A Rabid Fundamentalist Column
John W. Cowart
On Monday, my mail box contained a Mr. Bubble bath sponge for my little girl, a Victoria's Secret spring lingerie catalogue for my curvaceous young wife, and a senior citizens' newsletter for me.
Guess which one I looked at first.
My wife says I have reached that awkward age -- Again.
All my life, both physically and spiritually, I've always been at an awkward age. Haven't you?
By awkward age, I mean those times and conditions when we hunger for different, almost opposite levels of maturity -- like the Christmas when one of my sons wanted both a teddy bear and a Rambo rifle, and one of my teenage daughters wanted both high heels and a skateboard.
I think we all hunger or yearn for something higher and something lower at the same time.
As a fundamentalist Christian, I believe that how we respond to our hungers and which of our desires we seek to satisfy says a lot about our eternal happiness -- or lack of it.
In his Confessions the great Catholic theologian St. Augustine speaks of a God-shaped niche in the human soul where nothing less than God fits. I picture this niche as a vacuum inside us, like a black hole in space, which can be filled to capacity by the Infinite but which sucks in everything else and still remains empty.
A vacuum demands filling.
Some theologians say that our hunger for God is an indicator of His existence.
You feel thirsty. That means that somewhere water exists to satisfy that thirst. It does not necessarily mean you will taste that water, some poor folks do perish of thirst, but it does mean that such a thing as water does exist.
You feel hungry; that means that somewhere food exists to satisfy that hunger.
You feel horny; that means sex does exist.
You feel cold; that means heat exists.
You feel a desire for God; that means…
Does wanting God mean that He exists?
Maybe so. Maybe no.
But wouldn’t it be odd to yearn for, to long for, to desire strongly something that does not even exist?
And we do have a heart hunger.
We do yearn for Something.
Even when we are little kids we feel this desire, this emptiness of the soul and we hunger to fill it. I remember laying awake at night on the sofa where I slept and thinking about GOD, big and huge (to my five year old mind there was a distinction); Sweet, so sweet as to be hugged and hugged and hugged; yet Scary too, the awesomeness of the Creator being totally foreign to all created things.
I tried to describe my feelings to my mother, she thought I was trying to talk about Billie Michelle, the little girl who lived next door.
"Puppy love," Mama said. "Isn't that cute. Johnny's got puppy love".
Gurrrr! How do you write a five-year-old boy's snarl? No way did I love Billie Michelle. She was a GIRL, for Heaven's sake.
If the gnawing heart hunger meant puppy love, then who needs it!
I think this same dynamic works again and again in everyone's life.
When we were young people and sought the meaning of existence, then the world, the flesh and the devil dismissed our yearning as adolescent growing pains. We hungered for eternity and they said it was just hormones flowing. The wise voices teased that we were only hungry for sex. You need a woman; you need a man, they said.
To a young man, the wise voices whisper, you hunger for success. Advance in the company. Get trappings: lear jet, board membership, gold card. Success is what you want.
As we mature, the voice of the world, the flesh and the devil says, "What you are hungry for is security. Buy bonds. Get a home. An insurance policy is what you need. Security will make the hunger pangs go away".
But the deep heart hunger of the soul never ceases.
When we sprout white hair, yet still know that heart-longing ache for Something -- or Someone, then the devil taunts, "You silly old fool! You're just longing for your lost youth".
Thus many of us are tricked into never getting the one thing we want most desperately. And we die just as we lived -- at an awkward age, desiring the eternal but settling for gutter glitter.
But there is hope even for such awkward folks as us.
Look at this:
King David, the slayer of giant Goliath, the sweet psalmist of Israel, a man of wealth, power and position, a man who had all this world had to offer, also understood the same heart-hunger that you and I know.
In his Psalms he talks about it again and again:
"As the hart deer panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God," he said (Psalm 42:1).
"The Lord upholdeth all that fall and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing," Psalm 145:14
"The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him...He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and save them," Psalm 145: 19
"I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land, " Psalm 143:6).
If even the king panted, hungered and thirsted, if he longed and desired and yearned for God, surely the whole thing is much too complex for such as us who merely feel vague whims toward an undefined something better now and them.
We tend to make godly living into a complex worm's nest of worry. That ain't the way it works.
King David taught his readers how to focus and find joy in a way that's simple yet profound:
He said, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart," (Psalm 37:3)
Think of that!
The desire of your heart.
The single thing you've hungered for most all of your life is right at your fingertips.
How utterly wonderful!
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