Come Thirsty: Introduction

Reading: Psalm 131; 1 Kings 19:1-18; Mark 10:35-52

 

 

This is awesome, but I’m Thirsty…

I don’t have to tell you: we are incredibly blessed. We live in one of the most desirable countries of the world, in a great city, wonderful opportunities for education and employment, surrounded by stunning natural beauty.

We’re part of a church with a wonderful heritage: the doctrines of grace and a comprehensive Christ honouring worldview.

With all that, you’d expect to find us quite fulfilled as Christians. Satisfied and content. With a sense of inner peace evident across the board

 

How is that going for you?

 

My guess is, despite all this, we’re thirstier and less satisfied than ever. Not content with our spiritual health.

Here are the hints:

 

  • We are increasingly time poor: Even though we’re surrounded by labour saving devices: machines that wash and dry; robotic vacuum cleaners; microwaves; fast food; instant communication; cars – some are very smart – we’re busier than ever!
    • In 1967, testimony to a US Senate Committee estimated that in 1985 we would be working only 22 hrs per week
    • Recent studies indicate that by 2013 working time has increased by 50% in that time
  • We are more stressed
    • Other studies show that people who drive to work are more stressed from that than fighter pilots or riot police
  • We are sleeping less
    • More than 1/3 of adults get less than 6hrs sleep per night (2.5hrs less than in 1900)
  • There are fitness providers everywhere:
    • Pilates, Boot Camps, Gyms – reminding us that we are less active and less fit than we’ve ever been
  • Our schedules are stretched to breaking point
    • Any number of activities for our kids: sport, footy clubs, swimming squad, golf, dance academy, music lessons
  • Technology:
    • According to McCrindle Research, the average Australian spends 10 hours and 19 minutes each day on screen time – and due to ‘multi-screening’ this is achieved in just under 8 hours of linear time
    • Kids in prams have screens, toddlers are learning to swipe before they write, and sometimes before they can talk

 

Breaks in the day that used to be small windows of replenishment for body and soul—like driving in a car, going for a walk, having lunch with a friend—are now filled with noise, interruption and multitasking. What feels like being available and accessible is really a boundaryless existence that offers no protection for those things that are most precious to us. … What feels like convenience is actually robbing us of those things we value most. We are left with bits and pieces of everything rather than experiencing the full substance of anything.

Ruth Haley Barton, ‘Sacred Rhythms

 

And here’s Pastor Dave about to challenge us about our faith, and what we might need to do. And you’re already saying “I can’t do any more than I already am.”

Our dilemma is that I spend most of my week wondering how to get people to engage more, and you’re going home thinking of ways to avoid what I’ve suggested. And right now you’re wondering how you’re ever going to maintain a commitment to faith life which seems unsustainable.

The more we try to do, there more a sense of fulfilment eludes us. Encouragement to read more, pray more, get excited, worship better are met with lowered eyes, pursed lips, and a thought that it can’t be done. And if we ever have the time to think about our soul, maybe the only feeling is that things seem to be slipping away.

Will anything ever satisfy our thirst?

We know it should be living with Jesus. But our behaviour does not match our theology.

Is this you?

Spiritual Fulfilment – Where Art Thou?

Is this why our spiritual passion is sometimes so low? When we’re maxed out on every front, what more can we do?

Here’s a thought: maybe ‘do’ is not the right word. Maybe the last thing we should be thinking about is how to get fired up.

It occurs to me that Elijah was about as frontline and full on in prophetic ministry as you can get. He challenged Ahab and Jezebel so constantly, zealously and powerfully that Ahab was always looking for ways to kill him.

in 1 Kings 17-18, Elijah

  • announced a drought which brought Israel’s economy to ruin
  • organised a spiritual showdown on Mt Carmel which led to holy fire consuming the offering to the Lord
  • put to death 450 false prophets of Baal

You could not get anyone more fired up than Elijah! But all his doing, all that – powerful, passionate ministry left him empty and spent.

Can you imagine that? Calling down holy fire, enacting an astoundingly fearful display of God’s power, but when it’s done, you’re crying like a baby, whinging to God that you’re the only faithful person left on the face of the earth, and wanting to die.

But then God says OK Elijah, let me really show you my power…  Well, what could possibly be more powerful than the scene on Mount Carmel?

“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. …  And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”” (1 Kings 19:11–13, NIV)

Sometimes more vigour, more activity, more doing only makes us more deaf to the voice of God. All our frenetic busyness makes it impossible to hear the still, small voice of the living God. Something else is needed.

Listen carefully:

The soul is like a wild animal—tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. But it is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the bush yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the bush, sit patiently by the base of the tree, and fade into our surroundings, the wild animal we seek might put in an appearance.

Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness – quoted in Sacred Rhythms

How will you ever hear your Lord? How will you pick up his gentle whisper, if you keep living the way you do?

Here’s my question: Are you anywhere near the bush?      …Ever?

When was the last time you sat quietly at the base of the tree?

When was the last time you were still enough, quiet enough, to hear your heart’s desire for God?

To sense his nearness?

How will you ever hear your Lord? How will you pick up his gentle whisper, if you keep living the way you do?

Like a Child Weaned

So. Psalm 131.

Psalm 131 (NIV)

A song of ascents. Of David.

1 My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

2 But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.

3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.

 

Look at verse 2 …

It’s a glorious picture, isn’t it. And perhaps just a bit troubling…

Glorious, because this child is not content because he’s at his mother’s breast. He’s weaned. He’s there in his mother’s arms just loving her. It’s like the rest of the world has disappeared.

To use Palmer’s imagery, he’s at the base of the tree, and his soul is delighting simply in being with his mother. Not because of what she will give, but simply because of  who she is.

 

But it’s also troubling because it is not often our experience. And we should ask why.

So much of our Christianity is grounded on what we think God will give us. He gives us forgiveness. He blesses us with health, he gives family, work and talents, opportunities and leisure. All good things and we love him for them.

But could it be we’re still at his breast, loving him mainly because of what he gives?

Sometimes I doubt whether we ever love him simply because of who he is: our loving God, our creator, our mighty King, the one who loves us better than our mothers ever can, have, or will.

Listen: if you don’t slow down and stop, not only will you become more and more stressed, but you’ll never get to v.2. You’ll never delight in the Lord simply for who he is. You’ll always be on the take.

And if you only worship God for what he gives, not only will you want more and more of what he gives, but you’ll be less and less satisfied and you’ll be thirsty forever.

One day Jesus met a man called Bartimaeus. Born blind. Jesus was leaving Jericho – a troubled city on Israel’s border. Bartimaeus called out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” – and then Jesus asked him the strangest question:

What do you want me to do for you?

Well, what goes through your mind? Pay off the mortgage. Fix my marriage. Conquer my dependencies. Bring my kids to God. …

When thinking about that question, we ought to know Jesus won’t give anything you want. He did not grant the request of James and John (Mark 10:35). No, he won’t give whatever we ask. But he will give what he knows you need.

Bartimaeus, being blind, needed to see. But he was asking for more than vision. He wanted to see Jesus. He wanted to lay eyes on his Saviour! Bartimaeus had been groaning out his prayer for decades because knew that he deepest need was to see God.

Have you ever sat quietly enough, still enough, silent enough, to feel the groaning for fundamental life transforming change welling up inside?

Let me ask:

When was the last time you felt your own longing for God?

For his love?

For life as God intended it to be lived?

Have you ever hear your soul cry out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”?

Have you ever sat quietly enough, still enough, silent enough, to feel the groaning for fundamental life transforming change welling up inside?

That desire to be changed by God and used for his glory is the truest thing about you.

 

This is why the Psalmist calls Israel to put their hope in the Lord. His deepest prayer is that they rest with him like a weaned child. Trusting. Loving. Secure. Confident. Content.

And you?

And me?

We must learn to stop crashing through the bush, sit at the base of the tree, and listen to our soul’s cry for God. He will answer.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Find one block of 30 minutes per week for the next two weeks
  • As you enter into that 30 min period, simply pray “Lord, reveal yourself to me anew, let me feel my own soul’s thirst for you. Open my heart, my eyes, my ears to you. Let me love you for who you are.”
  • Do nothing else during that time: no reading, no prayer, no phone (turn it off!!), no writing, no speaking. Just wait and listen to your soul.
  • After 30 mins, write down your thoughts in a journal or a notes app
  • Sometime during these next two weeks , share your experiences with a friend

 

 

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