Liam and I went to the park a few weeks ago, but since there were girls playing at the playground, and since Liam is at a stage where he vehemently dislikes girls and doesn’t try to hide his feelings about it, I opted to walk him past the playground and take him to the nearby river instead. I figured we would avoid hurting anyone’s feelings this way.
I’ve enjoyed this river ever since we moved here in March. It’s not the most beautiful river I’ve ever seen, and it’s definitely not the cleanest either, but there’s something about this place where I find solace. I can sense God’s presence more clearly here, calling me to simply rest and be.
Often times, Liam and I feed the animals found here, which includes ducks, turtles, nutrias, and even the grackles, sparrows, and squirrels that venture up close enough for a bite to eat. They always respond in a certain way, approaching us just closely enough along the river bank to snatch a piece of food. And I respond to this scene in a certain way too, fully taking in this moment that somehow feels so cathartic to me each and every time.
Often times, I wonder why I am moved by this moment so much. I have recently come to realize, however, that it must be in part because of the minor reflection it is of what life must have been like in Eden. It is but a mere shell of the former glory that Adam and Eve must have experienced when they literally walked with God and in harmony with all of creation. But more personally, I feel convicted through the obvious hunger of these small creatures, and I sense God revealing to me His own tender desire for me to hunger for Him like that too.
There have been times in my life where my relationship with God has been vibrant. Each day has felt like an adventure as I have walked with Him and allowed Him to guide me throughout the day. I have hungered for His Word throughout those times, coming to it several times daily to be fed and finding treasure within it as I have read—passages and verses that have been so timely and have made me realize all the more how truly alive His Word is. But I am sadly not in one of those times. Much of my Bible reading as of late has consisted of me trying to catch up on the daily reading plan that I committed to doing at the beginning of this year, and in my eagerness to get back on track, I haven’t been fully taking in what I have been reading. I have merely been going through the motions more often than not.
Yet I go to the river and God invites me to turn my heart to Him again. I sense how much He yearns for me to truly seek Him. To truly know His heart. To delve deeper into His Word and my relationship with Him. To experience the same vibrancy and sense of adventure that I once had.
Recently, as I was reading through Isaiah, my eyes rested on a verse that came to be such a vital part of the transformative work that God was doing in my life over ten years ago.
At the time, I was struggling to understand my value and trying to find it in undeserving places. And the more I tried to gain a sense of worth in those areas, the more I realized how much work it was to maintain a certain sense of significance in those aspects. I was always going to have to strive to find my worth in those things. In many ways, I was doing exactly what the Israelites had done that God spoke of through the prophet Jeremiah.
For my people have committed two evils:Jeremiah 2:13 ESV
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
The things in which I was trying to place my value were exactly the same. Cisterns that could never hold water but that I kept trying to refill anyway. But God used the following verse to reveal to me how frivolous my striving was:
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,Isaiah 55:2 ESV
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?”
He was helping me to see how Jesus was the Bread of Life during that time and to recognize how I would never be satisfied unless I came to Him with my needs. With my hunger.
Today, as I think of these things, I have to wonder what I have been going to in my own hunger as of late. If we get to a point in our relationship with God where we are not hungering after His Word, then can’t we assume that we are trying to fill our spiritual hunger elsewhere?
I haven’t given this question a whole lot of thought as of yet. I honestly am just processing these things in the moment as I write. But I want to think about all of this more. I want God to reveal to me the broken cisterns to which I have been running and to show me what I have been spending my “money” on that is not bread. But even more so, I just want Him to give me a renewed desire for Him—the Living Water and the Bread of Life. And I know that He will, because He has been calling me to that all along, using His creation in such simple ways to speak clearly to me in that regard.
In my most intimate moments with Jesus, I have been able to declare, much like the Psalmist, that His love is better than life. I’m so thankful for His faithfulness to me and how He continues to draw me back to moments like that. May I—may we—never take His working in our lives for granted. May we truly draw closer to Him each day and pray for a renewed desire for Him and His Word when our hearts start to turn cold. And may we truly be able to declare with our lives that God’s steadfast love is better than life itself, now and for all of our days.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”Psalm 63:3 ESV