Spirit of Desperation

Life moves along nicely most of the time. As a Christian, when troubles does come, we know that we can call upon God for deliverance. Jesus promises to be close and to hear our prayers. The Lord is like the proverbial  ace up our sleeve. We keep Him in there, hidden, until just the right moment and we bring Him out to win the hand. We use Him when we need Him. We are glad he is near but we aren’t desperate for his presence. We get along just fine without his help most of the time but we are never frantic for his intense nearness.

David Platt, author of Radical, talks about the need for a spirit of desperation in our lives. That is the pressing, almost overwhelming need for Jesus in  our daily lives. Platt speaks appropriately of a desperate need to evangelize but as I read his words it became clear that what was really in view was an acknowledgment that I can’t go on without that divine presence in every corner of my life. Apart from God and his blessed Son, I am a failure at every level. My success and all of my achievements are linked inseparably to the Father.

Do you recall Paul’s comment that “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10)? The apostle depended on God and his grace for every ability he was given. This great man with fleshly accolades beyond measure (Philippians 3:4-6) and who was even the object of worship (which he rejected) (Acts 14:11-15) knew that everything depended on God. Go back to the Philippian passage and read the next several verses.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)

Notice carefully: Paul was so desperate for Christ that he was willing to suffer great loss and disadvantage so that he could know Christ. He becomes even more extreme in his next statement. He says he counts all things as trash – rubbish – garbage against the treasure of being found faithful in Christ. When the storm howls and the ship is taking on water a sailor will throw off the most valuable cargo onboard just to live. The sailor is desperate and takes equally desperate measures to save his own life. Shouldn’t Christians think the same way? When sin surrounds us and our faith is fast vanishing; when we are spiritually going down for the last time; we must take desperate measures to survive. We must be willing to “trash” everything for the safety of the Savior’s presence.

One might reason that his life is just fine. I have what I need in this life and it is not affecting my walk with Christ. Really? That was the same rationalization of the young man Jesus spoke to in Luke 18:18-23. When the young man came to Jesus he thought his life was fine. He was a good, synagogue-going Jew who was taught the Law as a child and practiced it as an adult. But his pride in his own accomplishments quickly faded when Jesus took him to the root of his previously unacknowledged crisis. This young man loved his possessions too much! Matthew and Mark record that the young man went away sorrowful because he was rich.

When our minds are heavenward but our lives are anchored in the earth and its attractions we will be miserable. Only a desperate searching for God can relieve the tension.

Do you want Christ? Do you need Him? Do you desperately need Him? He can be found!

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