Cravings (Psalm 63:1, John 6:35, John 7:37-39)

A craving is an intense desire or longing. Some people crave chocolate. Some people crave football. Some people crave a break. My wife Carla craves Diet Coke. I crave dark roast coffee. Our nine month-old granddaughter Sylvia craves whatever she can gnaw on to relieve her precious yet sore mouth.

Take a moment to list your cravings. I say “moment” because true cravings will pounce onto the list.

Which of your cravings are good for you? Which cravings are not good for you? Which cravings are good for you until they become too much of a good thing and turn on you?

In Psalm 63:1 David says, “Oh God, You are my God, I earnestly search for You. My soul thirsts for You. My whole body longs for You in this dry and weary land where there is no water.”

David was on the run in a wilderness, out in the middle of nowhere, watching his back, ducking and dodging. His extreme physical hunger and thirst reminded him that he was even more hungry and thirsty for the deep fulfillment he could find exclusively in the manifested presence of God. David had learned by personal experience that relationship with the living God could satisfy his deepest aches and longings better than anything or anybody, and he wanted to return to that gratifying relational place. Reading ahead we find David telling us he found fulfillment while still in the wilderness.

WOW.

In America, our cravings have become industries. We can get what we want, when we want it, as much as we want, and we can even swipe a card or click an app and delay the practical consequences of our choices.

Perhaps we are in our own postmodern wildernesses where we attempt to satisfy God cravings with people and places and things (God-substitutes). These God-substitutes jump the instant gratification needle but they are not sustainable, and they have a nasty habit of serving up life damaging fallout once the needle stops jumping.

What if our cravings are more spiritual in nature but we keep misdiagnosing them? What if our starved souls are screaming for God’s presence but we keep trying to gratify our souls with inadequate indulgences? What if our self-imposed wildernesses can be wake-up calls?

John 6 records Jesus and the disciples miraculously feeding thousands of people with five barley loaves and two fish donated by a little boy. The next day the crowd looks until they locate their new Messianic meal ticket, McJesus. During the ensuing dialogue Jesus says to them, “I Myself am the Bread of life. The person who is continually coming to Me will never ever at any time be hungry, and the person who continually believes in Me and trusts in Me will never ever at any time be thirsty.” (John 6:35)  

John 7 gives an account of Jesus showing up at an eight-day long Jewish festival reenacting their forty years in the wilderness and celebrating how God miraculously provided water. On the climactic day of this water festival, Jesus secures everybody’s attention and yells, “Anyone who is thirsty, come to Me and drink up! If you believe in and entrust yourself to Me you can come to Me and drink continually. For the Scriptures say, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from their hearts.’” (John 7:37-38) John the Gospel writer adds a parenthetical statement that we call verse 39. “When Jesus said ‘living water,’ He was referring to the Spirit Who would be given to everybody believing in and entrusting themselves to Him. But the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory by being crucified and resurrected.”

Jesus was telling them (and us) that relationship with God in Christ abundantly and eternally satisfies our cravings.

Have your cravings driven you into a spiritual or emotional wilderness? Are you sick and tired of wandering around in a dry and weary land where there is no water? Are you willing to let Psalm 63 redirect your cravings in the right direction, in an ultimately satisfying direction?

It’s possible you are in a wilderness you did not choose. Life circumstances dumped or threw you into this dry and weary land where there is no sustenance and no relief. You are grief-stricken or depressed or lonely or desperate or exhausted. David didn’t choose the wilderness either. The jealous and homicidal king Saul chased David into the wilderness. What David found in his physical wilderness you can find in your emotional wilderness. Please know I would not make such a claim unless I had experienced the presence of Christ in my own dry and weary lands and had come alongside scores of other suffering people as they experienced the same.

