I decided to see what Wayne at the JollyBlogger had posted recently since I haven’t been over to his blog in some time. Wayne’s most recent article is an excerpt from the book “The Theology of the Cross” by Daniel M. Deutschlander. Even though Wayne in his post is asking what the litmus test for the Christian church should be I couldn’t help but think how amazing God is in his providential timing, and how this monumental question wove into the continuing discussion that my friend and I have been having about the pain of our sin and our desire to “feel” Gods presence in our lives.
From my friends email:
I long for a “feeling” of God.
…the hope that somehow I would “feel” God’s presence or I would experience some existential ecstasy in God that would knock my socks off in a way that (my sin) doesn’t.
Unfortunately I too echo in this desire. But don’t we all? Don’t we all desire to have God as real to us as the tree outside my window. But alas that is not how it is, or how God intended it to be. For this is where we are called to rely on faith. But oh, how it pains me to realize just how little of that I truly have. And what is the barrier to my faith? Is it my heady knowledge of scientific things that makes my mind demand for empirical evidence of Gods existence? Those who know me are now rolling on the floor in fits of laughter for “heady knowledge” is the least of my problems. No I read what my friend wrote and then I read what Wayne wrote in his article and I realize that the largest stumbling block to my faith is my desire for my own personal pleasure.
My friend added in his email:
the goal is to glorify God and my own existential experience of that be damned…it’s time for me to give up the hope of worldly, fleshly, even internal pleasure and pursue Christ for His glory and allow that pursuit to take me where it will.
And here is a part from Wayne’s post that caught my eye and brought me back to thinking of my friends email.
All of that seems so, well, so un-American. We pursue pleasure, and for every pain there should be an instant remedy… We shun any notion that we live in a veil of tears… We think that anyone who is in physical or spiritual pain must be sick and in need of therapy that will make him happy again—and soon!
And there it is, my stumbling block, the boulder that blocks not only my path but my view of what true pleasure can and is in Christ. I want to be happy. I want to feel good. I want what I want and I want it now! I’m no better than that brat Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka
The problem with that is that what I want isn’t what I should want. And if I knew what I could have I’d never be asking for it in the first place.
CS Lewis put it most succinctly when he said,
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too more weak. 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.
I’m a 3 year old who’s been offered an everlasting trip to Disney World but I’m much happier playing in my cardboard box. So what am I to do?
From Wayne’s post:
At the same time, the Bible tells us that in the midst of suffering and under the cross, we should rejoice. Yes, it tells us to rejoice constantly and precisely because we are suffering under the weight of the cross that crushes and threatens to destroy us. It assures us again and again that those who rejoice without the cross and those who suffer without joy understand neither true joy nor the value of the cross that God has sent.
What my friend ended his email with:
To be given the grace to “deny myself and take up my cross daily” is my current request.
And it’s with that last comment that I see between the Jollybloggers post and my friends email God’s providential timing in all things. For it is back to the Cross of Christ that I must go and go I must, with joyful abandon of all earthly pleasures knowing that Heaven awaits me if I’ll just get out of my mud puddle.