by Fred Carpenter
Step 1 – Be Dissatisfied with your Present Experience & Believe it is Possible to Experience More.
A. Are you thirsty for God’s love?
i. In his sermon, “Heaven Is a World of Love,” Jonathan Edwards described God’s love in this way, “The Apostle tells us that God is love, 1 John 4:8. And therefore seeing he is an infinite Being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient Being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing and an inexhaustible fountain of love. Seeing he is an unchangeable and eternal Being, he is an unchangeable and eternal source of love….There in heaven, this fountain of love, this eternal three in one, is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it. There this glorious God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love; there the fountain overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love. (The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, 245)
Romans 5:5 tells us that God’s love has been “poured into our hearts.” The Weymouth translation of the New Testament reads, “God’s love for us floods our hearts.”
The more you learn about God’s love, what others like Jonathan Edwards describe and what the Bible says, the more you may begin to realize that your experience may fall short of those descriptions. Do you experience the flood of God’s love in your heart as described in Romans 5:5 and by Jonathan Edwards? Are you thirsty for God’s love? If you are not thirsty you will not have a need to drink from the amazing fountain of God’s love.
ii. In his book, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Don Whitney discusses something very relevant to our topic . . . 3 types of thirst in the human soul.
The Thirst of the Empty Soul
The soul of the unbeliever is empty towards the things of God. It thirsts, but not for God or His love. It seeks the things of the world to satisfy the thirst that only God can satisfy. This soul must be quickened and born again (John 3:3) by the Spirit of God before it will thirst for the love of God.
The Thirst of the Dry Soul
The second type of spiritual thirst is the thirst of the dry soul. It is known only by those who believe, those who are alive to God. It is not necessarily the result of wandering away from God, but it is a place of spiritual dryness.
The thirst of a dry soul can be the result of drinking too deeply from the fountains of the world and too little from the river of God. It is possible to fill our souls with many things, and leave little room for God. If we fill our hearts with worldly affections, we may leave little room for the love of God.
The thirst of a dry soul can also result from what the Puritans referred to as “God’s desertions.” There are times in life when God’s presence is very real to us and other times where we feel as though He is not to be found. Yet this is only our perceptions. In truth, God will never abandon or forsake His children (Hebrews 13:5) and nothing can ever really separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38). God allows these times for a purpose. These time are often, in the hand of our loving Father, a tool to get our attention and draw us into even deeper intimacy with Him.
And finally, dryness in the soul of a believer can result from mental, emotional or physical fatigue in a life that is out of balance. The cares and worries of this world can result in burn-out, choking out the good seed God has lovingly planted in a human heart (Matthew 13:22.)
The dry soul of a believer actually thirsts for God and His love. This soul has tasted and seen that God is good, and wants to be refreshed in Him. And though the “dark night” of this soul may seem too long, God’s timing is always perfect and He is always faithful to give His children what they need, when they need it!
The Thirst of the Satisfied Soul
The final type of spiritual thirst is the thirst of the satisfied soul. The satisfied soul desires God precisely because he finds God and His love so satisfying!
Thomas Shepard wrote, “There is in true grace an infinite circle; a man by thirsting receives, and receiving thirsts for more.” This is not a cycle of frustration, where we continually lament that we do not know more, but a cycle of satisfaction and earnest desire.
A.W. Tozer. “O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.”
B. Do you believe it is possible to experience God’s love in a fuller, more consistent way?
i. In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer says, “We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him…In the midst of this great chill, there are some who will not be content with shallow logic. They want to taste, to touch with their hearts the wonder that is God. I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God.”
ii. I pity the soul that does not believe it is possible to experience more of God’s love. John Piper makes the case that the outpouring of God’s love is an actual experience, not just a historical fact. To explore this message, visit – https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-to-experience-the-outpouring-of-god-s-love.
If one believes it is not really possible to experience God’s love, then that attitude will become for that person, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Do you want to experience God’s love more fully and consistently? If so, then take the first step. Become dissatisfied with your present experience & believe it is possible to experience more. And watch for Step 2 in our next devotional!