She’s never been a really super cuddly one, that title belongs to her brother. As a toddler she would sometimes push me away when I would try hug her or kiss her little dimpled check. This has changed little as Gingernut has gotten older.
Me? I like touch. I like cuddles and hugs. I like to hold hands with the kids. Lil’ Paul will almost always hold my hand. Gingernut…not so much.
Several months ago, Gingernut and I had to have a “talkin’ to.” For those vague with this phrase, it is simply when one person needs to be talked to about something of importance by another person. Our “talkin’to” was about hand holding. When I would take Gingernut’s little porcelain white, freckled hand in mine, she would kinda pull/snatch/wrench it away, which almost always upset me. Finally, one day, instead of getting upset, I explained to her that when she pulls her hand out of mine it hurts my feelings. If she doesn’t want to hold my hand she only has to tell me so. Now, she does just that. But I’ve found that since the “talkin’ to” she will come up beside me and slip that dear little hand into mine more and more and without any coaxing from me. She takes my hand because she wants to, not because I forced her to do it.
Our heavenly Father desires for us to come to Him not out of a forced will or out of a sense of duty but because we want to, because we know in Him is found our fullest satisfaction.
The psalmists wrote:
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
“Delight yourself in the LORD; and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
“I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1
Jesus said that “‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.'” Matthew 13:44
In God, and only God, can we be fully satisfied. The psalmists knew this. Jesus knew that we could never been satisfied without him. And when we are satisfied in him then we come to him with joy, thanksgiving and praise. How could we do otherwise?
I was told many moons ago that sometimes we come to God solely out of obedience. We won’t always “feel” like reading the Bible or praying, but we do it anyway. I know that the not always “feeling” like it feeling is true because I have experienced it, but does that make it ok? Is God most glorified and honored when I come to Him solely out of obedience or a sense of obligation or an “I have to” attitude? I don’t think so. Based on what I read in Scripture I think that just like I want Gingernut to want to hold my hand, God wants us to want to be with Him. Not because He made us but because it makes us happy and fulfilled and complete to do so.
In the 100th psalm, the psalmist writes,
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
We are to come to Him with joy, gladness, singing, and thanksgiving. That doesn’t sound like someone who feels an obligation or duty. It sounds like someone who has learned that in God is found their fullest satisfaction. If I know that, as John Piper says, in him is satisfaction to the fullest and forever, then how could I ever come to Him solely out of obedience or obligation? Abiding in Him is obedient, but it is done out of love. I want to always pursue Him with a humble spirit, full of praise and adoration, knowing that in Him only can I ever be truly joyful, content, filled, satisfied, loved. He wants to be my greatest desire. Do I want Him to be mine? If I know the truths found in Scripture how could I not?
And yet, so many times I fail. I fail to delight in Him, choosing to find my delight in the world and always coming up empty. I fail to be fully satisfied in Him, instead looking around me for satisfaction. I fail to love Him and end up not loving those around me well. I fail to praise Him and by the end of the day I have all but cursed the life I live.
I have learned that in those moments, the moments when I don’t “feel” like it, the first thing I need to do is confess and ask God to forgive me. Then ask Him to give me the desire to want to be with Him, to remind me of His greatness, His goodness, His love, His grace, His mercy.
I want so much to crave Him every single moment of every single day for the rest of my life. I want to love Him so much that the love I have for others looks like hate in comparison. I don’t want to have “spiritual highs” because they will inevitably be followed by “spiritual lows”. Even in the valleys that life will inevitably bring my way, I want to be found faithful, not just in my having a relationship with God but with how I have attended to that relationship. I want to purse Him on the mountaintops and the valleys. I never, ever want to think of my relationship with Him as mundane or ordinary. And I never, ever want to come to Him out of obligation or because I think I “have to.”
I always want to want to slip my hand lovingly, quietly into His, allowing Him to gently hold me, leading me where He wants me to go. And in doing so, bring Him glory and honor.