"Does Your Soul Thirst for the Living God?"
"What do you want...?" The rest of the sentence can make the answer either more or less difficult. For instance, if you ask a kid "What do you want be when you grow up?" you’ll typically get a quick and straightforward answer. However, if I ask my wife what she wants to eat as we are driving around town... her answer is never quick or straightforward!
Jokes aside, this question is one we must reflect on. "What do you want?" Ultimately, when you consider life and death, home and family, youth and old age, what do you want from it all? What do you see as the grand purpose?
From a Christian perspective, the ultimate goal is God. "Wait, what?" You may be thinking, "But I thought the goal for Christians is going to Heaven?”
Yes, the ultimate desire of a Christian is God. Theologically speaking, Heaven is an intermediate state where those who die in Christ dwell with God. The finality we long for, however, is to dwell with God in the new creation where Heaven and Earth become one, the place where God is with His people and His people find complete satisfaction in Him.
You see, when one comes to Christ and is changed from the inside out, we come to see reality as it truly is. Human beings are made in such a way that we need God; we need to be worshippers of God. Otherwise, we will exchange worshipping God for any number of idols. Each time, these idols eventually fail us and we move on to the next one. It is only when we come to Christ that we see that what had been missing was God Himself, our true, ultimate desire, whether we recognize it or not.
However, because of the sin-stained world we live in, most of us want to make it all about us. That is, "I'm the most important part of my life." Yet experience tells us that life itself becomes stale and meaningless when our desire is to make it all about ourselves. In other words, we make bad gods.
We often believe that if we focus on bettering our self, on finding our own personal happiness, then everything will be great. The problem is that this type of personal fulfillment is not lasting. The thing that once brought us so much joy and happiness becomes dull and common; we soon lose interest in it. So, we have to leave that behind and find a new thing to give us that buzz and rush once again.
For example, we are in love with idea of "falling in love". We become infatuated with someone and chase after them. However, according to recent statistics, 40-50% of married couples end up divorced. Why is this? Didn't they "fall in love"? The problem is that most marriages begin with the idea that it is all about personal fulfillment. "I love this person because of the way the make me feel." The moment one person does get that same rush or feeling, they move on to another relationship. "This time will be different. This time that feeling will last forever!" Right?
It's not the person we cared about; it was that feeling of something new and exciting. With this in mind, we can see why 30-60% of all married individuals will engage in infidelity at some point in their marriage (Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 193-221). The all-important "I" must be fulfilled, and we see to it that it is, even if it comes to cheating on a spouse, running away from problems, or turning to drugs and alcohol.
When we read God's Word, however, we see that, as people who have been made in the image of God, we are not created for ourselves but for God. We are made to focus on God, worship God, and to reflect His goodness. The writers of the Westminster Catechism had it right when they wrote that "they chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." When we come into a relationship with God through Christ, we start to see life as God intended. We see that all of those things that used to bring fulfillment never actually satisfied.
It is only when we come to truly know our Savior and King (John 17:3) that we find fulfillment that lasts. In God, we find joy inexpressible (1 Peter 1:8) because we recognize that we deserve nothing from God, and yet by His grace have received everything. Every good gift is from God (James 1:17). In response all of our focus and attention should be moved from "self" to Him who actually deserves it. When we put our attention on God, on what has been accomplished for us by Christ upon the cross, and what the Bible teaches us, we will find that everything else will fall into place. Then we can sing that words of the hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" with full hearts knowing that God is all that we need, and He is our primary focus.
A heart that has been made new cries out with the Psalmist, "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:2). The very core of who we are longs to be in communion and fellowship with our Creator. We long to "gaze upon the beauty of the Lord" (Psalm 27:4). Our definitive desire is that of the Apostle Paul; we consider anything we can achieve on our own as worthless because all we want is to "gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8). The only reason Heaven is joyful is because God is there. Without God, Heaven would be Hell.
God is our joy and our gospel. He is our ultimate desire and longing. If you ask me what I want and what I truly want for others, I will say that my prayer is reflected in Christ's prayer, "that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3).
Does your soul thirst for the living God?