I was so convicted to realize that often I say I want God, but I am really using God to get what I want. When God doesn’t give me what I want: A happy marriage, obedient kids, and a career firing on all cylinders, I get mad at him and withdraw from him. Sadly, I wasn’t wanting God, I was using God to get something I found more valuable. Will I develop a unstable craving for God himself?
1. Ipex have an Unstable Craving for God
David mentions the deer/Ipex/Ram again in Psalms 42…
42:1-3 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Notice the craving is a thirst for knowing God personally. Not being a good person, being moral, or doing the right thing. You can be a good, moral person with no thirst for God. No personal relationship with him. Notice that David pants for “you, o God.” He wants to know him. His soul thirsts for God himself. He is homesick for God and can’t wait to appear before him. Is this psychological instability? This is not religion. This is not irreligion. This is an unstable craving for God himself.
There is a big difference between Confidence in God and say, “Wishful thinking.” Several years ago I had someone come up to me after a service and say, “WOW! I read this great book called the secret. It’s about visualizing good things in life and willing them into existence. Chad, this is just what you were talking about..” I paused… Hmmm, No, that’s not what I am talking about. Thinking we can “will” the universe or reality to modify to our liking is naive at best, egomania at worse. It’s an attempt to be God. No, wishful thinking is NOT what the Bible is subscribing. This STABLE FOOTING that comes from an UNSTABLE CRAVING is not “stockholm Syndrome”
Stockholm Syndrome is the belief that “we will be free by Christmas” and then Christmas comes and hopelessness caves in… Optimists die in Captivity… Realism… is different… Not “we are going to be out by Christmas.. but instead, “you must not confuse faith that you will prevail in the end -which you can never afford to lose- with discipline to confront the most brutal of facts of your current reality, whatever it might be…. John Leach teaches Survival skills to British forces. He wrote Survival Psychology, the bible for who lives and dies in difficulty in life… for special forces. He teaches people how to survive in freezing reaches of Canada, steamy jungles of Belize, and scorching deserts of Southern California. He said the biggest mistake you can make is superstition… different from faith, “The illogic goes like this: If you don’t think about something, it won’t happen. If you do think about it, it will. So when it comes to danger, it’s better not to think about it at all… It’s classic superstition and nothing is more perilous to your survival”
Unstable Craving vs. Unstable Superstition
Only truth can make you free. Most of us think superstition is faith. It’s not. The Bible calls us to truthful thinking, not wishful thinking.
Superstition: If I think about something…it does or doesn’t happen
Unstable Craving: God, I want you to be more real to me as we go through this.
Superstition: I can’t handle this if it goes on for more than two months.
Craving: God I need you to strengthen me for whatever comes my way.
Notice that David is in difficulty. He can’t wish his enemies away or hope for the best. But he can know that God is with him. Know God is in control. Know that he is not alone. Then David tells us his secret.. What he “remembers” in the midst of difficulty.
2. An Unstable Conversation to overcome fear with truth
Many think that in the face of danger we Panic! You see this in movies all the time. A bomb blows up. An emergency strikes and people PANIC, they run around yelling and screaming. Researchers have found that fear doesn’t usually result in Panic. Instead we freeze. The word “Pan”-ic comes from a Greek God Pan who ruled the woods and fields and stirred up mysterious sounds causing contagious groundless fear in herds and crowds or in people in lonely places. He was very ram like too. The ram of Panic makes us fearful in the face of adversity, the unknown, or a tough decision. We panic, nut in contrast to the movies, we freeze when we fear. Like deer in the headlights… We don’t know what to do.. so they freeze… As David is hit with unknown uncertainty, he doesn’t panic or freeze out of fear. David knows that “standing” there will not work. Instead he Purposely engages in what might seem like an unstable practice. He talks truth to himself!
He teaches his mind to lap up the truth that God is with him. God is near. He is not alone. He thanked God for being with him in the difficulty.
4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise. With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
That might seem unstable… “talking to yourself” about God, his presence, his with-you-ness… That might seem like an unstable Craving for “superstition…” But it’s not… David reminds himself of these things… That knowing God and leaning into his strength is the most important way to endure. Research has shown that those who set their minds on this type of thinking: Not only Survive… They Thrive in Difficulty.
