Monday, December 3, 2007

What do I hunger for?

I am relatively new to seeking God through bible study and really trying to discover what the bible says. I am relatively new to the idea of seeking to live a life that glorifies the Father. I am new to many spiritual disciplines. So let me begin this post by saying I do no fast. I have never fasted. I have never even been taught the purpose of fasting. I have never heard someone talk from personal experience about fasting. I never got it and I was OK with that. I mean if no one really talks about it they either must not be doing it or else it isn't that significant. I have heard people talk about fasting a few times, like when we were looking for a new Senior pastor for our church or when some missionaries where trying to decide if and where they should go. But for the average person, it just did not seem all that necessary to me. It must be something for the spiritually elite.
I just recently began reading the book, A Hunger For God by John Piper. God is really challenging me with what I am reading. It says on the front cover that the book is about desiring God through prayer and fasting.
I started reading this book at the recommendation of my husband. You see, I have problem with balance in my life, in many areas, but I am specifically referring to the balance between prayer and bible study. I tend to be either prayer heavy or bible heavy, but I usually am not doing both well at any given time. I am currently doing a scripture heavy bible study so I have been leaning on the bible heavy side. I decided that I needed to pick up a book on prayer so I picked up Priscilla Shriers book titled He speaks to Me. God did meet me through that book and the scriptures I was studying at that time and He worked to quiet my soul and to help me increase my understanding of resting in Him(but that is for another post). I knew when I was done with that book that I desired to continue to read on the spiritual discipline of prayer. When I mentioned this to my husband he recommended this book by John Piper. Even though I wasn't all that excited about the fasting stuff I decided to read it and figured I would learn something. I am a little over halfway through the book and God is challenging me. I thought I would share some of the quotes that I have been thinking on.
*** The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable and almost incurable. Page 14
***If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestations of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world, your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. Page 23
***From time to time we need to test ourselves to see if we have begun to love his gifts in place of God. Page 45
***Fasting is a way of revealing to ourselves and confessing to God what is in our hearts. Where do we find our deepest satisfaction - in God or His gifts? Page 58
***The question is: having tasted the goodness of God in the gospel, how can I maximize my enjoyment of him, when every moment of my life I am tempted to make a god out of his good gifts? Page 62
***The absence of fasting is indicative of our comfort with the way things are. No one fasts to express how content they are. People only fast out of dissatisfaction...The absence of fasting is the measure of our contentment with he absence of Christ. Page 93
***Are we settled into this world so comfortably that the thought of fasting for the end of history is unthinkable? Page 95
***Do you love Jesus so much that His coming would be the greatest thing you can imagine?...How would you feel about being told that fasting for the King's coming may reflect how much you want he Bridegroom to come?...Do we want the appearance of Jesus more than we want to finish our career and family plans? Or our next meal? Page 96
I do not know if these strike you hard, but I must confess they do me. Especially the questions at the end, the ones about Christ's return. Just reading the question about His coming being the greatest thing I can imagine brought tears to my eyes and I must admit it is not because I can give a resounding yes! Yes, I do get discouraged by this world. The evil in this fallen place is often hard to look at and all to often I simply choose to look the other way rather than deal with it. I mean, rape, abortions, and the physical persecution of God's elect around the world are hard things to stomach. Sometimes, I truly ache for Christ's coming. I long (at times) to be in Christ's presence, where pain and sorrow will be no more, where sin will no longer reign in my life or those around me, and when God's glory will shine brighter than I can even fathom. I do eagerly await that time, but if I am honest, the truth is that I am stuffed by the gifts of this world. Good things, like my husband and kids, comfort of my home, and food in the pantry. So often this life satisfies me. Yes, part of this satisfaction is my relationship with Jesus Christ, but much of it is from the goodness of the gifts He has given me that all to often shift and become idols in my heart. Lord forgive me for not be able to pray often enough "Thy Kingdom Come" and really mean it!

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