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Radical Leaps of Faith Likewise, as we make radical leaps of faith, our most appealing cry to God's ears may be the "yes!" that breaks through our unbelief: "God, I do believe, even though I am not yet entirely convinced. Please help me overcome my stronghold of doubt!" The preceding story is one of the great parables illustrating the "yes" God desires to hear from us. Despite our unbelief, God is inspired when we make a radical leap of faith, crying out, "Yes, God, I believe, although not all of me is convinced!" God knows that we have a "no" in our heart; He is fully aware of our doubt and unbelief. Even so, we inspire His intervention when we adopt the humble cry of desperation: "Lord, I do believe;
help my unbelief!" 76 THE THRONE ROOM COMPANY God is not expecting us to be perfect in our nature. He only requires us to have the humility to acknowledge that we are weak outside of Him and that we cannot overcome our strongholds without His help. This attitude is what qualifies us before God's throne—a "yes" that is larger than our "no." It is not always a "yes" instead of a "no," but it is when the "yes" of our heart dominates our very being despite our "no." This kind of love inspires the heart of God.
Satan and humanity will suggest or imply that we need to do a million things in order to qualify for God's love. Playing on our doubt and unbelief that God could truly love us with an everlasting love, Satan blinds us with condemnation and shame.
He counterfeits God's inspiration and substitutes immediate gratification. He conspires with our wicked desires.
Even as the "yes" to God's invitation pounds in our heart, our fallen nature somehow resists this great desire for God.
Temptations and Dilemmas Why does God allow such temptation to bombard our minds and distract us? Perhaps it is so we can build up a strong resistance to carnality. Or so He can clearly demonstrate how His strength counteracts our weakness. Or perhaps God realizes that after we fall, we will experience His strength and thus, cry out for His help again.
King David's life demonstrates how, despite great brokenness and poor choices, we can always return to God.
David cultivated a deep love for God, mixed with humility,
which is beautifully reflected in this psalm:
David's one desire was to be in union with the Lord throughout his life; he longed to gaze upon God's beauty and to be completely fulfilled by what he saw. David's passion inspired the heart of God, causing Him to move on David's behalf. Why?
Because David was not focused on his lesser desires and an earthly destiny. His sole longing was for God.
Many of us face a divine dilemma, which the enemy constantly tries to use to his advantage: We have a "yes" in our heart, but there always seems to be a part of our fallen nature that resists the great desire for God.
Satan magnifies our unbelief within our hearts. He wants to inspire wicked desires within us that agree with our carnal "no."
He continually tries to counterfeit God's inspiration by offering immediate gratification on earth, in place of what God is offering in Heaven.
Thankfully because of the grace God extends to us, Satan is not powerful enough to disqualify us. Nevertheless, he knows we can disqualify ourselves. So his mission is to strengthen our unbelief by presenting opportunities that tempt us to give ourselves over to our wicked desires.
One of the principles confusing many believers is that God allows us to experience this process of temptation and distraction. He does this so that we can build up resistance to our carnal nature, which asks us to choose ourselves instead of Him.
God allows this failure, knowing that He is the answer to our very weakness. Therefore if we taste God's strength and then fall in our weakness, we will cry out for His strength again. David did this so many times, appealing to the merciful nature of God.
The Choice to Love Jesus makes the choice clear, but He gives us the freedom to make it. The enemy tries to use our failures to reinforce our shame, but God uses our failures to draw us to Himself.
David inspired God's heart, because he knew the only thing that qualified him before God was his willing heart. How could a 78 THE THRONE ROOM COMPANY man like David, who had lied, fornicated, cheated, and murdered, be considered a man after God's own heart? It was his heart, not his performance. Despite his brokenness, David constantly came back to the "yes" that was in his heart. He overcame in much the same way that God invited the churches of Revelation to overcome.
How can we transform our bent toward worldliness? For many years, Mike Bickle has been a voice crying in the wilderness, offering hope to those bound in shame. He has expressed this hope in his messages drawn from a passage in the Song of Songs 1:5, "I am dark, but I am lovely!" The cry of the Shulamite woman, who was a laborer in the fields, came from a desperate soul who saw nothing in herself that would draw the esteem of King Solomon. Yet he loved her.
When she experienced the intensity of his love, she concluded, "Even though my skin is darkened, and I may appear worthless to others, Solomon loves me! He looks at me and sees a woman who is beautiful and worthy of his affection!" The Shulamite woman had a revelation of what it truly means to be loved. She was empowered by Solomon's love for her, embracing the loveliness he saw in her. Thus she could grow secure in his love.
Even as a "yes" resonates in our hearts, we may be conveying to God: "I am not worthy. I am not like you. My heart is dark and shameful." Yet God's burning desire to commune with us captures our hearts so intensely that we can say, "Even though I am dark, I am lovely in your eyes!" God's love is our qualifier.
AFTER HIS RESURRECTION, JESUS APPEARED TO THEdisciples (Luke 24). Distraught by His absence, they were finally in a place where He could give them understanding, since they were so full of joy because everything He had said to them had proven true! They were caught off guard by all the Old Testament prophecies their beloved Friend had fulfilled.
Their passion for Him fed His hunger! I am going to infer even a greater meaning in His hunger. Jesus was not hungry for nourishment. He was actually communicating to the disciples that they could now feed His hunger. They had passed from desperation into true love for Him. Jesus took the food they offered and ate it.
Previously the disciples had been unable to comprehend the Scriptures about His crucifixion and resurrection. Then Jesus opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures regarding Himself. Jesus was then able to interpret those teachings in light of His destiny and how the Scriptures were fulfilled.
Feeding God's Hunger Jesus longs to share who He is with us in a mature way so that we can partner with Him as a wife to a husband. Do you want to feed God's hunger with your passion?
