The ideal Christian life is one . . . of unquenchable thirst, of bottomless yearning, of divine discontent-wooed ever on by visions of holier living, higher joy, and new attainments. (J.R Miller, Book: Christlike Living in a Sinful World)
There is this famous hymn As the Deer written by Marty Nystrom. I developed a habit of always searching for stories behind hymns that bless my soul. The story behind this particular hymn by Marty was quite fascinating. The whole thing began when he developed a crush on a certain girl. You know, when this happens, the world stops, nothing else matters. You continuously want that special person by your side. Seeing them brings that never-ending warm fuzzy feeling, and the longing never ends. Marty (now living in Seattle) learnt that this lady was going for a six-week summer program in Dallas, Texas. He quickly enlisted to the program so that he can be around her.
But it all ended in heartbreak. Marty was unable to woo her, leaving him in grief. His roommate challenged him to fast and dedicate his time chasing after God, surviving only on water. After 19 days into the fast, something remarkable happened as he was reading his bible. Marty said, “God gave me a melody for Psalm 42:1. I just began to sing right off the page… literally.” Within minutes, he had written the hymn As the Deer. Psalm 42:1 describes for us a deep yearning the psalmist had to know God. Marty, however, was consumed by worldly passions and his spiritual hunger was diminished.
A BRUISED REED
After reading those lines at the start of this article from Miller’s book, it dawned on me that the description of an “ideal Christian” didn’t apply in my spiritual life. Miller here was expounding one of my favourite verses in the bible, Matthew 5:6 that says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled!”
I’ve taught and shared with others about that verse a couple of times, but now my life wasn’t reflecting it. Miller mentions that many of us have been too satisfied with ourselves just the way we are. Some of us have achieved a small measure of peace, of holiness, of faith, of joy, of knowledge of Christ, and we are not hungering for more. He then urges us, “Pray for discontent with your spiritual state!”
Psalm 63:1 the psalmist continues to express his craving, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” This can only happen when we recognize our spiritual poverty, for the Kingdom of God only belongs to such people (Matthew 5:3). Spiritual discontentedness is what pushes us to seek more of God daily. Last year asked God to teach me contentment in life.
Maybe I should also ask him to give me spiritual discontentment since that has been lacking in me. Prayer seemed a great deal of work. I could read my bible as a duty for I saw nothing new or exciting. My spiritual fire was shouldering underneath, and my soul weak. I was indeed, a bruised reed. Matthew 12:20). Through these trying times, God taught me some invaluable lessons on how to have that endless daily desire for him.
If you are familiar with kids, you wouldn’t want to allow them snack right before the supper, or else they won’t eat. They then end up demanding for food in the middle of the night. Snacks temporarily satisfy hunger and give feelings of fullness. Sin does the same thing for us; it gives us a false pleasure. C.S Lewis said, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.”
To explain why this is true, he continues to argue, “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.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses)
Sin weakens our desire for God and creates a separation (Isaiah 59:2) I entertained those seemingly “little sins” and in the process wandered away from God. To have “visions of holier living, higher joy, and new attainments” we must brutally deal with any sins in our lives.
Eat until you are hungry
I once did an in-depth study on Mathew 5:6 while going through the Sermon on the Mount. That is when I came across that this idea by Dan Delzell, of eating until you are hungry. Conventional wisdom suggests otherwise. It will sound unnatural and unscientific if we only associate hunger with our natural hunger.
The more we gaze at the glorious infinite God, the more our finite inglorious beings desire to know and experience Him more. Paul received surpassing revelations and visions from God (2 Corinthians 12:2) and was even caught up in the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:7) yet in Philippians 3:10 expresses the desire to know more. Read more and more of God’s word, pray more even when you don’t feel like, and you have more appetite for him. I’ll end this point by Sinach lyrics from the song ‘More of You.’
I want more of You Jesus
The more I know You, the more I want to know You
Jesus more of You
The more we worship you, the more we want to worship
The more we lift our hands, the more we lift ’em higher
Dine with others
Dietitians will tell you it’s not just what we eat that matters but also how we eat. You learn proper table manners by eating together. For kids, it helps them eat well as they receive encouragements from others to finish their plate, chew their food correctly. Having people around you also ensures we have someone to warn us about eating ‘snacks’ before meals.
What has helped me in searching for God with renewed affections is the fellowship of believers. I have this fellowship where we open up about what’s eating us up. We confess to one another as instructed in James 5:16 pray together and study scriptures. Through this, we fun each other’s flame, reigniting fully any smouldering wick among us. Divine discontentedness starts with making sure we do not neglect the fellowship of brethren but encouraging one another all the more (Hebrews 10:25).
A famous Swahili proverb goes like this,” Mchovya asali hachovi mara moja” (He who dips his finger into honey does not dip it once). David invites us to taste and see how good God is in Psalm 34:8. Remember though, only those who have that insatiable need for a particular food eat it more frequently with Joy. Come, experience the Lord’s goodness and receive his infinite holiness and joy.