Sometimes I run into a thought that just fits. It is necessary, it is salient, and it doesn’t need to be improved upon. Such was the case when I read today’s passage in My Utmost for His Highest, which is generally full of such passages by the way, and it just made a good deal of sense to share it. I am not sure if you have ever felt this, but if you exist in this world and have a pulse, you probably have. That is, an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. There are times where I am frantically running around and the only reason I don’t feel exhausted, is because I haven’t had time to sit and think about it. Life is hectic. This is a problem. It is a problem not because life is hectic. The problem is that it is so often hectic with things that don’t really matter. Oswald Chambers speaks of the same thing in this way;
“The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing… An active Christian worker too often lives in the shop window. It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of the life.”[i]
Chamber underscores the tension that we have from the demands of the world. Not only does he point to the regular demands of the world, but even to the demands that we put on ourselves as Christians. The demands of others, the world, and of ourselves, pull us and prods us and steal away our time. They endlessly make demands of us. The only demand that life never makes of us, is that is never demands time with God. So often, the struggling Christian’s mantra is “I just never seem to find time” or “I am just too exhausted”. This is a universal fact of human existence. The world will never require us to invest in our spiritual lives. Life will never prod us towards devotion. Our schedules will never naturally facilitate spiritual reflection. It will never demand it, but we must. We must make our own spiritual demands of us. We must prod ourselves to make spiritual investments, or, at the moment that all else is gone and we enter the gates of heaven, we will realize the bankruptcy of the insignificant things that we so naturally fill our life with.
Our relationship with Christ is an altogether different value system than that of the world. As Chambers says it, “The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men.” A life focused on Christ, is just that. It is focused on Christ. The world selfishly demands our attention to itself. It holds our attention and fills our life with insignificant things to the point that we feel full, exhausted, and stretched. John Piper says it well in A Hunger for God.
“If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”[ii]
The world makes our lives feel full. A pursuit of the glory of God through our relationship with Christ makes us satisfied. There is an immense difference between these two. The former exhausts us and makes us think that we must settle because there is nothing left of us at the end of the day. The latter satisfies us to the extent that we will experience a joy of the absence longing which transcends circumstance. We can be preoccupied with the business of our lives, or we can be satisfied with the fullness of Christ. In order for the latter, it is necessary for us to pursue intentionally our relationship with Christ.
Don’t be distracted by the kingdom of this world, with its many diversions. Find satisfaction in deepening your relationship with Christ. Force yourself, twist your arm, and demand with rigid castigation that you must seek after Christ in your daily life. If you do so, then when you enter the gates of heaven you will find no spiritual impoverishment. No such thing exists in the life invested in Christ.
[i] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
[ii] Piper, John. A Hunger For God. Wheaton: Crossway, 1997. Print.