Thursday, August 09, 2012

Thirst

My mom is from the Southeast so we would regularly fly out over the summer to spend a week with her family. I remember nearly every trip getting migraine headaches that would lay me up in bed for a day. I would attribute it to the heat and the humidity, but then I took a trip to cooler climate and suffered the same malady. What was common was that I would feel this way the second day after flying, so I figured that maybe it was the recirculated air on-board, or the pressurization of the cabin. But I later learned it was dehydration. Spending 5-6 hours on a plane drinking nothing but free soda and no water has that effect. Since coming to that realization, I now will only drink water on-board and make sure to drink at least another liter of water every time I fly. And I haven’t had such a headache since.

“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.”
(Psalm 1:1-3)

It is funny to look back and recognize that I physically felt ill just because I was thirsty. And because I was filling my body with junk disguised as refreshment, I didn’t recognize my need for pure water.

A.W. Tozer writes “Christ may be ‘received’ without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is ‘saved’ but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.” (Pursuit of God, pg 12)

We are fooled into thinking we are spiritually satisfied by church attendance or religious participation. Meanwhile our souls ache inexplicably. We fail to recognize the thirst that God himself has placed in us. “The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after him.” (pg 9)

It would be easy to jump on my soapbox and compare religiosity to the nutritionally vapid soda from my personal experience. What is interesting is that nearly 70 years ago, Tozer observed the same thing. This is nothing new and whatever I write on some blog is unlikely to change that. Instead I need to look inwardly at my own thirst, and my own temptation to drink deeply from that which does not satisfy.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

In the Beatitude above it is in vogue to translate righteousness instead as justice and miss the point of personal sanctification. The Amplified Bible expands righteousness as "uprightness and right standing with God." The Message Bible  talks of having a "good appetite for God." The temptation, besides an outward focused "justice" is a works-oriented trying hard to do good definition of righteousness. I like the idea combining the two translations above as simply having an appetite to be with God.

My soul thirsts for God. I am hungry to be with Him. Where can I go to satisfy my appetite and be filled? My temptation is to look around and try and find some program, some activity, some quick-fix to my spiritual longing. Tozer addresses this too, "The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart." (pg 15) Simply put, man created religion to satisfy the need to seek out God and his holiness. But it is man-made and can never satisfy. So for every failed method there is an improved program. For every campaign that falls short there is a new marketing program. For every book read and put down there is another best-seller to take its place.

I cannot be satisfied by what the world, even the religious world, offers. Only God himself can satisfy my soul. Only God, God alone. And so I begin this book in The Pursuit of God.

This blog is part of a book club reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Please join the discussion here and at our hosts, Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter. Need a copy of the book? You can get it for free on Kindle.

2 comments:

Jason Stasyszen said...

I like how you point out that this is not a new problem even though plenty try to paint it as a post-modern dilemma or downward trend. People have been quenching (or trying to quench) their thirst with things other than God since the beginning. What matters, and all we can 'control,' is our own personal thirst and how developed it is. I also love how we used essentially the same quote and came up with completely different posts. God displays His uniqueness through us! Thanks Frank.

Fatha Frank said...

That's why I love these discussions. We all have different backgrounds and perspectives that we carry with us to shape our worldview. When we can all come together and share our thoughts on a common theme and see the diversity in each of us, our own perspectives are broadened and we might even learn a thing or two. I appreciate you and Sarah doing this and hopefully I can stick with it this time.