4. Desire and Thirst
Jesus wants His bride with a wanting that is not possible for us to imagine.
What do you want?
4. Desire and Thirst
God speaks to us through story.
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:1-3
When God said, “Let there be light,” this first word from God is Jesus, issuing forth from His Father, the expression of eternal reality making its immediate entrance at the opening of recorded time.
I have magnified My word above all My name. Psalm 138:2
Nothing in all of God’s nature is as important to Him as His word, not His character, not His holiness, not even His love. God exalts His word above every aspect of His nature. God’s word is Jesus. God binds Himself to His word, regarding His word above even His own will.
God does not say one thing and do another; He does not lie. He holds Himself subject to His word.
Yet, in His word, God makes extraordinary claims, claims that have not yet been demonstrated to the universe. Furthermore God abhors control; He will not force or manipulate in order to guarantee that His word comes to pass. God’s word is entirely on its own, to succeed or fail on its own merits. To strike at God, Satan avoided His power, His wisdom, and His throne and struck at the one place that to him seemed vulnerable, the word God speaks, “Did God indeed say?”
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11
Let’s look more closely at the character and nature of God Himself. Heart is the center of life. It is the source of all things. God is love means God is heart, which means God is DESIRE.
God is desire: reckless, unmasked, wild, and passionate desire. Jesus was just as reckless. “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame.”
Jesus wants His bride with a wanting that is not possible for us to imagine.
The heart’s longing for intimacy and the male desire for a woman is a pale and dim shadow of the immense desire Jesus has for His bride. Jesus said, “I DESIRE that these whom You have given Me be with Me where I AM.”
Nevertheless, the act of love is not an end in itself. When the act of love is consummated, it feels sweet in the hearts of the entwined lovers, but it is not over. For there, deep inside the womb of the woman, a tiny, unseeable, irreversible spark takes place, and step by step, with astonishing wonder, a new life forms inside of her.
The purpose of love is life and the purpose of life is to reproduce life. Just look at the incredible capacity for the reproduction of life written by God into every fabric of His creation!
By His very nature, God loves, and His love creates a lover. He must draw that lover into Himself. And by His very nature, He must reproduce Himself in a never ending springing forth of life. Life must birth life, it can do nothing else.
And so paradox fills the nature of God and it fills all the truth of God. We could say God does not need us, that He is fully sufficient in Himself and we can add nothing to Him. YET, in truth, God greatly desires us and cannot restrain Himself from His eternal need to reproduce His own life through us.
God does not “need” me, so I think, yet I am seized in the unbreakable grip of His passionate desire for me. Because God is, therefore I am. I am not an afterthought with God. I am the object of the passion filling His heart. We have always filled the heart of God.
Take the desire for intimacy that a man feels for a woman and a woman for a man, multiply that desire by ten billion times ten billion times ten billion, let that same desire fill the entire universe so that if all the galaxies exploded instantaneously with all the power within them — yet that mighty explosion would be but a dim expression of the infinite, eternal Passion and Desire for me that IS this One who has asked me to call Him Father and Beloved and Mine.
This thought would, of course, be rather scary, if we were not certain that this untamed Desire is also Good. On the other hand, though we rest absolutely in the certainty that God is good, we stand in trepidation when we consider the awesomeness of His Desire. The most fearful aspect of God is that He is love.
Agape, the love of God, we have been told, is love that desires nothing for itself, but wants only the well-being of the one loved. This may be true, but as with everything in God it’s counterpoint is also true. For Agape, the Love of God is also jealousy, all-consuming desire – a Fire Who wants and will have what He wants and will allow no other to touch what He wants for Himself.
God says that He will share His glory with no other; and He says that we are His glory. I am the glory of God.
“Awaken Desire,” said the Shulamite in the Song of Songs. Do we dare to do the same?
For many years, I lived under a view of God as one who stands at arm’s length, who loves us for the purpose of testing us to see whether we will respond to His love by obedience or not. We now know that God is at arm’s length only to one whose own heart is not touched by His.
