"The only people in Oklahoma who are actually afraid of tornadoes are the ones who just moved there. Everyone who lives there already is so used to them, they don't even bother to worry." [a quote from a sweet friend of mine]
That is crazy to me. A tornado, a humungous whirlwind of destruction, and yet somehow we can just get used to it. Like its no big deal.
That happens with other things too though... I have been evacuated a couple of times at 4am because of forest fires that came near to our house, and now where the thought of a fire kind of excites me, but I am not phased like I was before. People who live in Colorado Springs aren't stricken with awe when they see Pikes Peak, natives of Hawaii are less likely to recognize the splendor of a beach sunset, and those that have grown up with snow will likely overlook the current downfall because they have seen it all before.
I have been noticing recently that as people, we have a strange ability to get used to things that are amazing, wonderful, & awesome.. even things that we have dreamed of for years and years become mundane if we let them.
I hate it. It can happen in the greatest of relationships. Marriages dissolves because of this, adultery looks appealing, jobs are quit, drugs are introduced, drinking becomes habit, addictions overtake us, and pretty soon we become slaves to meaningless things because we just want to feel some sort of pleasure that will keep us going.
The Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well in John 4 understands this feeling. In verse 18 Jesus says, "..The fact is, you have had 5 husbands, and the man you have now is not your husband.." I relate to her so much, in her seeking of fulfillment from guys. Without the grace of God and the help from people who love me, I could easily be someone who gives myself over to lust. (But praise God, I am a faithful wife and I adore my husband! Hooray!!) This woman was fulfilled in her marriage for awhile, something happened.. perhaps just time happened, and as those feelings of excitement grew dim she looked to someone else to satisfy her need to feel "filled". She thirsts, as we all do, to feel satisfied. Jesus in His perfect mercy comes to her, He meets her in the middle of her daily chores and invites her to satisfaction in verse 14, "But whoever drinks the water I give [her] will never thirst. Indeed the water I give [her] will become in [her] a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Only God can offer satisfaction that will keep us filled.
But as I grow in the Lord, and continue my walk with Him, I relate to my friend from Oklahoma at the beginning of this blog who isn't phased by a tornado... even though God is huge, majestic, and powerful, I am capable of living without being phased by His presence, simply because I feel like He is so familiar.
That can happen with my sweet husband too. Actually I will give you an illustration of how it works. So last week we were taking an afternoon nap together and I was resting in his arms. (this doesn't happen often so we enjoyed it very much) But we were there for so long that I couldn't feel his hand in mine anymore because I had basically gone numb. In order to see if Shaun's hand was still there I pulled away from him, then immediately he woke up a bit and grabbed my hand back in his. Then I felt it again and the numbness went away.
In that moment I understood life a little more- because if I had not made an effort to feel Shaun's touch on my hand, I could have allowed my mind to wander to a place of literally desiring someone's touch, yet the whole time I would be ignoring the wonderful touch from the best man I could have ever asked for. It's absurd and yet it is reality.
There will be times in our relationship with God when we will have been resting in His perfect love for so long we may actually "go numb". We stop "feeling it" and start treating His presence as normal, so then we stop being satisfied and may consider seeking fulfillment elsewhere. Is there any way to avoid this? Ah I wish there was, but at least based on my own personal experience, this is not the case. However we can learn how to live so that it doesn't get the best of us. We can be equipped in such a way that no matter how long we have been doing something, or have been in a relationship, or have lived somewhere, or experienced something... we won’t sacrifice our character for a "feeling" of satisfaction.
That will look different for all of us but I think we would be wise to look for ways to keep things new and fresh and wonderful. We "go numb" when we get into a pattern of something and aren't intentional about keeping the love alive.
It is important to note that the feeling of love is NOT love. It is wonderful but it is not love. Love is deeper than a feeling. If a relationship is only built on a feeling of love then there is a little chance that the relationship will last. Our emotions are often unreliable and if they are given too much weight they can easily lead us into sin.
God is enormous and eternal. No matter what we have seen of Him, or experienced of Him, it is only a teeny tiny sliver of what there is of Him. That is so encouraging. There is always more of God for us. How do we receive more? We seek more. Just as we do when we are trying to maintain a passionate marriage or a deep friendship- we spend time together, we talk, we learn about each other, we listen, we serve, we treat each other as better than ourselves, and we pursue each other’s company. In sustaining intimacy with God it is vital to be praying and spending time reading the Bible, we can’t expect relationship with Jesus without putting in the time to understand His heart.
Christianity was never supposed to be about Sunday mornings. Being a lover of Christ is a life commitment, it consumes us, and the residue of it is to be seen in every part of our lives. Even when we feel weak, dry, numb, or like we just don’t have the strength to continue on, He will be there to carry us if we just surrender to His faithful love. It is not primarily a faith, it is a life. A beautifully satisfying life.