I suggest you take your list of cravings, whatever they are, and place your cravings alongside Psalm 63:1. Let this verse become your prayer for a few days. Don’t try to do anything. Be a sponge. Welcome the Holy Spirit into all of your cravings. Invite the Holy Spirit to use this Psalm to speak to your cravings. Expect Christ to do what only Christ can do. Christ can liberate you from dangerous and destructive cravings. Christ can bring into balance the good cravings you struggle to manage. Christ can stimulate the spiritual cravings God created you to have. Christ can bring healing to the cravings you did not choose. God can enable you to desire the heart and the ways of Jesus like never before. That craving is better in every way imaginable.

This is what I hear God saying to me through these three passages. Oh God, You are my God, I earnestly search for You. My soul thirsts for You. My whole body longs for You in this dry and weary land where there is no water. But there is water, if I simply remember where to look. Christ is Living Water and the Bread of Life, and Christ is those realities no matter where I circumstantially or internally find myself.

Bottom line – wildernesses happen. We cannot always choose where we are, but we can always choose where we live. May we crave shared life with the One Whose crucified and risen life abundantly and eternally satisfies.

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

 

Christ Sitting with Us In It (Isaiah 63:9, Hebrews 4:14-16)

In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them THROUGH all the years. (Isaiah 63:9, prophesying about Christ)

How do you picture this verse? Where is Jesus? Where are you? What is happening? How is Jesus helping you?

Therefore, since we have a magnificent King-Priest, Jesus Christ the Son of God, who has passed through the heavens from death into new life with God, we must keep tenaciously clinging in faith to all we know to be true and real. For we do not have a divine Go-between Who is incapable of understanding and empathizing with the realities of our weak and flawed humanity. Our divine Go-between fully entered our afflictions. As a Man our magnificent King-Priest was tempted and tested and pressurized in every way just as we are and He emerged sinless and victorious. What this means is we can keep coming openly and boldly to the place where loving grace is enthroned, so that we can receive mercy’s kiss and discover the divine enablement we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

How do you picture this passage? Where is Jesus? Where are you? What is happening? How is Jesus helping you?

Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, offers this insight: “I thought faith would say, ‘I’ll take away the pain and discomfort,’ but what it ended up saying was, ‘I’ll sit with you in it.’ I never thought, until I found it, that it would be enough, but it’s perfect…I don’t feel alone in it anymore.”

Jesus suffers with us and rescues us and redeems us and lifts us and carries us primarily through our faith relationships.

…1 Corinthians 12:26 (The Passion Translation) …whatever happens to one member happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honored, everyone rejoices.

…Galatians 6:2 (The Passion Translation) Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles.

How are you experiencing Christ sitting with you in “it”? In what specific ways are your faith brothers and sisters embodying Christ to you?

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmisl.com)

 

Psalm 131

Lord, my heart has stopped needing to compulsively make everything about me.

My ego has stopped needing to compulsively prop me up by putting others down.

I have stopped needing to compulsively get myself all tangled up in matters that are too complicated for me or too far above me.

Instead, I choose to become quiet and calm in Your presence like a small, contented, weaned child being held in the arms of a loving Mother.

Because I am Your weaned and resting child, my soul is deeply content to be held in Your arms.

People of God, let us rest our trust and our hope in the Lord now and from now on.

(Psalm 131 from a variety of translations and Hebrew word studies)

 

God Inside the Broken Heart (Psalm 34:18)

The Lord moves in so close to people whose hearts have burst open that God is actually present with them inside the broken heart. God rescues people whose spirits are crushed, rescuing them not by taking them out of it but by bringing them through it.

This is Psalm 34:18, based on several translations and Hebrew language word studies. What I hear God’s Spirit saying in this verse is that when we have troubles God has us, which means God also has our troubles.

