Pursuing God: To The Pain?
Thus says the LORD:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the LORD.
Imagine appealing to a people who are not interested and don't care to be. Imagine coming to the aid of a people oppressed defeating their enemies in both the physical and supernatural arenas, only to be forsaken by that same people who, choose the gods of the defeated nation. If you can imagine all that, you can imagine what God feels for His people.
Jeremiah had been faithfully recording what God was saying to the remnant of Israel, namely, you do not listen to Me, because you do not know Me, nor understand Me. This cry of God's heart is echoed in the sentiment, (Leviticus 26:12 (NKJV)) "I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people." Let this fully impact you, God is longing for His people to know Him and understand Him. It is the cry of His heart. The highest pursuit and aim is to know God and to be known by Him.
How do you pursue God?
In the Princess Bride there is a famous scene where the dread pirate Roberts is bluffing Prince Humperdink and threatening him. Humperdink says, "To the death!." Roberts retorts, "No, to the pain!" He then proceeds to paint an incredibly horrid picture explaining what "to the pain" means and Humperdink unceremoniously surrenders.
What is your "to the pain" in your pursuit of God? For me, (roll up your sleeves, it's confession time...), it's sometimes to point of getting my need(s) met. Oh, I feel the squeeze when the need is there, but the minute my prayer gets answered, the focus is not quite as intense as it was and everything is back to status quo.
Psalms 103:7 (NKJV) He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
This verse states that God's goodness and mighty deeds are available to all, but to those who linger in His presence, who pursue beyond the answer and go blithely on their way, there is a revelation of the God of the universe awaiting them.
When I was in Taiwan, a man was pushed up to the front of my prayer line in a wheel chair accompanied by his wife. When my translator inquired about his condition, which had just been verified by a doctor onsite, she told me he had suffered a stroke and couldn't speak well, couldn't lift his right arm and was too weak to walk since the body was ravaged by dysphasia. We prayed a quick prayer and felt that God was ready, willing and able to heal this man and proceeded over the next ten minutes after releasing healing to hear the man speak, lift his arm and then stand up and walk around. His wife was visibly shaken, tears streaming down her face. He had encountered the God of miracles and God demonstrated His incredible nature of goodness to this man.
The next natural question to this dear man was, do you know who did this to you. After some interpretation, we told him about Jesus. "Would you like to know this God and follow Him?", we queried. His answer shocked us as he said , "no", got out of the wheel chair he was pushed in on, and pushed his own wheel chair out. It was utterly shocking. He was happy at knowing and benefitting from the acts of God, but not wanting to press in closer to know His ways.
Now, before you judge this dear man, many times we are like that man. We are quite keen to experience God's power, but not to press on to know the Lord more intimately. You see, I am like that man, for when I pursue God, many times I end up pursuing the end game: what He can do in my life and circumstances. God wants to be pursued in order to be known and understood. The God of the universe and more wants to be pursued, known and understood! This is mind blowing and utterly shocking.
We have been invited, by God, as a priority of life to pursue Him in this way! We have been invited to glory in doing this. This is the God we serve and love.
Listen to this clarion call we read recently from our time n the Life Journal reading plan:
Hosea 6:3 (NKJV) Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
Now is the time to pursue God. Now is the time to press past the miracles (thanking Him for everyone) and glorying in the knowledge of Him. Lovers of God are the only ones that need apply. Our heart stance should be that of Mary of Bethany, pouring out love and worship as an anointed fragrance on the feet of Jesus.
Or maybe like Moses and Joshua.
Exodus 33:11 (NKJV) So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.
I get it.
Our Sunday morning worship culture is not for everyone and is an acquired taste. Ou heart and intent is for you to have encounters with God in His presence so that you will move past your point of "to the pain", past the miracles, to the place of ministering to God and knowing His heart. Tonight, stay a little longer. Linger with Him. Glory in knowing and understanding Him and His inherent goodness.
He is waiting.