Do We Desire Christ’s Presence in our Lives? Does it Show?
Devotional Comment of the Day:
1 One night as I lay in bed, I yearned for my lover. I yearned for him, but he did not come. 2 So I said to myself, “I will get up and roam the city, searching in all its streets and squares. I will search for the one I love.” So I searched everywhere but did not find him. 3 The watchmen stopped me as they made their rounds, and I asked, “Have you seen the one I love?” 4 Then scarcely had I left them when I found my love! I caught and held him tightly. Song of Songs 3:1-4 (NLT)
“1030 My God, when will I love you for yourself? Although when we think about it, Lord, to desire an everlasting reward is to desire you, for you give yourself as our reward.
1031 Taste and see that the Lord is good, the Psalmist says. Spiritual conquest, which is Love, has to be—in big things and small—a desire for the Infinite, for eternity”.(1)
If you gather ten average men together, they will talk about the desires they have for their baseball or football teams. They will do so with great energy, with a competitive fever, and with an incredible level of enthusiasm. You will have great trouble changing the subject. A similar group of men will wax eloquent about their cars, and the experience driving them, or the cars they dream of driving. ( My preference – just one of two cars from 1970-71 – the Triumph Spitfire or Datsun 240z)
But change the subject and ask them to talk about the passion and admiration they have for their wives, how thye adore them and value them, and they clam up. ABout the only thing they will discuss with less emotion is their faith.
And that is a problem.
A serious problem.
There are even books out there advising pastors to not talk about God and our relationship with Him, for it will drive men away. Tenderness, compassion, caring, deep love, these are words that we are told we cannot continue to use, for men will turn off their minds, and stop listening to the sermon, or the lesson. Talk about the logic of Christianity, the proofs of it, heavy theology fine. Create systems and programs and methods for growing the church? Fine. Desire for Christ’s presence? Nope. Christ’s passion and compassion for people? Never! Spend an hour weeping and praying over the brokenness of our communities, begging God to show us how to intervene? You have to be kidding.
It is it any wonder that we’ve ripped the heart out of the church, that we our passion for the lost, the hurting, the broken has all but dried up? That our church’s have developed into houses of reason, that the “approved music” by denominations is complex and majestic and too dang hard for the average person to sing and praise their God with? We’ve taught people that they can’t trust their emotions, forgetting that in Christ, those emotions have been cleansed, that in baptism the heart of stone has been replaced by a heart of flesh. Desire for God is dismissed, too pietistic, too emotional, and those things don’t belong in church, we are told.
Is it any wonder our churches are dying?
The above quote in red is from the Song of Solomon, and ancient commentators thought of it as an appropriate description of the emotinal bond between Christ and His Beloved, the people that are gathered as the church. The desire there described would blow past any limitations in order to see, to be with, to know (not just “biblically”) the Beloved. And the beloved responds in a similar manner. Desire, longing, and emptiness when the presence of the loved one isn’t there. Other theologians have said it can’t be, and I wonder if it is less because of the physically intimate talk, or because of the transparent desire for the presence of God.
St Josemaria didn’t hesitate in describing such love, neither writers like C.S. Lewis (read Till We Have Faces) and Gene Edwards or George McDonald, philosophers like Pascal, pastors like Luther and Wesley. Songs like Amazing Grace and It is Well and A Mighty Fortress in their completeness describe this desire, this longing, this adoration of God, and of His desire to make His presence clear in our lives, as He does throughout all of scripture!
“I will be your God, and you will be My people! (Leviticus 6:12 and many more places!)
God desires a relationship with us, He desires to pour out His love upon us, that is what salvation is all about. A God passionate for His people. A God who would do more than move heaven and earth for His people, a God who would prove out His love by sacrificing His Son.
Yeah – that’s intimidating, but also so incredible, so overwhelming,
And it is a treasure that we can share, for as we come to know His desire for us, we realize it is a desire for the world, and for our family, neighbors and friends.
HIs desire for us, even before we cry, “Lord have mercy”, is an answer to that cry…
May we respond to His desire for us, with a growing desire to spend our lives in His presence, and exhausting ourselves in that which pleases Him.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3643-3647). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on February 25, 2014, in Devotions and tagged Amazing Grace, C.S. Lewis, Church, desire, Emotions, Gene Edwards, George McDonald, God, Heart of Christ, joy, love, Ministry, presence of god, Song of Solomon, Song of Songs, St. Josemaria Escriva. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.