Sunday, September 30, 2007

Panting for God---our relationship and suffering and ministry

Larry Crabb writes (in the book that is mentioned in the post below), about a book called The Impact of God, by Iain Matthew--which speaks about a 16th century monk. Crabb talks about how this book has affected his life. Here are some of the things he says that I felt I have been learning also and that are worth thinking about:

"So often our relationship with God is not about knowing Him, but using Him. As a psychologist, I have felt for years that most of us in American Christianity use God to solve our problems. In contrast, John of the Cross used his problems to find God.'

"Whatever the problem might be, the most natural thing for a Christian to do is to go to the Bible and ask what biblical principle will help us straighten out our situation."

"When finding a biblical principle that will solve our problems becomes our number one priority, it is far less healthy than it may seem. What it really amounts to is using God to make our life on earth more pleasant. But that's not what God has promised. Hebrews 7:19 explains that keeping the law (doing everything right) to make life more pleasant has been replaced by a better hope. That is to say, there is much more to the life of a Christian than making life work.

"Trying to figure out a biblical approach to dealing with a problem is basically like coming to God and saying, 'All right, You're the Santa Clause; You're the emergency-room physician. I don't want to know You, I just want to use Your Resources."

"John of the Cross exemplified a very different approach to the spiritual journey........His basic thought was, "God, how do I get to know You? I'll pay any price for that!' Here was a man who lived it; he didn't just talk about it. He came to the conclusion that God can literally be experienced at a level of satisfaction that exceeds that of getting our lives straightened out..."

"God introduced the gospel in order to create a race of people who would proclaim to the world that knowing Him is more valuable than anything else. knowing God is the basis of our joy whether He gets us out of prison or leaves us there, keeps us from having cancer or lets us die from it, or keeps our kids off drugs or allows them to become serious addicts. Those things are important, but they're secondary. Primary is knowing Him, and that's the reason for the gospel. Our joy then develops a stability. God is always available though certain blessings may not be.'

"Matthew's book is so important because it presents a clear illustration of a man who lived his life, by no means perfectly, but with the hunger for knowing God dominant in his mind and soul. John of the Cross's life is an example of 'As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God' (Psalm 42:1), and 'One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD and to seek him in his temple' (Psalm 27:4). We modern Christians have changed it to, 'One thing I seek, that you would fix my life and tell me what to do so I can do it to make sure my marriage works.' Perhaps we have misunderstood the
Christian life and therefore read the Bible to glean only principles to make life work."

"When suffering comes, there is a price to pay if we are to discover joy. That price includes discipline and the decision to rest and remain faithful, repenting of all demands that life be different. This simply will not happen without the Spirit's speaking through His Word to quiet our hearts. If we maintain our fast-paced, get-in-quick little devotions in the morning, and quickly run off to church on Sunday morning, the likelihood of developing a deeply spiritual relationship with the Lord is about zero. We have to find time when we can look into our heart and discover that beneath our fast pace, beneath the business deals were closing and the money we make, beneath the good things we do, our hearts have deeper longings. And we will not do that without quietness, silence, and solitude......I am suggesting that you recognize the importance of solitude by scheduling time away. "

"When somebody spiritually directs me, I want that person to direct me not toward figuring out how to be a better husband or a better dad--that is all secondary, though it is important. I will not be a better husband or a better dad until I learn to enjoy God more. Otherwise, I would be doing it out of my own strength and in the energy of the flesh. Nothing transforms a person other than encounter with God"

So now one of the main ways he counsels--is to get people to draw near to God--become more intimate with God--not turning to God so God will do things for them, but to enjoy Him. ..and to address the idolatry we have of believing God is not the best thing going--but a solid marriage is or wonderful kids--he tries to deal with the core issue of idolatry in a depraved soul--and to encourage that we "would become consumed with knowing God for His glory and for our satisfaction rather than using God to make our lives more pleasant."

This explains how the persecuted Christians in China, India, Nigeria, etc are willing to linger and die in prison --it is because their intimacy with God is the preeminent thing in their lives.


  1. That sounds like a book I will have to buy. I feel bad sometimes when reading different books only because I don't read the Bible nearly as much as I should. I do feel that Christian books are inspiring and incourge me deeply.My husband and I are going on a retreat with our church this weekend the main topic is going to be about praying. I am looking forward to it.
    Oh about the climbing fig or ivy I do believe that it will do some damage, maybe thats why I have not planted any on my home yet. But then again if I want it on my home then I just wont take it off EVER! But I guess I should think about if I wanted to sell my home someday if that would make it harder to sell. We will more than likly have to sell our home when we retire.
    Have a blessed day

  2. That is so true! I have all of those weaknesses in my own life. I've known this for a long time. Every time I pray that God would help me know him, I have this little nervous voice inside of me thinking, "but please don't let it be a bad experience. i don't want to suffer." I'm always afraid to really truly mean it b/c I guess I do think that living life happily might be better than knowing God for real. I don't want God to rudely awaken me, but sometimes I think that is the only possibility in my complacency.

  3. so very true... we want to tell God our problem and what we think he should do about it... then we want to sit back and wait for Him to straighten everything out for us...
    when all we really should be doing it to Fully Rely On God !!!
    We can have Joy in the midst of sorrow and unhappiness...

    loved your post Nannykim

  4. This is so good. Thank you for sharing! I want to have a rich and full relationship with God and in order to do that I know I need to spend my mornings alone and quiet with Him.

    Thank you, Sharon

  5. Hi! I recently found your blog through another friend of mine's (sorry, can't remember who at the moment) and I love it! This post was so thought provoking...I'll have something to ponder for a while now. May God continue to stir your mind & heart.