When His love is first awakened in us, Jesus draws us through various stages. The first stage is one of "first love," introducing us to God's awesomeness. The second stage is one of "fiery love," expressing a strength that makes us feel as though we can conquer the world. The third stage is one of "covenant love," involving His sweet communion. And the fourth stage is one of "desperate love," where we are longing for His presence.
Most Christians miss the opportunity to enter into the fullness of God's love, although He stokes this desperate love within us on more than one occasion. At times, we may even fear that we have disqualified ourselves from such love!
It is hard for most people to allow themselves to experience the exquisite pain that comes with the depths of desperate love.
Jesus allows our pain to exceed the level we imagined we could 82 THE THRONE ROOM COMPANY handle. He strips away every unnecessary thing—and person— that might provide us comfort. We become absolutely lonely to experience Jesus. Then He begins to stir up within our heart the desire to be one with Him just as He is one with the Father.
Distracted by a Lesser Love If a person's identity is wrapped up in worldly pursuits (even noble ones), it will be easy to give in to a lesser love than God.
Compromise occurs when we substitute God's offer with a less satisfying earthly role, lifestyle, or relationship.
How this longing for God is fulfilled can be illustrated by looking at young people. When love awakens in them, often a desperation ensues. Instead of pressing with hearts, minds, and souls toward God, teenagers in church begin to look for a human "counterpart." Turning their eyes from God, they seek a mate.
Often when God is ready to awaken a full and intense love for Himself, the Church culture suggests marriage as the highest calling. This, though, is a counterfeit for a higher, more fulfilling love. If, during this season, young people begin to substitute a person for God, it can be spiritually costly. If they have not resolved their identity issues before God, this love is twice as difficult to express later, when their lives are filled with responsibility toward a mate and family.
Christianity is unique in its focus on humanity's relationship with God. Teachers of Islam often encourage young men to be martyred, believing they will garner a harem of virgins for eternity. Mormons believe that each adherent and spouse will inherit a whole world to populate. The New Age offers humanity the opportunity to merge into a universal consciousness or energy as their eternal reward.
From the days that God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God has desired that humanity find delight in communion with Him. So I wonder why we encourage Christians to form lasting human ties so quickly?
Fueled by a Desperate Love THE LONGING FULFILLED 83 Modern Church thinkers may look on early Christian writers— some considered saints by the Catholic Church—as eccentric or mystical. Their poetic language conveys a longing for God that most people with an analytical mindset do not understand.
However, it would be helpful to examine the lives of these saints, who wholly engaged themselves in their pursuit in God, and often paid a high price—martyrdom—for their faith. Dying as martyrs was their final expression of true love.
St. John of the Cross was one such Church father known for a passionate pursuit of God. He was so devoted to God that he declared, "Your love has wounded me!" To move forward in our relationship with God, I believe we have to experience such passion. We will never fully unite with Jesus unless we face the same disillusionment process as the disciples—one of longing and disappointment in this world.
Sometimes experiencing this kind of passion can be allconsuming and overwhelming. Much of the Western Church discourages people from being sensitive to these realities, because they are afraid of the imbalance such awareness creates.
I believe we have to experience such emotions, even if they may seem extreme. In this way, we can find our balance by His affections. If believers who profess love for God have never been through this inward longing, their love probably has not progressed very much. Such a statement will threaten those religious leaders who understand the politics of worldly systems but who do not know how to experience the depths of Christ.
Modern Christianity often misleads its own disciples, suggesting that once we give ourselves to Jesus, we will never again long for anything. Life will be complete, with no more heartache. However, this is not true.
Our passion and desperation for God occurs not once, but repeatedly and cyclically, as God continually turns our gaze toward eternity. The more our affections belong to God, the less
satisfied we are with Earth; we begin to feel as Paul describes:
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our 84 THE THRONE ROOM COMPANY
Paul is not describing an intellectual appeal. Rather, such longing is designed to lead our hearts in pursuit of eternity. This wasn't just a clever idea; it was Paul's life-pursuit. Regardless of difficulties and hardships, Paul would not compromise the very thing he desired most—being in Heaven.
The more we open ourselves to the kind of longing and desperation Paul had for the eternal, the more understanding Jesus will give us. While we will never understand the mind of God, we will find His blessings when we believe and pursue what we cannot even imagine seeing!
In Lovesick Pursuit We are never qualified by a ministry position or a particular spiritual gift. Instead we are qualified by our pursuit of God's loving fellowship. The beloved apostle John tried to express this
when he wrote:
fact, it is impossible truly to love others first and then carry out God's commands. It would be like trying to sail without a ship.
The ship must come first; then you have something to sail.
John was fully devoted to sacrificing everything in order to please God, who was his best Friend. Fulfillment of the second commandment—loving others—comes from an overflow of our devotion to God. As we do this, our hearts become opened to a supernatural virtue: to love in a way that is uncommon on Earth.
"I have food that you know not of," said Jesus to His friends when they became worried that He was not eating with them. As we learn to feed on His presence, we discover a love that will truly unite hearts, feeding the soul's frenzy within. In this way, we can begin to say “I have food that you know not of” just as Jesus told His friends when they expressed concern that He was not eating with them.
When our primary sustenance is communion with God, we will finally say, "I cannot be satisfied with anything earthly. My desire reaches beyond this world into communion with God— and into obedience to His plan for the Son."
If our longing is for Him, then we will be fulfilled. In communion, we will all eat from the Tree of Life. But if we hope in promises for ministry or for gain, the perfect mate or the perfect church, then our hopes will be deferred. These things are lesser hopes.
As it is written in Proverbs 13:12: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."