44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
(Matthew 13:44-46 NIV)
I am reminded this morning of the enormity of God’s goodness, and the smallness of my earthly affections. Do you ever feel the same way?
I often find myself blissfully happy with the equivalent of drawing stick figures on the driveway using sidewalk chalk, and fail to recognize the Creator of the universe paints His love across the sky in an ever-changing canvas throughout each day and night. My feeble attempts to find fulfillment and joy are short, and all is lost to the dew of the night and the rain of the day as the chalk colors merge to gray and trickle down to the street gutter and eventually the storm drain.
C.S. Lewis expressed this same idea well:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too 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.”
(from The Weight of Glory)
Why do we give our hearts away so quickly? We have a deep inner longing that we try to fulfill, and we often stop when we find something that quenches that inner longing, even if it only does so temporarily.
But yet, our deepest inner thirst is not satisfied. Only the Lord can quench our deepest desires. When we finally find that deep affection in the Lord, we will take no prisoners, and risk everything to be in that abiding walk with Him.
Listen to how the author of Hebrews expresses this same reaction:
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV, emphasis mine)
The Puritan preacher Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) called this all-consuming desire to walk with the Lord “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”. Chalmers said that we cannot simply try to quit our worldly pursuits as our primary objective – those attempts to stop sinning will fail every time. Chalmers said that we must see our joy and fulfillment by the Lord as so much greater than anything we have previously experienced, such that we willingly and forcefully exchange anything and everything in pursuit of our heart’s deepest desire.
Does this mean that all of us should quit our jobs and sign on to be missionaries in “the remotest parts of the earth”? No, not necessarily. It simply means that we put God first in our lives, and keep Him there, not allowing any other affections to take His place. Our pursuit of the Lord must come first, everything else is second.
Listen to Jesus’ words about our priorities and heart pursuits:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 NIV, emphasis mine)
Earnestly seeking Him,