There’s an old Zen story that reads: A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him. “Master, I wish to become your disciple,” said the man. “Why?” replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment. “Because I want to find God.”
The master jumped up, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the river, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river. The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath. When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke. “Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water.”
“Air!” answered the man.
“Very well,” said the master. “Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air.”
(From “Zen Stories To Tell Your Neighbors”)
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. (Acts 17:27, KJV)
“The comparison of intimacy to breath is important because it reminds us of the first breath of life breathed into mankind by God at creation. From that singular moment, we find the spark of life – that which gives it meaning, purpose, and creativity. The word for “breath” used in Genesis 2:7 is “neshamah,” which literally means “breath, spirit.”FF It refers to both the Spirit of God and the spirit living in man. This tells us that the spirit which animates our life comes from God, and is a powerful connection between us and God, and us and other human beings. Our very breath is a reminder of soul and spirit, of something that connects us to God from the very beginning. From that first moment of true intimacy between God and humanity, we find a key purpose of intimacy: life. Intimacy is a life-force that envelops, encompasses, surrounds, and is ever-with us. Intimacy has a purpose, and that purpose is life, as we find a unity of people together, and people with God. As the result of intimacy, life comes forth: natural, physical, spiritual, and an extension of the spiritual, creativity. Intimacy inspires us; it inspires us to live, just knowing that connection exists that transcends something in the natural. Intimacy proves life is more than what we may muse intellectually. It is also a sensory and spiritual experience that has profound meaning as we pursue intimacy in trust in our lives. If we deny that experience, we are denying a primary way we experience intimacy, and come into a place where we find the deeper discovery of God at work within, through, among, and around us.” – From Discovering The Beauty of Intimacy: Studies in the Song of Solomon, by Dr. Lee Ann B. Marino
A few events of recent are causing me to look around and look at the church differently than I have in years past. This is the last thing in the world that I needed, or so we would think that I needed. It’s no secret I already have a love/hate relationship with the church. I look around at the ridiculous ruins that we call “church” and “believers” and I shake my head. I have plenty of days where I cry over the state of the church, only to find myself upset and angered by something later. It’s not an unrighteous anger. I cannot believe what people get away with today – or maybe more aptly I should say, what they try to get away with. It is so rampant, it scares me. I have realized that the church today as a whole is using God as a forum to pursue a certain lifestyle. Yes, the whole prosperity mess is in here, too, but it’s not just the prosperity preachers who are doing it. Whether you watch television shows about large, extended families who insist they do not use birth control because they think it’s wrong and promote excessive parental control over their children, or you hear about the people who come for deliverance but want to barter or bargain about what exactly it is they are going to do or give up, or the vast numbers of people who don’t actually pray, but cast spells through their prayers, it seems like everyone’s got an agenda for and with God. Instead of seeking God – instead of seeking Him earnestly for Who He is – people want God to further their own agendas.
So I ask you the question: how much do you want God? Like the man in the story above, do you want God as much as you want air? Do you want God more than anything and everything else in your life? Or do you just put on the front about wanting God because you have something else you want more, something you are seeking to achieve through Him? Sure, we say we want God – but how many of us could go through a test, being held underwater until we struggle, and then come up, saying we truly want God? How many of us would love God enough to trust Him if time goes on and we don’t get the healing, deliverance, thoughts, feelings, things, etc. that we seek? Would we still believe, or would it become about something else – would we turn on God?
I believe the prevalence of witchcraft (through rebellion, magic, spell casting, and manipulation) is prevalent in the church today because we want what we want when we want it and we are failing to have the relationship with God that we need to have in order to bring about a transformation in our lives. We want God to “fix us” so we never have to hurt again or feel uncomfortable – but we forget that with deliverance often comes discomfort as we readjust ourselves. If we aren’t seeking God like we need to, we will find something new to be delivered from. No longer can we use our ailments, bondages, and spirits to our advantage (to control and manipulate other people).
In deliverance, we don’t just confront what happened to us, we also confront who we are and how we have used our bondages for our own personal spells and witchcrafts: to make people feel sorry for us; to claim that people do not understand as an excuse to hold on to things we know we must let go of; to justify ourselves through fear and intimidation (which is why people stay in a fearful place); to control the behaviors of other people (because they feel they have to be sensitive or understanding when they are around us); to intimate others with our hairline trigger emotions, be those anger, hysteria, or sorrow; and, perhaps, above all – to avoid being accountable and responsible.
In my life, I have dealt with the following: being a battered woman, abuse, clinical and bipolar depression, suicide, abandonment, rejection, rebellion, spirits of perversion knocking on my door, borderline rape and molestation (I’m not going to elaborate), chronic illness, physical pain almost daily since I was 16 years old, sexism, rejection from my own churches, not fitting in anywhere, not ever feeling particularly loved or cared about by people on a personal level, a former relationship that haunted me for nearly ten years after it was over, and many other things that have haunted me in my life. When I came to God, I was over 200 pounds, unable to drive, I was told that I would probably reach a point where I was unable to walk, and to be told all this at the age I was at the time was terrifying. When I finally got saved for real, when I finally went down in baptism and came up in Christ, I wanted God. I didn’t even ask God to heal me at that point in time. I have always believed He could, but I didn’t ask Him to. In those days, we didn’t have Facebook for me to go run to so I could harass person after person, asking for a “word.” What I asked Him to do was show me His face. As He has healed me and delivered me, He made me confront myself. I had to look at what parts of this I was holding onto because I found a way to use those hurts, those spirits, those things to defend myself. We use those different walls, emotions, and actions to keep ourselves where we are, and keep God – and His ways – out.
So, you say you want to be delivered? You want to be healed? You want to be “set free?” Here is some food for thought:
You need to want God more than you don’t want to hurt anymore.
You need to want God more than you want deliverance.
You need to want God more than you want a husband/wife.
You need to want God more than all that “stuff” you seek (houses, money, cars, etc.).
You need to want God more than you want to “feel good.”
You need to want God more than you want your healing.
You need to want God more than you want what you want.
There’s a radical difference between being truly desperate for God Himself – longing to know Him, be in communion with Him, walk with Him, and love Him – than being desperate for the things He can give you. The intimacy God speaks with us is as near as our breath; as near as our life, as near as the air we seek as when we are without oxygen. Many years ago, Juanita Bynum made a statement to the extent that we need to stop loving Jesus and be in love with Jesus. She clarified the difference – loving Jesus means you believe Him to pay your light bill. Being in love with Jesus means you will sit there and praise Him in the dark.
Some of you want to know why you’re not getting what you seek?
You are seeking it more than God. It is an idol.
When you want God as much as you want and what you seek, come back and talk to me.
(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.