In athletics, there is a massive internal characteristic that separates the good from the great players. Some call it that inner drive. Others title it the strive for greatness. Being someone who loves to watch sport’s documentaries, I cannot help but notice which athletes have this characteristic.
After listening to the accounts of hundreds of players, I am convinced that this mark that separates good from great is that unmistakable internal craving to grow. It is that incredible drive to spend the extra hour in the gym after all the other teammates have gone home and the desire to get to the gritty areas of an ice surface that other players seek to avoid. It is almost an unteachable attribute. Some athletes have it. Many do not.
Similarly, there is a unique characteristic that separates mere religious people from those who are committed followers of Jesus Christ. It is not always easy to define but it is unmistakably present in the life of every Monday Christian. This characteristic is thirst.
As I write this, I think back to when my wife and I were just one week removed from the birth of our first child, Zoey Jane. Aside from being incredibly cute, she had an unsatisfiable appetite for milk. Day and night she seemingly had one thought on her mind, “How can I get more to drink?!”
When I think of the Christian life, I think of my little Zoey and her thirst for nourishment. Within every Christian, there should be this unquenchable desire to drink deeply and often from the things of God. The Apostle Paul writes,
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” — 1 Peter 2:2-3
Perhaps the key sentence in this passage rests in verse 3, “IF indeed you have tasted the Lord is good.” Peter is making an assumption that when people taste of the Lord’s goodness, they become like the baby who desires milk. They wake up and their first thought is, “I need to drink!” All throughout the day their minds gravitate to this thought, “Wow, I just want more of God in my life!” As they lay their head down on the pillow at night, their thoughts drift toward the things of God and that desire to end the day drinking from his goodness is strong.
Reading God’s Word is not a chore but a tremendous source of nourishment and strength. Spending time in prayer, while an ongoing discovery process, is exciting and entered into with great anticipation.
Why Am I Not More Thirsty?
Before I continue, I know what you might be thinking. “Ezra, this sounds great and is probably the spiritual response I should be having, but right now I feel as though my desire for God is low at this point.”
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Are there dry seasons of the soul where our thirst for God seems absent? Absolutely and I have experienced many of these. But through the midst of these troughs, I have also found an inner longing to know God deeper than I have before. And I have watched as this passion has marked the lives of every great man and woman of faith.
Ultimately, low desire for God stems from failing to understand the ways he has worked in the past, the ongoing nature of his transforming work inside of us, and the promise of the future that he offers.
Low desire for God stems from failing to understand the ways he has worked in the past, the ongoing nature of his transforming work inside of us, and the promise of the future that he offers.
When this happens we begin to grow discouraged. We wonder, “Does God still care?” “Does he have a plan for our lives?” As author Daniel Henderson points out, discouragement is rooted in a temporary loss of perspective. We do not want more of who God is because we have lost sight of the grand picture of what he is doing in our lives.
Maybe this is where you are at. Believe me when I say I have been there. There have been many nights when I have laid awake in bed staring blankly at the ceiling with a hollow emptiness inside wondering if my entire perception of God was wrong. I have struggled heavily with doubts. The grand questions of life surrounding such issues like pain and suffering often haunt me.
But it is in these tunnels of darkness that I am compelled to cling to what God has revealed to me in the light. And when I do so, my heart goes back to these four pillars that I know to be true about God’s character. He is always good, always wise, always sovereign, and always faithful. Always.
I recognize that when I do not want more of God in my life, that is not God’s fault. It’s mine. The more we pursue after God, the more we discover that he has really been pursuing us.
Prime the Pump
Growing up, my family had an old-fashioned hand pump that sat at the top of a deep well. Without water or some form of lubrication, the pump would dry up and we would not be able to draw water. This is why we always had a container of water sitting next to the pump so that it could be primed. By pouring a small amount of water into the pump we were able to receive an abundance of water out of the pump.
When we are journeying through a season of dryness, this is where we must begin to prime the pump of our souls. In our souls, praise is the canister of water that is readily available to us. When we are spiritually dry, it is our praise to God that opens up the valve of thirst inside. We cannot miss this.
Thirst for God is not regained by vegging out on the things of the world while placing on him the demands that he speak to us on our terms. Doing so is like the husband demanding their wives to have physical intercourse while contributing nothing to their spouses’ emotional needs throughout the day. It is the greedy child who only spends time with their parents when they know they are about to receive a gift.
Thirst for God is not regained by vegging out on the things of the world while placing on him the demands that he speak to us on our terms.
If we have no desire to prime the pump, we must not expect God to continue to extend his mercy and grace. Thankfully, he has and continues to do so in so many ways, but it is not an expectation we should feel is our entitlement to hold. As Ravi Zacharias states,
“When you are determined in going your own direction it is quite possible that God will step aside and second your motion.”
Are you frustrated as to why you are not more thirsty for God? My answer is to prime the pump. Find pathways to praise him even when your feelings have no interest in joining you on your journey.