A Hunger that can Only be Filled by God
Contemplation is all about dying to self in ways the average Christian isn’t necessarily called to. Only the crucified are truly alive—this is a truth that all Christians should experience to some degree; it’s a big part of what being a follower of Jesus means. But as I said before, contemplation involves forms of surrender to God that you can’t do on your own. If you think the flesh will just roll over and die for you, think again. We call the contemplative journey a path, but it’s really a very wild experience, more like signing up for a roller coaster ride that will last you the rest of your life. Committing to it is like that old bumper sticker: get in, sit down, shut up, and hang on.
But maybe you have come to the place in life where, despite all the blessings you’ve received, you really want more of God than what you’ve experienced; there’s a hunger that can’t be filled by Christian music or Bible reading or anything else. And perhaps you have started to recognize that maybe that’s not a lack of thankfulness, but that it’s God himself stirring up that deeper longing in you, spurring you on to find a greater depth in your relationship than you’ve seen before. Worship, prayer, and other spiritual activities can bring you to a point of closeness to God, but they leave you at God’s doorstep, which still feels much too far away from him. And you begin to realize there’s a difference between the things of God, and God himself. You cry out, God, I want more! And the more you get, the less satisfying it is, and you start to realize it’s not more things or even more blessings; there’s a hunger that nothing but God himself can fill; nothing but more of God will do. And again, you may recognize that this desire is coming, not from you, but from the Spirit of God.
That’s exactly the place many throughout history have come to: a deep spiritual hunger. And at some point very early in history, perhaps centuries before Christ, something happened. Someone was perhaps meditating on what it means to wait on God, and realized something profoundly powerful. They found that they could just sit in God’s presence and direct their longing to him, ignoring all sensory input and their own thoughts, desires and feelings—and something happened deep within. They couldn’t quite put it into words, but they knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was from God. And they discovered that if they did this on a regular basis, God changed them.
Book excerpt from Contemplation: Only the Crucified are Truly Alive
Gary Michael Hassig
From the Preface, pp. 13-14