I am a life group leader at my church for a group of Sophmore girls that I simply adore! They hold an increasingly larger piece of my heart and this weekend my respect and delight in them reached an entirely new level. This summer at Hume Lake several of them expressed to me a strong desire to take their personal lives and our life group, as a whole, to a deeper place than its ever been. Several of them took risks of honesty and vulnerability within the four walls of our cabin that blew me away and made me so proud! I felt richly blessed to be given the opportunity to watch God work in their lives and so honored to have Him use me in such a beautiful process. It was after coming home from Hume that week that I made a commitment to God to stick with my girls all the way through their high school experience. With graduation coming this May, I knew that my future had a lot of question marks and that it most likely includes some long term adventures outside of California, but I decided that whatever that may be, it will have to wait till' after they graduate.
At first this seemed like a bit of a sacrifice, because I had been thinking about going to grad school in either the NW or somewhere on the East Coast, but I am slowing seeing that this is much more of a blessing than a sacrifice! My conversations with them, both in one-on-ones and in group settings are blowing me away! This past weekend in particular made me so grateful for their presence in my life. They decided a few months back that they wanted something outside of our "at church" small group time to get together and dig deeper into what God has for them. We decided to start a once a month life group dinner at one of their homes and go through a book together. No one had any book in particular that they wanted to go through, so I got to choose the book... which wasn't hard : ) I chose one of my favorites, by an author that I get soooo pumped about! His name is A.W. Tozer and the book is "The Pursuit of God." I knew that it would be a bit challenging and possibly overwhelming at first, because he uses a lot of big words and the New King James version of the Bible, but his insight is INCREDIBLE! Sometimes you have to read over a single line about 10 times, before you can grasp what he is saying, but it is soooo rich and soooo worth it!
Anyway, we had our first dinner this past Sunday and it went really well! We only got through the first 2 pages of the book, but it was exciting to see everyone discussing and contemplating and looking things up that they weren't sure about. One thing in particular that I took a mental polaroid of was our conversation about Psalm 42:1-2.
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God."
Tozer describes this verse in saying that, "This is deep calling unto deep, and the longing heart will understand it." Previous to reading this portion, Tozer had been talking about how we only pursue God because he first put that desire for pursuit in our heart, but in order to strengthen that desire we must respond to the Holy Spirit in further pursuit, so that the desire becomes entirely captivating. In the midst of this pursuit we also must be aware that we do not get that captivating desire for a deeper relationship by simply one encounter, but rather by a learned habit of spiritual response that continually keeps us drenched in his presence. It is at this point that we experience deep calling unto deep.
When we got to this line in the book everyone looked a little confused and one of my girls said, "what the heck is deep calling unto deep?" to which another one of my girls replied "I'm not sure, but I think... maybe... its when the very deepest part of us is crying out for the deepest part of God." Yes! I was so happy, I wanted to cry! I love these girs : ) It's that feeling you get when you've experienced something so great with God that you don't want to ever have anything less! It's the very deepest part of mankind that only God can reach, reaching God in a way that is deeper than we can and will ever reach with a person. It's DEEP calling unto DEEP! It even brings more sense to the natural desire for progression in human nature. Whether we have a relationship with God or not, we were still created in His image with the means necessary to have a deep relationship with Him. So when we experience great things in the world we have a natural reaction to want more and better! It's not initially a matter of being selfish or greedy, but rather taking that part of us that was designed to dig progressively deeper into our relationship with God and trying to fill it with material pish-posh. It makes sense that we can never get enough, because we were divinely given that desire for more and we will never find something great enough in this world to satisfy that endless abyss of a need for an intimate relationship with our Creator. It also explains why relationships and intimacy seem to be more valuable to people than possessions, but are still not enough to satisfy! This deep calling unto deep experience is what the heart was made for, which is why Tozer talks about only the longing heart being able to understand it.
One of my favorite quotes from chapter one is when Tozer talks about the great blessing of the long wait in seeking after God sometimes. He says, "Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking." I want that desire! I want the sweetness that comes with the long seeking! My heart longs for this kind of longing! Show me thy glory Lord. Grant me the grace I need today to seek after You and bring You glory!