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com rickjordankcmo@gmail.com) 

 

Productive Suffering (Psalm 116:10)

I believed in You and I trusted You, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, Lord.” (Psalm 116:10)

The best news from Psalm 116:10 is the fact that this anonymous psalmist expresses it in the past tense. In fact, please take time to read the entire psalm and observe the psalmist moving effortlessly between past tense, present tense, and future tense. But verse 10 stands alone in the psalm as evidence that faith and suffering are not mutually exclusive. People who trust in God suffer, but people who trust in God do not have to pretend it’s all good when it isn’t. God knows us inside and out, knows us far better than we know ourselves. God knows what we are thinking and feeling, but it is still vital to the relationship that we say to God what we are thinking and feeling. Once we are willing to speak our hearts and our minds, then the content is “out.” We can choose to be in God’s presence with holy honesty which leads to productive suffering. Because God has total access to us, God can start doing what God alone can do – wasting nothing and shaping us in the image of our suffering Servant Savior, Jesus Christ.

What does your hurting heart need to say to God right now?

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

 

When Life Becomes Moment-by-Moment (Psalm 31:14-15)

In the Model Prayer, Jesus prays, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah affirms that God’s mercies are new every morning.

These passages help us live in a day-to-day reliance on God in Christ. But what about those seasons in life when we are simply trying to somehow make it moment-by-moment?

In Psalm 31:14-15 David says this. “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in your hands….’”

My times are in Your hands.

No matter what time increment best fits our journey, God’s immediate presence is available. Day-to-day or hour-to-hour or minute-to-minute or second-to-second…God has us. God has us when we are clinging. God has us when we have let go for a while.

God, our times are in Your Hands.

God, this moment is in Your Hands.

God, this breath is in Your Hands.

God, I choose to be in Your Hands.

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com

 

The Jesus Who will put us through whatever it takes (John 9)

Reading the Gospel of John chapter 9, I am stunned as I watch everything Jesus put that blind beggar through.

Jesus spat on the ground next to the man, which was something Jewish people commonly did to disabled beggars to convey their disgust and to communicate their opinion that God had cursed the person with the affliction because of something the beggar’s parents did or something the beggar did. In the case of this man born blind, we would be talking about prenatal sin – like perhaps the embryonic baby had a porn stash in his mother’s womb.

THEN Jesus smeared muddy spit paste over the man’s blind eyes and told him to grope his way to the pool of Siloam. Jesus didn’t even guide him there! What abuse must the man have endured from people as he crawled or stumbled to the pool?

After the beggar’s eyes were opened, Jesus vanished from the scene, leaving the man to tell his story repeatedly to religious leaders whose interrogation intensified until finally those leaders barred him from the synagogue because he had the audacity to let some controversial Rabbi miraculously heal him on the Sabbath, committing two code violations the leaders had added to the laws in the Hebrew Scriptures.

But by the end of John’s Gospel chapter 9, the formerly blind former beggar could physically AND spiritually see! Notice how the man’s courage grew and his perceptions about Jesus brightened each time he repeated his story.

Is it possible Jesus knows what He is doing? Can it be that Jesus will stop at nothing to open our eyes and develop our faith? Can it be that Jesus will put us through whatever it takes to open our eyes and develop our faith?

I emphatically believe so.

When I measure these truths about Jesus alongside my prayer life, I wonder how often I ask God to take me the easy way through (or give me the easy way out). That path-of-least-resistance praying comes up short when compared to the formidable dimensions of John 9. God must know that, if God took us the easy way through, we might arrive sooner. However, that version of ourselves showing up at the destination would not be up to the challenge or that version of ourselves would not see clearly enough with the eyes of faith to trust and obey vigorously. So maybe our prayer lives need a new gear. The new gear might sound like this – “God, please put me through whatever it takes to open my eyes and develop my faith. Thank You for not taking me the easy way. Thank you for loving me enough and dignifying my journey enough to be as hard on me as you were on that guy back in John 9.”

I am reading an article from the Sojourner’s website about Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head). He discovered CTE while examining Mike Webster, the NFL center whose life ended tragically because of multiple concussions. In the interview with Sojourner’s Bradford William Davis, Omalu says this – “I let the Spirit of God percolate into my being. Everything I do, I do through the eyes of faith.”

WOW.

May you and I become people who let God’s Spirit percolate into our beings so thoroughly that we do everything through the eyes of faith – no matter what it takes.

In Jesus’ name,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)