ever.
When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” ”I had lunch with God,” he replied. But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.” Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, “Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?”
She replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” But before her son responded, she added, “You know, he is much younger than I expected.” [Author Unknown]
Author Frank Laubach wrote of a ‘method’ of how to continually experience God in our interactions with other people. He termed it the “CIHU” prayer—standing for “Can I Help You?” This one ‘prayer’ can set a powerful dynamic of God’s action into motion! (So beware—use it ‘judiciously’—you will probably ‘see’ God ‘work’ is ways you couldn’t have imagined!).
John Ortberg, the author of “God Is Closer Than You Think,” related in the book a ‘prayer’ of his own: “God, make up there come down here”—essentially paraphrasing a couple of phrases in the “Lord’s Prayer” that says, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Jesus also made a point about this in one of His parables by saying, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
So, go out and MEET WITH GOD today—MEET WITH SOMEONE and serve them in Jesus’ name.
Your ‘assignment’ then (“if you choose to accept it”), will be to go out into your ‘world’ to look and listen for God in each person you meet.
My ‘prayer’ then, for all of us, would be that we all may experience God’s love—which truly can consume all other passions—and be filled with His ‘amazing’ grace—which then can ‘empower’ you to truly love your “neighbors” (everyone) as yourself.
[Excerpts: Ken Larson; John Ortberg; Justin Saxton]
(If you’re interested, here’s a link for a ‘summary booklet’ of “God Is Closer Than You think”:
LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v93) for NOVEMBER 2006
DEFINING THE BIBLE
The New Testament is CONTAINED in the Old Testament;
The Old Testament is EXPLAINED in the New Testament.
The New Testament is CONCEALED in the Old Testament;
The Old Testament is REVEALED in the New Testament.
The New Testament is AUTHENTICATES in the Old Testament;
The Old Testament is ANTICIPATES in the New Testament.
The New Testament is LIES HIDDEN in the Old Testament;
The Old Testament is LIES OPEN in the New Testament.
The New Testament is PREDICTS a Person;
The Old Testament is PRESENTS that Person.
[Roy Gustafson – “Food for Thought”]
YOU’RE A PUMPKIN
Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin.
God lifts you up, takes you in,
and washes all the dirt off of you.
He opens you up, touches you deep inside,
and scoops out all the yucky stuff–
including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc.
Then He carves you a new smiling face
and puts His light inside you to shine
for all the world to see.
[Received from Bonnie Lees]
THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT
In just a few weeks, Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that people of all faiths observe. But between stuffing the turkey and watching football, we ought to make sure our children and grandchildren understand the Christian roots of this holiday, which are often downplayed in school. The first step is to brush up on the details ourselves.
On September 6, 1620, the “Mayflower” set sail from England. Ten perilous weeks later, the Pilgrims arrived on the northern tip of Cape Cod. As my friend Barbara Rainey writes in her excellent book, “Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember”, “This was about sixty miles north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River.” Should they sail south, or stay put?
After much discussion and prayer, they decided to stay. But when the passengers learned of this, dissension broke out. The Pilgrims had a charter with a company that was effective only at the original landing site. As Rainey writes, “The bonded servants on board [who were not Pilgrims] argued that [the decision to stay] changed the terms of their work agreement.” The Pilgrims were afraid that these men would declare their independence and deplete the labor supply. Something had to be done to restore unity.
As the “Mayflower’s” captain worked his way around the Cape, searching for a place to drop anchor, an intense debate ensued. By nightfall, the leaders had drafted an agreement, called the Mayflower Compact. Among its key clauses were these words: “Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith . . . a voyage to plant the First Colony . . . [we] solemnly . . . in the presence of God and of one another, Covenant . . . ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic. . . . “
As Rainey writes, the compact was a hedge against revolt, but it meant much more. The Pilgrims took it seriously; their Bible told them just how significant covenants were. In the Old Testament, God created covenants between Himself and His people, the Israelites. In the New Testament, God covenants with all who choose to follow Him through the life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As Rainey writes, the Pilgrims “journeyed to this new land to proclaim by their lives this message of redemption, the New Covenant, and the light of Christ. This covenant that God established with His people became their model for the Mayflower Compact as well as for the peace treaty they established with Massasoit and his people. They knew a God who keeps His word, and therefore they were faithful to keep their word, their promises to one another and to others.”
The Mayflower Compact became one of the most important documents in American history—and yet, its religious language may make some teachers reluctant to teach it. But that same language reveals the lengths to which the Pilgrims were willing to go to follow the Lord.
If you have youngsters in your family, consider giving them a copy of Barbara Rainey’s book “Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember”. And talk about it at Thanksgiving: Let them learn how a small band of ordinary people covenanted together to build a new life—and to serve one another through Jesus Christ. That’s something you can really be thankful for.
There are ‘ways’ to connect to God, termed “spiritual pathways.” These are methods to ‘connect’ with God that are common for all of us here on earth.
It ‘looks’ a bit different for each of us, but usually we favor a few of them over the others. They are:
– Intellectually (Reading and study)
– Relationally (Being around people)
– Serving (Involved in helping people)
– Worshipping (Praise and adoration)
– Actively (Mobilizing people behind a cause)
– Contemplatively (Silence and solitude)
– Creationally (Nature is ‘life-giving’)
I CAN ONLY IMAGINE
I can only imagine what it will be like,
When I walk by Your side.
I can only imagine what my eyes will see,
When Your face is before me.
I can only imagine, I can only imagine.
Surrounded by Your glory what will my heart feel,
Will I dance for You Jesus, or in awe of You be still.
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall,
Will I sing halleluiah, will I be able to speak at all.
I can only imagine, I can only imagine.
I can only imagine, when that day comes,
When I find myself standing in the Son.
I can only imagine when all I will do,
Is forever, forever worship You.
I can only imagine, I can only imagine.
Live your life in such a way that the preacher doesn’t have to lie at your funeral.
[Received from Chris Rusher]
Truce is better than friction.
Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!
Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” [Psalms 139:7].
Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.
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