What does “I never knew you” mean? I do not want to know, nor place such horror on anyone.
The opposite is to know Him. What does this mean? How can we know God? How can we know unbridled, passionate, wild Desire?
Finally, we must look at an inconceivable element in the purpose of God. Does God need an enemy?
Try to think of a story without an opponent of some sort – without a conflict. If there is no conflict, there is no story. Conflict can be inanimate – as a storm or a fire, or it can be personal. Most often, conflict in a story is personal. How is it that God’s story, coming from an all-sufficient Being, requires not just any opponent, but the ultimate opponent? What can darkness do for light? How can disharmony enhance harmony? Why does God place an enemy, not only at the beginning of His story, but at its very heart?
The fact is, there he is, and it is not possible for Satan’s presence in God’s story to be an accident or separate from God’s purpose. I certainly do not have a full explanation, but let us grapple with this devastatingly awful aspect of the great story of God. For we are certainly not dealing with something far away out there, some ethereal, intellectual proposition. The enemy in God’s story has made our lives miserable from the day we were born. He hits us below the belt; he stabs from behind. He gets us at our weakest moment and in our worst position. No one fights more dirty than he, and our lives are one unending scar from his wickedness and hatred.
What is he doing here? As glorious as paradise was, as much as we were made for Paradise and Paradise for us, Satan was there first. God alone allowed him there. And not only did Satan and his hordes of darkness fill Paradise when Adam stepped into it, but God Himself created the doorway through which Satan and Adam could meet – a link from Satan through the tree of knowledge, formed by God out of the same earth from which He also formed Adam’s body – through the woman, formed by God out of Adam – to Adam. What is going on here?
The answer is not that God was “testing” Adam. The answer, rather, is found in the revelation of the passion and desire that fills the heart of God. The answer is found only in story.
You see, we must understand that Satan’s first words, though spoken into Eve’s ears, were not directed towards Adam and Eve, but towards Christ, towards the most precious thing God holds inside Himself - His Word.
“Did God really say that?”
God did not set the enemy into His own story against Adam, but against Christ, against the Word God is always speaking.
What do you want?
Are you satisfied with where life has brought you? I don’t mean reasonably content, I mean fully satisfied in every way you presently experience life?
Some people avoid this question. To some, it is too dangerous to view.
Do you know that you know that you know that your present Christian experience is all there is of God for you right now? Or do you attend the church you do Sunday after Sunday because it feels safe?
These are not small questions. Our eternal destiny flows out of what we do with them.
We live in a world that is choosing safety instead of freedom because freedom is too scary to think about. But they are seeking safety from a source other than God. And God, as we know, is anything but safe.
We attend churches that seek in every way to “play it safe.”
Nothing radical. Nothing out of bounds.
Nothing that will disturb the tranquillity.
Nothing that will require more than a couple of hours a week.
Nothing that will make people late for Sunday dinner, or, God forbid, miss the Sunday football games.
And then there is Thirst. Thirst is a gift from God. Thirst – a deep, wordless cry for something more than we know.
But thirst is dangerous, very dangerous. Because of thirst, people have sold everything they owned and given it away. Because of thirst, people have left their homes and families to follow Christ.
Because of thirst, people have sat on backless benches through hours and days of preaching, soaking up the anointed word of God. Because of thirst, people have worshipped and sang and cast down their enemies for eight, twelve, sixteen hours at a stretch, until they were free. I know; I have been there.
Because of thirst, people have been thrown to lions, burned at the stake, and gunned down in a hail of bullets. Because of thirst, people have been sawed in two, crucified upside down, and wandered homeless through this world.
They did these crazy things because they let some crazy preacher convince them that the deep agonizing longing stirred up by that question Jesus went around asking – “What do you want?” – was more important than life itself.
Then there are the safe ones. Those who will not allow dissatisfaction to be front and center in their lives. Those who take every one of the questions I asked at the beginning of this letter and keep them locked up around the outside of their lives. I trust you are not one of those.
We are at the end of an age dying as it is swallowed up in the glorious birthing of the age to come. As God brings this whole age of human folly and Christian limitation to a stunning conclusion, He is offering to us, His people, the gift that we need, now!
