“Too much of our time is spent trying to chart God on a grid, and too little is spent allowing our hearts to feel awe. By reducing Christian spirituality to formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder.” Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, p. 205
In our longing to know God and walk in his ways, most of us have followed some kind of prescribed formula for spiritual success. We believe the right doctrines, live upright lives, been faithful in ministry and attend church consistently and we think that is enough. Yet, in the end, our spiritual life leaves us empty and exhausted instead of energized. And we feel gypped.
In reducing the abundant life to external ritual and observance, we miss the point when Jesus said, “I have come to give you life.” Like the religious elite of Jesus’ day, we think it’s up to us. The life of ought and duty and service, was what mattered, they argued. If the system isn’t working, it’s because we’re not doing it right. There’s always something to work on, with the promise of abundant life just around the corner. “You’re dead wrong,” Jesus said. “In fact, you’re just plain dead [whitewashed tombs]. What God cares about is the inner life, the life of the heart” (Matt. 23:25–28).
I think this is what Jeremiah meant when he wrote in Jeremiah 2:13, “…They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Emphasis mine.) My soul is screaming, “Water! Water!” And what do I do? I grab the shovel of “self-effort” thinking I can stave off my thirst. Have you found it to be true that in the end, your efforts come up empty as well? Who are we trying to kid? Jesus is the living water we so desperately need. Why do we settle for less? I love what Galatians 5:5 says, “But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope” (Emphasis mine). This abundant, full life…his very presence in us…is what we have longed and hoped for. Wonder of all wonders.