Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ask Me what you will

A couple nights ago, after 11pm, SK called me.  She's on the worship team for the student-led worship at Whitworth University, and it had been a surprisingly emotional night for her.  As one student prayed, SK began to cry.  Her tears came because she was struck with the realization that Jesus had died for her--for HER--and she couldn't even relinquish control of her life to Him.  The truth of His sacrifice and her ungratefulness, her inability to focus on Him hit her squarely between the eyes.  It was a brand new experience, to be so overwhelmed by His great gift to her, to feel His presence in this way. And it shook her a little that she would cry so hard (and still be wiping her nose on her sleeve when she had to get up and sing the closing choruses).  So she called me.

And I was actually thrilled about her experience.  I've sat where she did that night.  For an entire year, a couple of years ago, every time I heard the name of Jesus in a worship service, tears sprang to my eyes.  There is something about His name, I came to see. It was both beautiful and slightly unnerving to experience that. And I think most of the time, a supernatural sense of Him comes with tears.  I don't exactly know why this is--maybe because an awareness of His presence also leads us to sense our own sinfulness. But for that whole year, I lived in the presence of God in a new way, was more focused on Him, more aware of Him than I'd been before or have been since.  It was a grace--a gift. And I think, in SK's tears, there was an implied question--"How much do you want me? Ask me what you will, and I will do it..."

The truth is, such moments--such favor from Him--don't seem to last and not because He changes. Life gets in the way.  Shoot, I get in the way, more often than not.  But I hunger for that kind of living with Him, that awareness of Him.

Last night, while reading Brother Lawrence, the profound monk from the 17th century who wrote The Practice of the Presence of God, I was struck again by his simple desire--to always concentrate on God's presence in His life and to "drive away from [his] mind everything that was capable of interrupting [his] thought of God." Just that, no more and no less.  No matter what he did, he was also constantly in conversation with the Lord.  Washing dishes in the abbey's kitchen--do so with God.  Cutting vegetables for soup? Ask God to be real in the chopping.  No task was too menial for Brother Lawrence because, for him, everything had the scent of God, was a chance to glorify Him.
This was his desire, his sole aim: "To become wholly God's... to give my all for God's all."

It got me to thinking about what I want most from God.  One way or another, I believe God asks each one of us this question: "What do you want me to do for you?"  Of course, He's already done everything, when you think about it.  Our salvation at the cost of Jesus' life is the only real thing, isn't it?  What else is there? If He never did anything else for you, what He did on the cross is enough--as I think SK realized for at least a moment the other night (this we have to learn again and again).  Yet, I think He wants to do more for us, just as we long to do for our beloved children.  So I got to thinking about what I'd say if He asked me.  The truth is, not once but several times in the course of my life with Christ, I've felt the whispered question, "What do you desire? Ask me what you will, and I will do it."  God asked Solomon this, and Solomon asked Him for wisdom with which to judge the people. 

What I want is what Lawrence had.  In Exodus 33, Moses has a conversation with a heavenly being; his words are the cry of my heart, "If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you...If Your presence doesn't go with us, do not send us up from here." And this is also my desire: If His presence doesn't go with me, I don't want to go.  I don't want to get out of this chair, take a step into my day.  I want to know Him--simply to know Him more and more and more.  Everything else--or nothing else!--comes after that, and is His pleasure to give.  Does this make sense?

Like a verse in my favorite hymn "Be thou my vision"--
"Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise;
 Thou mine inheritance, now and always.
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art."

So what do you want from Him?  What is the deep desire of your heart? Think about it--He wants to give to you.

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