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Hungering and Thirsting for God: Longing for GodHungering and Thirsting for God: Longing for God
by Mike Cope

Instead of craving a vibrant relationship with the God who made us, we settle for a house, a family, a few friends, a job, a TV and DVD, and a yearly vacation. We think we can survive with this and just a bit of religion. Yet our souls starve!

    People who are trying to fill their hunger for love, acceptance, and security in relationships, material possessions, or even success will never find real or lasting satisfaction. Their hunger is not a mere physical or emotional hunger. It is a holy hunger — a hunger from God and for God. Some may not know they long for him because they don’t know him. Some don’t seek him because they don’t know where or how to look. Others are looking for God, but they aren’t sure what he “looks like.”

    For a couple of years in the early 1990s, the New York Times Bestseller List included picture books starring a funny little man named Waldo. In Where’s Waldo? and its sequels the object is to find the little guy amidst all the other people and objects. Sometimes he blends into the background, while at other times he “hides” in the foreground. Waldo is easily recognizable because he has specific physical characteristics that never change. However, clutter and things around him often obscure and confuse the reader’s vision. Though a reader may sometimes give up, assuming there was a trick page that omits Waldo just to drive you crazy, he’s there every time.

    That’s Scripture’s testimony about God — he is there every time. Sometimes God is so present you can’t miss him — like when he brought fire down on the altar at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. But at other times he seems hidden — as when he was present in the whisper in 1 Kings 19. Even when he’s silent, however, he is not absent.

It is a holy hunger — a hunger from God and for God.
    Let’s return to Scripture and hear God’s testimony about himself. The Bible is a thrilling story of a God who cannot possibly be fully understood but who nevertheless invites us to share his life. Since our minds are so limited in understanding this Eternal One, God has offered metaphors and descriptions that permit us to catch a glimpse of his Being.

The Ultimate Battle

    What if we really believed that our greatest challenge is to respond to the God who has continually sought us? How would it change how we deal with all the other challenges we face?

Imagine what would happen if parents were less concerned about keeping their kids off drugs and more concerned with entering their children’s battles to know God. What would it be like if pastors worried less about whether their people were having affairs and more about whether they worshiped? Picture a relationship between friends that dealt less with their financial and romantic problems and more with whether they were experiencing God. The results, I suspect, would likely include fewer kids on drugs, fewer affairs, and fewer nervous breakdowns and failed marriages.
— Larry Crabb, Connecting: A Radical New Vision (Nashville: Word, 1997), 151.

    Perhaps for some people the source of their relational problems comes not from investing too little in the relationships but from trying to place an unfair burden on them — trying to make them offer happiness, peace, security, and life. Ironically, when we free ourselves from depending on others for true life, we are then free to love them unconditionally.

Don’t Wait Outside

    A doorman at a Broadway theater was asked if, during his nineteen years there, he enjoyed the shows that had come through. His answer was startling: he hadn’t been interested, so he’d never gone in where the performance was.

    How long have you been just outside the door that God has opened for you? How long have you tried to quench your thirst with brackish water or satisfy your hunger with worthless junk food? All we have to do is open the door and let God strengthen us:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
    - Psalm 73:25,26

O God, I have tasted thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
— A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1982).

This is Part 4 of a series.
(click here for Part 1, click here for Part 2, click here for Part 3).
      © 2001, Mike Cope. Excerpted from One Holy Hunger, HillCrest Publishing, 2001. Used by permission.
      Title: "Hungering and Thirsting for God: Longing for God"
      Author: Mike Cope
      Publication Date: April 21, 2001

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Mike Cope is a minister in Abilene, Texas and one of our favorite writers.


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