I felt incredibly silly as I pulled out a stool and clipped them to the fan with clothespins. My daughter watched, eyes wide. “If you can stay all night in your bed without crying or throwing a fit, then you may have this pack of gummies when you wake up.” Her scrunched-up face told me she wanted to protest because she couldn’t have them right then, but she was so puzzled by the whole thing that she was speechless.
I was texting a friend later and she asked how sleep training was going. “Well, I just clothespinned a pack of gummies to her fan, so that’s code for desperate, right?” She said, “I love the point of visibility for maximum temptation!” It brought to mind something that my aunt said a few years ago at a retreat: We crave what we see everyday.
And that makes sense to me. In a remote village in Africa, I don’t think they’re craving sodas and potato chips. They don’t even know they exist to know that they want them. And the same thing is true of me: when I was still dead in my sins, I didn’t know Jesus existed to know that I so desperately wanted Him. I knew I wanted something or someone to save me… because I felt the affects of my sin, but it wasn’t until I met Him that I knew He was what I was after.
This principle holds true for all matters of the heart. Whatever I put before my eyes is what I am going to crave. And this is what Tara-Leigh was getting at: I must put Jesus in front of me every single day. It will not be enough to see Him occasionally or once a week or on holidays. The thing that I fixate on every day will be the thing that navigates and motivates my life. If I spend hours pouring over magazines and television shows with impeccable living rooms and patios, that is where my focus is going to be. If I stalk people on social media, I will compare my life to theirs whether I realize it or not. If I stock my pantry with Kit Kat bars and Chips Ahoy, those will likely be the first things to go. We will always gravitate towards the things that are familiar, comforting, and satisfying. But until we pay attention to how shockingly unsatisfying the world’s goods are, we will never know the disservice we cause ourselves.
And if we pay attention to how empty we feel with all the things the world offers, we will then discover how ultimately satisfying Jesus is.
So— how do we go about craving Jesus?
I often feel silly, asking Him to help me want Him more than the things that entice me. It feels akin to asking my husband to help me love him more. But with God, He already knows my heart. He knows I lack the want-to. He knows this because He gave us Holy Spirit, Who draws us to desire Christ in the first place. Holy Spirit quickened our dead souls to believe that Jesus was the answer to sin, and He continues to call us out of our deadness into true life and fellowship with the Father every single day of this Christian walk.
So it’s okay to ask Him to allow us to WANT to want Him. To call on the Holy Spirit to do His thing…to hover above the waters of futility and joylessness in our lives and create sustainable life (Genesis 1:2-3).
And sometimes, God shows up on the road to Damascus and blinds us with His light. Other times, He asks us to take some steps in His direction. He asks us to perform simple acts of faith and obedience to demonstrate to ourselves and to the world that He is what we live for. He asks us to open our Bibles and hear His voice (2 Corinthians 3:16-17). He asks us to communicate with Him in prayer and form relationship with Him far deeper than a rote prayer three times a day before consuming carbohydrates (Ephesians 6:18). He invites us to meet daily with other believers, exhorting and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25). He asks us to glory in our weaknesses, because then we have died to ourselves and allowed God to get glory instead of us (2 Corinthians 12:9). He asks us to be on mission for Him, building His Kingdom instead of our own (Matthew 6:33). Not because He is a God Who is full of Himself: but because He knows that we can only find true life and purpose and joy outside of ourselves. He asks us to love Him above all else, because this kind of love is the kind we’ve been searching for all of our lives.
So maybe a better question would be: how do you let go of a love like this? By looking at everything else you don’t have instead of looking at the greatest thing you possess: a relationship with the God of the universe.
How do we grasp on? We choose to see Him. We choose to place Him before us. We place His will before us. His plans before ours. HIs desires above our own. He knows we are dust, and naturally such a forgetful and ungrateful people.
The answer to how to crave Him? It’s not a magic formula or a program or a degree. It begins with a choice. It might flesh itself out in a Bible study or a prayer reminder app or Bible memorization. It might look like changing the radio station or having a yard sale and evaluating where we spend money and place priority. It may be decreasing the mental and physical clutter around us so that we can be one in heart and purpose, and so that we don’t crowd out what’s truly important. It for sure will look like time spent at Jesus’ feet, in His Word and in sweet conversation with Him, and in church with other believers who adore Him.
It may look like keeping the Bible open on your counter, asking someone to check in with you and ask where your focus has been, writing verses on notecards to leave in your car and around the house, using prayer prompts to inspire you to pray about every little thing.
Deuteronomy 6 talks about it like this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Look at Him as often as you can, and you will find that He is worth any sacrifice that you might have to make. Gaze on Him to discover that He is altogether lovely and desirable.