Thirst that is not and cannot be satisfied with the lesser answers, the partial fixes, that the safe church offers.
There are those who have known the mighty moving of God in the past. They may have at one time sold everything and followed Christ.
That is all in the past.
Today, right now, a dividing line is separating the church of God, separating fellowships, separating moves of God. Not on the basis of right doctrine, not even on the basis of right living.
But on the basis of thirst.
Will we settle for what we presently know, what we presently have under control, what is safe for us?
Or will we take a long, straight look deep into our hearts and deal with what we find there?
That you might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19
Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. John 7:38
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb. Revelations 12:11
All the years I have walked with God a question has haunted me, pursued me, found me out every time I managed to build a “safe” place for myself.
Is God doing something in the earth, and I am not a part of it?
To be honest with you, I can think of nothing more horrifying.
So my life is not filled with all the fullness of God; that does not mean some group of people somewhere are not embracing the fullness of His presence.
So I don’t see rivers of living water flowing out of me to water the thirsty souls around me, that does not mean that somewhere some group of people are not witnessing rivers, not trickles, but rivers of living water sweeping the landscape around them and flowing out of their own hearts.
So my fellowship is not triumphing over Satan in every way; that does not mean all other fellowships are therefore living in denied defeat as well.
But we know God will fulfill His word. There is no argument there. He will do what He says. As God brings this age of human folly to His stunning, overwhelming conclusion, people will be filled with all the fullness of God. People will experience rivers of living water flowing out of them. People will triumph over every work of darkness.
And when I stand before Him, I cannot say, “I did not know.”
For He will say, “No, son, you did not want!”
Safety was everything. Thirst was just too, well, dangerous.
But not for me! To deny thirst is to deny God. I cannot think of anything more empty.
What do I want? I know exactly what I want.
When Jesus stands upon this earth, I want to be just like Him. I in Him, and He in me. I want Him to put His arm around my shoulder, turn to all the universe, and say, “This is Daniel, he is with Me; he is one of Mine.”
And I will trade everything I am in this world for that one moment that will last forever.
I believe that you want the very same thing. Will you accept the thirst from God that will take you there?
Every other voice will say, “No, stay safe. Stay with your church. Stay under the leadership. Stay with what you know. Thirst is too risky. It will get you into trouble. It might even get you killed.”
I know this: If I do not ask, it will not be given to me. If I do not seek, I will not find. If I do not knock, the door will not be opened to me.
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:8
Thirst is the thing that will make me ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking – Thirst!
Jesus described a person who “played it safe,” who did not risk everything with what God had given him. But he also described two other people who took what they had and risked it all to gain more. (Matthew 25:14-30)
No, God is not safe, and “playing it safe” is the most dangerous thing a person can do. I have so often seen myself as that servant who “played it safe.”
“God, let Your thirst never leave my heart until I know that it is filled entirely with You.”
And, after everything else, the question that remains is — what do you want?
I believe your answer is the same as mine.
If you are not satisfied with your present experience with God and want to deal openly with this thing called Thirst, let’s find out together what else God is doing in the earth.
Jesus made this promise to the Apostle John: “I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” Revelation 21:6-7
Let’s take Him at His word – together.
Our thirst matches His Desire. They were made for each other. The depth of our thirst matches the depth of the Desire birthing Himself in our hearts. The depth of the Desire arising within us matches the depth of our thirst. Watch the movie, August Rush with Freddie Highmore. I watch it over and over, and every time I am left feeling such an overwhelming sense of the deep inside of me calling – singing – for the Deep inside of God.
I was standing in a state park “Heritage Christmas” festival, listening to the secular Christmas songs. They start singing “Silent Night,” and immediately my heart is lifted to the heavens, tears stream down my face, and the deep thirst in me calls to the depth of Desire flowing out of God inside of me.
It takes nothing more than the tip of a feather to stir all the depths of thirst that fill my heart.
The marriage union of Thirst and Desire.
The marriage of the Lamb.