Several years ago, I had a friend who started coming to Horizon for the first time. He was not a church goer or a person of faith. He started coming when he met a friend, Rob, who attended Horizon. Rob’s life seemed genuine and to have a “quality” that this guy wanted. After he had been attending for a few months, I was sharing this idea of “soul talk” and how two people can encounter the same situation and have totally different reactions. After the service, he pulled me aside and said, “This explains everything… I can’t tell you how many things in my life are suddenly coming into focus.” We talked for awhile as he asked questions about how to “talk truth to yourself.”
United Flight 232 from Denver to Chicago was going down. Jerry Schemmel said to himself, “We’re going down.” As it made an easy right turn at 37000 feet, a huge fan rotor in engine two disintegrated, Inside the cabin, it sounded like a thunderclap. Schemmel immediately began to pray. his first words were not for deliverance or for himself. Rather, he thanked God that his wife Diane wasn’t with him on the flight. He would never want her to experience this kind of dread. Then he surveyed the rest of the passengers and saw panic in their eyes. They were frozen with fear.” A wave of sobbing swept through the cabin. Schemmel turned to the Lord and said, “Help them God, Please help the flight attendants… My life is basically in order, at least as much as anyone has a right to expect when suddenly faced with death. Take me God, if you have to, I’m ready. Schemmel was 29 years old. He kept talking to himself and praying, “Don’t panic, Stay calm. Help other passengers out of the plane. Don’t flee the aircraft if we land…” The plane cart wheeled down the runway, broke into two pieces and landed in a cornfield across from the airport. Schemmel was one of 184 survivors; 112 were killed in the crash, including Schemmel’s boss. ”I look back at that experience and see for me the easy part. That crash was easy compared to what followed,” he said. Schemmel was warned about the symptoms of post-traumatic stress – survivor’s guilt, anger, listlessness and depression – but never thought it would happen to him. Like everybody else, I had a really difficult time with post-traumatic stress, anger, depression and survivor’s guilt,” he said. “About a year after the crash, being unemployed, having a marriage that was hanging by a thread, in depression from the crash, I had nowhere else to turn. I had no spiritual foundation, so I turned to God, asked Jesus to come into my life and for relief. I invited Christ into my life as my lord and savior. Once I figured out that it’s never going to make sense, and I’ll never have the answers, it got easier after that. God has a plan for everybody. I would’ve written it differently, but I have faith in him.”
How did Jerry find a Stable Footing? With an Unstable Craving! He began to crave God like a Deer craves water. He began to Crave God’s truth and talk truth to himself, rather than Freezing in the face of uncertainty and death. Jerry found what David found… A craving after God… gives a stable footing. Jesus was the ultimate example of this..
Jesus finds himself on a few mountains in his life. And he has an incredibly stable footing in the most difficult mountains. He is on the Mount of Olives praying for God to allow him to NOT be crucified, but God tells him to go forward anyway. Jesus says, Not my will, but yours be done… And after hours of cravings after God’s power and strength, he has the footing to take on the death on a cross. Jesus finds himself on the Mountain of Transfiguration, another mountain where he reveals himself to his followers as more than a man. He reveals himself as God himself. They are so in awe of Jesus, they set up an altar to worship Him right there. They crave knowing him even more. Then Jesus finds himself on The mountain of golgotha… Here on this mount he dies, is tortured, to mocked, is crushed, and in the midst of the most horrible terrain a human being has ever endured, Jesus finds the stable footing of God. He is able to forgive his enemies. he is able to surrender himself to God in the midst of the tragedy by saying, “INto YOUR HANDS I commit my spirit.” And his craving and thirst from God is evident… One of the last phrases out of his mouth is “I thirst”
A Stable Footing Comes from an Unstable Craving
Run to the Mountain, instead of running to the mountains.
When we are in trouble, we have a desire to run away. We even use the phrase, “head for the hills” or run to the mountains to describe the desire to run away from instability in our lives. We pray “run to the mountains” prayers.. “God, fix this… change this…. God get me out of here.” These are all RUn to the mountain prayers… But what if we RUN TO THE MOUNTAIN, instead of running for the mountains. What if God was our mountain. What if he was our strength in the midst of difficulty. We would have the mountain with us at all times. Escapism doesn’t work for long through positive thinking, drugs, sex, or medication. We need to RUN TO THE MOUNTAIN, instead of running for the mountains.
The strength goes with you wherever you go.
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