Can I call myself a diligent seeker of God? I couldn’t a year ago. I remember the times when I waited ten minutes, twenty minutes, an hour, and he still hadn’t come. Listless, I would roll from my bed and would try to suppress the welling geyser leaking from my soul. “Where are you, Lord?” I would wonder.
Theologically I knew the answer; he was ever with me, because he had promised to never leave me nor forsake me. Still, I was uneasy. Weary of the deadness of my life, tired of the leaden Bible studies where no new revelations were imparted, I was in a spiritual drought. I followed the same routine daily—reading Scripture, praying, worshipping, and awaiting God’s presence to descend in a mighty way, a moving way, a fulfilling way. At that point, I had been walking with God for a little over a year and a half, yet I felt so far removed from the excitement and wonder of my first weeks as a Christian. In contrast, my first month of following God, I received gift after gift. I spoke in tongues; languages I could not naturally speak. I discovered God was real and that he loved me. He spoke to me daily of his love. His presence was new—everything was new. I was in a whirlwind, suspended midair by the joy of discovering something good for the first time. However, as time progressed, my joy waned. Studying sermons, reading the Bible and lying in God’s presence were no longer enough to satisfy me. The novelty of my life had faded and I no longer experienced God’s supernatural gifts with the same intensity I had before. All too soon, the extraordinary had become ordinary.
In the spring of 2011, I took time off from Williams. Back home in Florida, I hoped to learn more about God’s plan for my life, to rest and to pursue ministry. I rested but found I was not ready to pursue ministry. My dissatisfaction with life increased; I was home with my family, but without studies or a purpose. I needed to do something, for myself and to support my family financially, and so I looked for employment. However, in the battered Floridian economy, the job hunt did not go as planned. Rejected by employers and with a lowered self-esteem, I felt abandoned by God’s lack of provision. Why weren’t the offers rolling in? Where were the supernatural blessings I had experienced so tangibly in the past? There was nothing in my life now but the painfully natural. I craved something fresh. I wanted God to bring me new and exciting possibilities because I tired of what he had already given me. After having received gifts such as the Holy Spirit’s tangible movement within me, I realized that God’s word was truly living, and I was eager to have more. However, God didn’t bring me any new manifestations. I stagnated in my walk with him and my days were weary. As a result, I found little joy in my interactions with him.
I was dissatisfied but I couldn’t identify what my longing for God meant. As I was listening to worship songs, I happened across the term “hunger”. In the songs, the worship leaders would cry out fervently for God and express their “hunger” for him. This led me to ask myself, “Am I hungry for God?” I squirmed around the word. It appeared too desperate, too intense. In my pride, I didn’t want to be like those worship singers. I was uncomfortable with their emotional cries to be filled up with God. I was too awkward to even admit that I was hungry. So I ignored my longing and didn’t ask God about it. Toward the middle of the summer, I read the prayers of the psalmists, particularly David, who stated, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” David wasn’t ashamed to say he needed God. Why was I?
I probed myself further and discovered I didn’t want to admit I needed God desperately because I did not want to be vulnerable. I was held back by many—very human— fears. What if God didn’t come to meet me? What if I poured my desire out to him and he did nothing? Was he just passively sitting on the throne, accepting my worship as one out of millions? Did my words and songs mean anything to him? Again, I knew the theological answer: if God loved me enough to die on the cross for me, then surely my worship meant a great deal to him. But there was a great disconnect between my mind and my heart. Struggling to overcome my doubts, I was often frustrated and discouraged when my prayers were not answered and my life continued as dully as ever. I was hungry to know more of God and to experience him as intimately as I experienced my best friends. I longed for the reality of heaven that God had so incrementally placed into my life on Earth, but I was reluctant to embrace the intensity of my desire, fearful that God would not reciprocate the hunger I placed before him.
But God, in his providence, answered me through my Bible study. As I read more of Psalms, as well as Proverbs, I realized it was normal to want God desperately. More importantly, it was fine to express that desire to him. He showed me that it was my glory and my privilege to seek Him. It was humbling to discover my utter dependence upon God, but it was even more honoring to discover how high I could be lifted when I sought the Most High God. He was worth the search and I knew there was no shame in needing him.
From that moment on, I prayed to him honestly. The results I wished to see did not come immediately, but after praying, my relationship with God grew a little more intimate, dynamic and steadfast. Following this, I read Michelle Perry’s book, An Invitation to a Supernatural Life. It encouraged me to view hunger and times of spiritual dissatisfaction as an opportunity to grow closer to God. Even when extraordinary circumstances in my life were sporadic, God continued to invite me into his spiritual world.
By the time I accepted my hunger for God, summer was nearly over. My first few weeks back at Williams were challenging. I grew impatient with dissatisfaction. Thus I continued my Bible study and one verse in particular gave me the final solution to my dilemma: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6 KJV). I realized that each moment I waited on God was an act of diligence that brought me closer to the reward.
My hunger continues even now. I cannot be complacent. In my difficult journey of accepting and coping with my hunger, I have found what it means to diligently seek God. I know I must spend time with him even when I do not want to, even when life is dull. Each day is a daily surrender to that hunger and an exercise in diligently seeking him. I trust him, and so I wait, knowing he will come.
Shana Dorsey ’15 is an English major from Jacksonville, Florida. She enjoys books, creative writing, and theology, as well as conversation with God and her friends.
Image by Jakecz from Stock Free Images.Tags: Bible, desire, doubt, faith, fear, friendship, God, hunger, joy, Michelle Perry, pain, pride, purpose, rest, theology