“I got up and gave you both halves of your breakfast, Barn, at 6:00 and again at 8:00,” I mumbled, pulling the blanket to my chin. “But you have not gotten on the bed,” I thought, “since you went blind two months ago, and you have not gotten me up when I oversleep either.”
My hand reached to pull back the covers before the thought completely formed in my mind. “Barny is asking, no begging, for our brushing time! How sweet! Thank You, Lord, for that!”
I had always brushed him and given him catnip. But, since learning of the cancer, each morning I sat on the floor, let him lick a tablespoon of catnip out of my hand then spent fifteen minutes brushing his coat, gently running my hands the length of his small body, caressing his ears and face and, of course, crooning. This morning, Barny had insisted and required this of me. Food alone no longer satisfied. He craved my attention and affection. He had a desperately seeking heart. Why? He had experienced what 15 minutes of pure joy felt like. He wanted more!
A rich blessing of affliction. Talking with a friend last week about seeking God brought to mind my recent experience in seeking greater awareness of God’s presence. I thought I loved God and truly depended on Him, and I did, but after two years of depression I learned that when God says “Seek My face (Psalm 27:8)” He means to desperately insist and require His presence.
During that struggle with depression, I did everything I heard of, including lots of counseling and many times of special prayer. It all helped but each day was still miserable. Some days were a ceaseless torment. Slow improvement came when I overcame my reluctance to take an antidepressant. But the struggling continued, without peace, until I began studying the Word of God, for myself, in my areas of need, and began thinking and speaking the Word as often as I could remember.
After some weeks of success in finding peace through pondering Scriptures during daily activities, I recall thinking I did not have the strength or even want to be like Joyce Meyer and other Bible teachers who sounded like the Word was all they thought of all day long. My sin, rebellion, weakness, doubt, laziness, and the enemy’s lies are obvious in that attitude! But, God graciously gave me a willing heart and renewed a steadfast spirit in me (Psalm 51:10). I soon saw that thinking on His Word all day long was just what I needed (Proverbs 4:21).
So, I began studying the Word MUCH more and spending more time learning new Bible passages or repeating ones I already knew, out loud as well as silently. The more minutes of the day I kept His Word on my mind and in my mouth, the more hours I searched His word and discovered truth I needed, the more healing came. Month by month, discouraging, self-critical and thoughts and fears overwhelmed me less often. Gradually, my mind was renewed enough so that I remained in peace, keeping my mind fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3) His Word was becoming life to me and health to my whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-23)
God tells us to desperately seek Him. In Psalm 27:8 God tells us, “. . . Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need].” And the psalmist replies “My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]” (AMPC). Notice that God tells us to ask for His presence and require His presence as our vital need. If something is vital, it means we must have it to live, like oxygen, food, and water. In older times, a wound was called vital if it was fatal. Ponder this and you will see it means we are to seek God’s presence as the number one thing in our lives. I did not do that before my affliction, but I do now! I know only God can keep my heart at peace.
An excellent Bible study is to type “seek, inquire, and require” into the search window of a website like Bible Gateway, where you can search the AMPC translation for that phrase. You will find 33 results, which will show you that, when God says seek or search, He does not mean a casual, haphazard, if-you-feel-like-it effort.
Ask God to make your heart willing. I did not consistently find God’s presence until I desperately pursued Him. My motivation was the fear that anxious, depressing thoughts would return. I say with the psalmist “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey your word” and “It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn You decrees.” (Psalm 119:67 and 71, NIV) I cannot explain how it works but God He does indeed make everything turn out for our good (Romans 8:28) and trials and temptations do help us become “. . . mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4). That is why James 1:1-4 tells us to rejoice about trials and temptations. Like the goldsmith’s refining fire, hardships purify us.
Desperation for God is good. God knows just what works with each of us because He knows our hearts (Jeremiah 17:10, Acts 15:8), and if we ask for something good, He will give us good things, not bad (Mathew 7:9-11). God never withholds any good thing from those who walk blamelessly before Him. (Psalm 84:11b) Cling to that promise as you draw nearer to God! He is with you when you are with Him. (2 Chronicles 15:2). So, I say, dear friend, if you want a closer closeness with God, pray Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV) along with me:
- Create in me a pure heart, o God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
- Do not cast me from Your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
- Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
God’s presence is a priceless gift. How blessed we are that He makes it available to anyone who seeks Him – desperately!