For several weeks I have been questioning my own heart. Am I longing for Christ to return because my circumstances are tough at times? If my circumstances suddenly changed and things were better, would my eyes still look up as often as they do now?
Am I praising God and telling others “God is good” because of all that He gives me? Is God good because he gives me things? Would I find Him just as good if all the things He has given me were suddenly taken away?
Do I truly love God? Why do I love Him? Searching questions for the heart. Questions I have been pondering in my own heart.
On one particular Sunday morning I went to worship God but my heart wasn’t really in it. It has been some time since this happened but I can vividly recall what I was thinking. My thoughts were more on wishing my life was different rather than on the Great I Am. I admit it. I wanted God to fix things in my life first, then I could be free to fully worship Him. I know that is an awful admission. But God knows that is what was in my heart that day.
As I listened to the sermon, my mind slowly moved from wishing God would fix things to realizing I did not truly love God the way I should– at least not at that time. The preacher spoke of the Great Shepherd Who went searching for the one lost sheep, and of the great God He Is. He pointed out that Christ is the greatest treasure and ultimate satisfaction. As the sermon continued, my heart faced the truth that I was not satisfied with God alone. I wanted God plus a different set of circumstances. Ever been there? Are you there now? I could say God was everything to me but it wasn’t true. God was not everything to me…not at that time. I could claim that to have God was all one needed but it wasn’t being lived out in my heart. I cried out to God for forgiveness, and my heart found peace in Him alone…again.
My children are no longer little so they do not need me as they once did. I have been in a marriage that has been filled with so much pain through the years, and now I am caring for my husband who cannot communicate or care for himself,and whose condition does not allow me much freedom. It makes friendships difficult I am lonely at times. Yet, God is there– His constant abiding care and presence. I see it in so many ways. I know it is true because He promised to always be with His children, and He cannot lie.
Did you catch it? Wanting God plus something else –it is there — still lurking beneath the surface of my heart. It was there that Sunday morning. I saw it. I thought I conquered it. But it was not a total surrender of the desire for God plus something else.
Now someone will say that it is not wrong to desire different circumstances in life, that if your loved one has cancer or some other illness or problem you will certainly desire for that to change. I understand. I agree. I am not saying it is wrong to desire different circumstances. It can be…if you are desiring it from selfish motives as I was, thinking only of my own loneliness or if you need your circumstances to change before you can be satisfied in God. One may be fully satisfied with God and still want circumstances to change but one cannot want circumstances to change before they are fully satisfied with God. In other words, am I fully satisfied with God if my circumstances never change? When I can say “yes”, He is truly everything to me.
So, what is all of this about? What am I trying to communicate to you? Only that I am still fighting with these desires? No. I write this to offer hope that you and I can overcome our desire for God plus something else and find complete satisfaction in Him. There is a psalm that I have been studying for some time now that has helped me to see how to end this struggle…no, not once for all. But I know I can put this psalm into practice any time I find that I am not fully satisfied with God alone.
The psalm is Psalm 131. It is only three verses long but oh, the message in those three verses.
“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 131)
Notice the flow of the psalm It begins with the psalmist stating that he does not occupy himself with things too great for him. The idea here is one of contentment. He trusts the LORD. He turns his heart to the LORD. He has”calmed and quieted” his soul like “a weaned child with its mother.” It is important to realize that the psalmist quieted his own soul. It is within our power to quiet our own hearts. But the power to do so is due to the source of the psalmist’s contentment. He constantly turned his heart to his God. The psalmist paints a beautiful picture of a small child in his mother’s arms — perfectly content just to be there. A nursing baby is not always content to simply be held but a weaned child is very content in his mother’s arms, seeking nothing but the closeness of his mother. That is exactly what the psalmist finds in God — seeking only to be near God brings a calm and quiet heart of contentment which leads to the note of hope with which the psalmist ends his song.
So, how to put this into practice? I have found that when I am not content, when I am feeling burdened, lonely, confused or uncertain that if I turn my heart to the LORD and focus my mind on the LORD — upon His Greatness and His nearness–I can rest in Him the way a small child rests in his mother’s arms. A peace will begin to settle over my heart. It takes some effort to focus solely upon Him. It helps to be alone with the LORD in prayer and in His Word, but I have practiced this at times when it was not possible to be alone with the LORD. Some days I find I must run to Him often and quiet my soul with the knowledge of His love. It is a circle. We go to Him to quiet our souls and we find, “….he will quiet you by his love..” (Zephaniah 3:17)
We have the power to quiet our souls by going to Him as a small child seeking nothing but His nearness. We will find that He quiets us with His love in the same way a small child is quieted by the love of his mother.
Seek the LORD as a weaned child seeks his mother, wanting nothing but to be held in His love. The heart will find a quiet calm of contentment, and a hope that keeps one moving forward.
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” (Psalm 62:5)