Ever grateful, never satisfied, relentlessly pursuing God for more of Himself, never taking offense. I’ve been looking at this motto in my last couple of blogs and today I want to look at this third section – relentlessly pursuing God for more of Himself. We can have as much of God as we want but no more than we are willing to pay the price for.
Sometimes I hear someone teach, “You can’t have more of God. You received the Holy Spirit when you trusted Christ. You received all you need and all you’ll ever get.” Hmm. Really? Look at the Scripture with me. Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13). But the context is ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. Jesus calls us to persist in the pursuit of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. Think about the apostles and how they applied this concept of Jesus. In John 20:22 Jesus breathes on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And the disciples received the Spirit. They now have a measure of the Spirit in their lives. But, there is more. In Acts 1:4-5, Jesus speaks to this same group of followers and says, “Wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The disciples likely didn’t know what to expect in this baptism of the Spirit that Jesus referred to. But they knew John’s baptism; when John baptized people he took them into the Jordan and completely immersed them in the water and they came up saturated, soaked, completely drenched. So they must have been expecting a soaking, drenching in the Spirit of some sort. The day of Pentecost comes and they get drenched.
But there is still more. After some dramatic results in preaching and healing, the apostles are threatened by the religious leaders. If they keep preaching about Jesus, they will be persecuted. It isn’t an idle threat – these are the people behind the crucifixion of Jesus. They feel the threat and they join together in prayer. But they don’t pray, “O God protect us” prayers. Instead they pray, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” This is precisely what got them into the trouble in the first place – being bold and doing miracles. But they ask for more of the same. And God answers.
He gives them more. Again. Acts 4:31, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” This same group who received the Spirit in John 20, and were filled with the Spirit in Acts 2, are filled again with the Spirit in Acts 4. There is more. There is always more of God to be experienced; He is infinite. You can never tap the endless resources of an infinite God.
I am ever grateful for whatever God gives – a gentle whisper, a sense of his peace, or a room-shaking outpouring. Ever grateful, but never satisfied because there is always more. Thus, relentlessly pursuing Him for more of Himself.
When I pursue God for more – I come after more of Him, not his benefits. I come after God for his face. Not his hands. I pursue his presence, not his gifts. When there is an increase in his presence in our lives, there is an increase in the manifestations of the Kingdom because wherever Jesus is present, the Kingdom comes.
I got to a point in ministry where I was having “success” and seeing fruit. But it wasn’t satisfying. I wanted something different. Something more. I just wanted more of his presence, more of his love, more of his voice, more of him in my life. I studied Moses and noticed this key idea that Moses pursues the face of God. Intimacy. So, I started to pursue God for his face, not his hands. I realized that most of my prayers sounded like “God give me” prayers. God give me this. God fix that problem; God heal this one; God provide that. I was constantly seeking his hands but not his face. So I knew I needed to seek his face. I tried with words, but words weren’t doing it for me. And finally I stumbled into silence. I would just sit before the Lord and give him my full attention. We so seldom give God our full attention. We so often bring our distracted presence to Him. But I was just seeking to bring my full attention to Him. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t pray anything. I wasn’t trying to do anything. I was just being with Him. I noticed that often when I would sit in his presence I would cry. I could feel his presence and at the same time I was longing for his presence. The longing was so deep I was moved to tears. I didn’t really know what that was, so I went to the monastery one day and asked one of the monks. All they do is pray, I figured they might know. I said to Father Robert, “Have you ever been sitting in silence before the Lord and you could feel his presence but you longed for his presence so much it moved you to tears?” He said, “Oh yes.” I asked, “What is that?” He stated simply, “You are longing for heaven so you can see him face to face.” That was it. I was seeking his face, and it had stirred longing in my soul. It was homesickness. I was pursuing his face and he was making me feel homesick for the time when I would see him face to face. Ever grateful. Never satisfied. Relentlessly pursuing Him for more of Himself.