friend of mine whispered to me the other day his conviction that the eventual downfall of the U.S. democracy will be traced to January 6, 2021, and the mob attack on Capitol Hill. My eyebrows arched, considering the bright mind and respected scholarship behind the whisper. But then everybody has an opinion these days, have you noticed?
Nevertheless, with the one-year anniversary upon us, it is prudent we pause and reflect on this new year’s “new normal.” On the health front, the COVID-19 pandemic surges with the Omicron variant — we all know — but there is hope its surge will not reflect a sharp rise in mortality rates as well. And on the political front, there’s no need to even review its landscape — we’ve already formed our own conclusions about all of that, irrespective of what news outlets may tell us to the contrary. But then, welcome to life in the U.S. today.
My concern for us is on the spiritual front. How is it with your soul and mine? Are we closer to the Savior this New Year than last New Year? Is the Spirit of God finding fuller access to our private lives and personal decisions, our practice behind closed doors?
Consider this ancient prayer in the old King James Bible:“My soul followeth hard after thee” (Ps. 63:8).“I cling to you”is the same prayer in our own vernacular (NIV). But do we . . . do you . . . do I . . . follow hard after God . . . cling to Him?
A. W. Tozer, in his long-ago The Pursuit of God, reflected on the psalmist’s prayer and then made this appeal:
“I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality of our religious lives results from our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present, or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.”
Did you catch that? “He waits to be wanted.” I know you want Him, and so do I. But is it a “My soul followeth hard after Thee” kind of want? How hard do we really want Him?
Maybe our New Year prayer ought to be, “Lord, help me to want to want You.” As Tozer noted, “He waits to be wanted.” As Ellen White often observed, we must be “willing to be made willing.” So why not ask Christ to mentor us into a deeper wanting, a following hard after Him this new year? “Lord, help me to want to want You.”
Given the trajectory of the U.S., it is hardly rocket (let alone political) science to recognize that what we once prized as a country is slipping away and could suddenly be taken away. If ever this secular country needed God — and by that I mean the people we work with and pray for — this would be the right time to personally model to them a deeper devotion to Christ, a following hard after Him. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with such a friend of Jesus? “Lord, help me to want to want You.”
Clearly, this wanting must begin with us — we can’t wait for the country to do it. So, to help answer our own prayer, “Help me to want to want You,” the practice of the ancients (and of those who walk with Jesus today — and you know who they are) must become ours. Begin each day with a less hurried and more deliberate meditating on Holy Scripture verse by verse, joined to an uninterrupted conversation with God through prayer. The books on how to do it are legion. But the prayer to go deeper is ours.
“Lord, help me to want to want You.”
1. Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
2. A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1982), p. 17 (emphasis supplied).
3. Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, Calif., Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. 482.