Noah interviews his friend and mentor Kevin Butcher about his new book Free (available April 6th).
I think one of our greatest shortcomings as Christians today is left-brained knowledge of God without right-brained experience of God’s loving presence. That when my heart is longing for the faux and fleeting feeling that “just one more thing” can give me–one more purchase…one more flirtation…one more TV episode…one more experience–that instead of gratifying this empty desire, I can instead stop and gaze upon God’s beauty. I can instead sit in God’s presence. I can gaze upon his face smiling down on me (Numbers 6:24-26). I can seek his face. That his loving and majestic face is the answer to my heart’s longing.
In our loneliness and anguish, we can come back to the gospel. We can be reminded of God’s amazing grace, mercy, and love toward us. We can ask God to pour more of his grace, mercy, and love on to us. Asking him to help us experience these truths more fully in the midst of the anguish we are in.
This is a perfect picture of the alcoholic, so thirsty for a drink that satisfies, yet never does. Barbossa’s plight always reminded me of my previous porn addiction: wanting something that satisfied, but always being left empty. Tasting the wine in my mouth, but it emptying out onto my feet. The only way to keep the wine inside of me was to keep drinking more and more and more of it. Our culture feeds us this lie about sex all the time, with people having sex before marriage with regularly, yet continuing to come up empty, in loneliness and despair, masking it all by chasing the next hit with even more abandon than the last. In the Pirates clip, the crew-mates reaction to Barbossa’s wine is telling. They are all staring silently at what is one of the most tragic sights imaginable, then when he looks at them they all laugh as loud as they can! If they can make his tragedy cool and popular and desirable and normal, it will mask how sunk they really are.
One of the most healthy spiritual disciplines for me is to regularly sit before a holy God during my prayer time. I use Exodus 9:9-25 and visualize myself sitting on the holy mountain as one of those original Israelites. I try to feel the emotion that comes with trying to comprehend the vast chasm between God’s holiness and my sinfulness. Then I turn my prayer and meditation time toward Colossians 1:22, Romans 8:15-17, and Matthew 3:16-17. The chasm of separation between me and God gets filled as the floodgates of Jesus’ love, grace, and mercy open. I can only unlock the riches of this gift if I first walk the path of understanding how much I don’t deserve it. When I begin to comprehend that I don’t deserve it, I can begin to experience how beautiful and amazing it is that I get to have it.
Verse 1 implies that God has not been answering the psalmist’s prayer. I love the honesty we can go to God with. The psalmist is basically saying, “Hey God! Answer me! I know you can! But you haven’t been! I am suffering! I am struggling! Have mercy on me! Hear my prayer!” With full use of exclamation points in the emotion behind this prayer.