Popeye's and Pentecost
“A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age."
C.S. Lewis - The Weight of Glory and Other Essays
I’m writing this sitting in a Popeye’s waiting to meet with a powerful person in the kingdom. I mention that because there is an amazing mix of Cajun, blues and New Orleans Jazz playing in the restaurant. The very interesting microphone of this age is playing rather loudly and I find myself unfocused and distracted by it.
See, that is how easy it is to get distracted. I sat down to type and all I can hear is the blues, good blues, but nonetheless, not what I was aiming for.
It’s not that I want to be distracted, especially knowing in my heart that Pentecost Sunday is coming this weekend. This Pentecost Sunday will be the first time in a year for us to celebrate what the Lord has done and is doing through the precious gift of our closest friend, the Holy Spirit. So, I really want to tune into Him. But alas, sometimes I fail at it and find the process of "tuning in" a grind. It’s in these crazy, surreal moments that I call to mind the lessons of Psalm 84, and remember what passion for the Lord looks and sounds like.
Remember from this last week, how I talked about the passion that is out there in front of us, a passion that remains?
My soul longs, yes, even faints; For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
What does your soul long for?
I was talking to a pastor friend today who told me about a new, very restrictive diet he was on. We both laughed as we recounted the truth that you never really want something until you can't have it. John Dawson, the President of YWAM (Youth with a Mission), once said about fasting that he normally would not desire something until he told himself he couldn't have it. It was after that announcement he had decided to fast, would begin to fight against amazingly abundant desires to break into, not only his own food storage, but that of every neighbor down the street as well! That, my friends, is a longing.
Recently, the Lord told me to get off of Instagram, Twitter and social media outlets. (I am not telling you this so you get off of them, nor do I feel any holier than any other person who is able to still watch and partake.) It was a moment where I accidentally discovered and uncovered more than I wanted or needed. When that happened, I immediately asked the Lord, "What do you want me to do?" His reply was the removal of a lot of stuff on my phone - Twitter, Instagram. Parler, Rumble, etc. . You name the media forum, I had it. He instructed me to get off news feeds that would interfere with my longing for Him.
So I did it and was okay for a few days. I told a lot of people (always helpful when you want to change), and then I replaced what I had been doing, reading newsfeeds and stories, with seeking Him in some new and some familiar ways.
Then it hit, a desire, a familiarity, a longing for the platforms. I was embarrassed, humbled and shocked into the reality of how much I relied on those mediums for news, sports, politics and finance. Sounds noble, right? Wrong. It was a form of entertainment, or to be more accurate, "amusement", from the Greek, "muse"- to think or be inspired, and the negative multiplier in Greek, "a", which creates the opposite. I was engaging in non-thinking, non-inspirational practices. The sad part was they became a desire, a longing that I didn't even recognize until I asked the Lord.
C.S. Lewis described my problem with my passion for God this way in his book, "The Weight of Glory":
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The Psalmist, who wrote these lines in Psalm 84 was like you and I. His sincere desire was to be in the place where his "sole" and "soul" longing was for the LORD and His gathering place of people.
Fainting, Couches and Floors - my soul longs, yes, even faints...
I have only fainted once in my life due to being sick and dehydrated. It wasn't my favorite moment. It was only after getting some water into my system, that my body really longed for, that I recovered. Have you ever felt that way about getting into God's presence with others? Felt like, if you didn't get to a place where they sought the Lord, you would never make it? That kind of hunger and thirst always gets rewarded by God. To seek Him like you are parched without Him is referred to often in scripture, see Psalms 42 and 63 for examples, but it something I have only seen in times of revival and renewal. It is exactly that kind of heart position that God is calling for in this hour and every hour. The place where we don't care who sees us weak without Him, just that we must have Him, is the place of the greatest transfer of strength!
So, here is what I asked myself during this season, "Is God more like a supplemental soda in your life, or water, life giving, essential, and the very substance we are made of?" Your answer to that is what will determine your next season.
Attuned to Him - "my heart and flesh cry out for the living God..."
Our bodies and souls are hardwired to hear from and know God. They are times in passionate worship, both loud and boisterous, and in turns, quiet and intense, that our hearts and bodies are crying out for God. He knows how to speak their language. Indeed, it is true! God knows heart and body language. There have been times where I can feel this thing the Psalmist is talking about, a longing, a pining inside that I don't even have the words for. That, if I was given the choice in a moment of rapturous worship, I would choose to slip "this mortal coil" in order to be with Him forever. It is an inexpressible yearning, inclination towards, and need for Him that I have simply groaned in love sick throes that would only find its fulfillment in Him. You see, when we feel this love and passion, it is not for a religious moment or memory, but for the living God. He is the God who always responds with passion of His own. His passionate love is always on display. His Son's "passion" was an event in history and a current reality for those of us in His covenant by grace through faith. He is not Spock. He is a passionate lover who seeks us more than we seek Him. (John 4:23,24)
"And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them." - Acts 2:40,41
Who is it that, when I cannot express what I really, really long for, goes past my surface feelings to express the deepest longing of my heart to God? It is our closest Friend, our Confidant, our Companion on the journey, our Downpayment fo what heaven is like, the Holy Spirit of God! Pentecost Sunday isn't just about an outpouring of power, miracles and evangelism, for those are outcomes of the real, incredible, religion-defying and grace-enabling act, that the idea, the reality of Immanuel, God with us, has become the ultimate expression of the Holy Spirit living inside each of us! Pentecost resulted in 3,000 getting saved, but it began with the great outpouring of the "temple courts" to the "holiest of holies" now being established with men. You and I, we who have been made a part of this beautiful, wonderful conspiracy of redemption, have the overwhelming first fruits of salvation poured out on us and in us through the person of the Holy Spirit, a downpayment on what is to come! (Let that work its way into your heart and explode with anticipation for the consummation of the kingdom!)
Simply put, this call for passion is not a "solo shot", it is now woven through, enabled, and vocalized by the Holy Spirit in and through our lives. We now not only have God speaking heart and body language, but He is enabling our heart and flesh to speak to Him in His language. It is a wondrous dance of love between us. When I speak of it and write it, I want it more and more. I would give up a million things for it. That is what makes this Pentecost Sunday special. Last year, we were secluded, only a few were able to seek Him together with us. This year we are focused, free, and set on His heart. I would love to be doubled over in passion and longing this week and look around and see everyone else in the same place. Sometimes I want to shout, (not something I do often these days), and say, "Don't you see it? Do you not understand who you really are? Who you were really meant to be? You were made for exquisite union with the God of the universe through the person of the Holy Spirit because of what Jesus has done! You are not a mere mortal! You were made for the greatest communion of all, deep communion with Him!
Well, I finished. Apparently, sometimes all you need to focus is a change of focus and scenery. As we get ready to gather this weekend, on Pentecost Sunday, let's let our feelings out a bit. Let's confess our desire and need for Him. Let's come with a great expectation of His meeting us here, like the gathering of many small flames into one, giant bonfire of love.
Someone once said, "If you are set ablaze in the Holy Spirit, people will come for miles to watch you burn." I will bring the sacrifice, He will provide the fire.
Here is the audiobook on Youtube for The Weight of Glory. Well worth listening to: