Thinking Out Loud

October 15, 2011

Craving More of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Last weekend we were on a retreat at a Christian camp, and I suddenly had this strong desire to take off my clothes.

We’ll get to that in a minute, but first something completely different…

“Some of you have had to have a medical procedure where you’re told that 24 hours beforehand you’re to stop eating solid food.  You may be a light eater generally, but once you’re told that can’t eat something, you find yourself really craving it.

“Then, they might tell you that for the last three hours prior to the procedure, you’re not to drink anything, either.  You’ve probably gone longer without quenching your thirst, but once you reach that no drink  stage, you suddenly find yourself aching for something in the beverage category.

“But the real kicker is when, five minutes before the procedure, they ask you stop breathing…”

And with that, several years ago, I introduced the song “Breathe” by the group Passion, reminding our church that while the first two situations — being denied food and drink — are achievable in the short term, we all need to breathe.  (Actually, Need to Breathe would be a great name for a band.)  We simply can’t live without oxygen, and so also we should be hungry and thirsty for God.

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence
Living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word
Spoken to me

And I, I’m desperate for You
And I, I’m lost without You

I relate this because this week we were at a Christian camp, and if you’ve ever been on the grounds of a Christian retreat or conference facility, you know there’s an unwritten rule that if you’re a guy, unless you’re swimming, skiing, windsurfing or water skiing, you’re supposed to keep your shirt on.

But Ontario experienced record high temperatures on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, with temperatures hovering close to 30 ° Celsius all three days, which for our metricly challenged American friends is around 78 ° Fahrenheit.  Beautiful sunshine.  No black flies, mosquitoes or bees.  No humidity. Reduced risk of sunburn in October.

I was craving maximum sunlight.  So I climbed up a hill to what the kids call “the mountain” and doffed my t-shirt and stretched out on a rock in nothing but shorts and let the sunshine vitamin soak in; in the process becoming a human solar panel, absorbing the rays at just the right angle.

And I started thinking about the warmth of God’s Spirit that we’re supposed to experience as part of what the Bible considers normal Christian living.

the warmth = the comfort of God’s spirit
the sunshine = the spiritual ‘nutritional benefit’ of God’s presence 

In a previous century, the songwriter talked about “Heavenly sunshine, flooding my soul with glory divine.” We express things differently today, but the principle is the same; food, drink, oxygen, the light of the sun; all these analogies in nature exist to remind us of our need for God.  A craving that is intended to be natural.

Just like a deer that craves
streams of water,
my whole being craves you, God.

Common English Bible Psalm 42:1

But none of this would have struck me, and my Vitamin D fix would not have been fulfilling had I not first climbed the mountain… but we wouldn’t want to add another metaphor, would we? 

In our culture, we really don’t know what it is to be physically hungry or thirsty.  There’s always a snack bar just around the corner.  Do we know what it means to truly be spiritually hungry? Have you ever experienced true spiritual hunger or thirst?

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6 Comments »

  1. http://www.needtobreathe.net/ christian rock band. actually a pretty decent seller in my store :)

    Comment by Rae-Anne Guedes — October 15, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

    • Wow. Really? Who would have guessed? ;-)

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 15, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  2. Rae-Anne beat me to it, but Needtobreathe is a great band that is actually been on tour over the last few months opening for Taylor Swift. They’re kind of a Southern Rock style. They were on the Tonight Show a few weeks back as well.

    By the way, “Breathe” was written by Marie Barnett in 1995 and it was really Vineyard that popularized it. Passion picked it up on one of there CD “One Day Live” in 2000. Michael W. Smith did it on his “Worship” CD in 2001 as have LOTS of other artists.

    Comment by Murray Lahn — October 16, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

    • I’ll accept the correction on “Breathe;” but as to the other item, c’mon people, “…would be a great name for a band” is the recurring line of humorist Dave Barry; though I’ll grant you he doesn’t use the line with actual bands that actually exist, but I thought people would get the Dave Barry reference first and foremost.

      We carry — and always have carried — Needtobreathe’s music in the little store where I work part time.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 16, 2011 @ 8:24 pm

      • Sorry. Didn’t know that about Dave Barry.

        Comment by Murray Lahn — October 16, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

  3. Challenging . . . . .

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — October 17, 2011 @ 5:44 pm


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