Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Longing

On this Saturday morning when all is well there is still a part of me that longs for more satisfaction and joy.  I have health, a great family, a wonderful house, cars that aren’t in need of repair, a church family that I’ve always wanted to be a part of and yet there is still a lack of satisfaction in my heart.  But I think that even in describing all that I have, I have a discovered part of the problem.  Now I’m not saying that all of those things are bad…quite the opposite, all of those things are tremendous and are blessings from God.  But even in all of those things and all of those relationships, my mind and heart longs for more.  It’s not because those things are inherently bad, but because they were never meant to satisfy the longing of my heart.  All of these things and relationships will be crushed under the weight of trying to meet the longing of my heart.  Like the quote from Daniel 5.27 or maybe the more well-known quote from A Knights Tale if I keep my heart and mind focused even on the blessings that I’m given, I will be “weighed on the scales and found wanting.”  There will be a lack in me that constantly plagues me.  I think this is the longing that plagues many men’s hearts that is mislabeled as a mid-life crisis.  They begin looking at the things and even the people they have in their lives and ask the question, “Isn’t there more?” Unfortunately many men will look to other earthly things to fill that longing but will wake up after their attempts to find “it,” that the dissatisfaction is not only still there, but has grown even larger.  I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen to women (I believe it does), but I’m a guy and so I write from my perspective. 
There was a time in my life that I tried to fill that dissatisfaction with other things and it almost destroyed my marriage.  So this is not an issue that can be ignored. It is a universal condition that men and women deal with because and if not understood, it is highly likely that individual lives, marriages, and families will suffer the consequences of these misplaced affections. 
So what is one to do? At this point in my life, God has shown me through His Word that this longing in my heart, rather than being a bad thing that indicates a need for more stuff or relationships, is actually a drawing of my heart and mind to the One who can satisfy.  A few months ago I preached through the book of Colossians. Ever since that time, the words of Paul to the Colossians have resounded in my mind, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  You see, the problem with us when we begin to feel the longing for more in our hearts is that we have set our hearts and minds on earthly things to satisfy us.  This may have been conscious in some, but I feel that most of the time it happens unconsciously as we simply fail to intentionally set our hearts and minds on things above.  This longing should be a 5-alarm warning that we need to return to the One who can satisfy, Jesus Christ.  I don’t write this because I’m a pastor and this is what I’m supposed to say.  I write this because I’m a follower of Christ and have found that Scripture is true not only in theory but in practice.  So I encourage you, before the longing of your heart turns you to things that will leave you wanting, set your mind and heart on things above.  Sit down, remove distractions, and focus on Christ by reading the Word, listen to Christ-centered music, ask God to speak to you and bring the satisfaction (joy and happiness) for which your heart longs. This is not simply an exercise in religious ritual, but the building and development of a relationship with your Heavenly Father.  He wants to give you what you need as any good father would.  “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8.32.
So today as my heart is not satisfied with all of the things that I’ve been blessed with, I understand that this is the Holy Spirit drawing me to the heart of God. 

“As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.” Psalms 17.15

Friday, October 24, 2014

What's With the Name?

Why the name "Already Not Yet" for this blog?  Because that is the description of my life.  It's about the work that has already been accomplished for me in Christ (Already) but there is still much more to be accomplished in me as my life goes on (Not Yet).  When I started seminary back in 2002 I walked into class and began to experience overload.  There was so much information to consume and absorb that I would come home and tell Sherry (my wife) that the more I learned, the dumber I felt because there was so much more yet to learn.  At that time the "Already Not Yet" consisted of an intellectual understanding of scripture and ultimately who God is and who I am as a result of knowing God and His Word.  But now ten years removed from that first seminary experience I am continuing to gain an experiential understanding of the Already Not Yet as God is constantly transforming my heart.  The Spirit exposes things in me that I never knew were there and shows me my need of Him.  Recently the song that has been resonating in my heart is "Lord I Need You."  Whether it is for strength or joy or love or understanding there is only One Fountain that pours out the water that can quench the longing of my soul.

I'm sure this may seem like I'm out in the theological atmosphere to some people, but I assure you that there has never been anything that has been more practical in my life than learning how to rest in Christ on a daily basis is now.  Is it easy? Absolutely not.  Most days it's a struggle.  Some days I don't want to be in the struggle. But God is teaching me to embrace the struggle because it is in the midst of the struggle that God is transforming me into a usable jar of clay that can be filled and poured out for the glory of His name (not mine!)

So this blog will mostly be about the struggle as God transforms me in hopes that the transparency one finds here will be an encouragement to embrace the struggle in your own life and cling to the all-satisfying Savior. "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Cor 12.9).  So I invite you on my journey of faith to witness the works of God.  May God be glorified.