Enthralled by God
There are dozens of references in Scripture to hunger and thirst. Most of them are temporal, speaking of food and drink and the lack thereof. Many of the references describe hunger and thirst as instruments of pain and persecution, and some describe the absence of hunger and thirst as ultimate gifts from God. Still other references are metaphorical: thirsting for righteousness, for justice, for salvation, for God’s personal touch. I hunger and thirst for God, and Jesus promised that he would give the eternal spiritual water when we come to Him. That is where I want to be, with Him.
It wasn’t always that way. It is not that I didn’t want to be with Jesus; it is that I didn’t know I really could. The personal availability of Jesus was not taught when I was growing up, or maybe I didn’t understand what was taught. Jesus was loving and compassionate, was at the right hand of the Father, but was not specifically present and accessible to me. I followed all the rules, though, and did all the right things until my mid-twenties. I strayed for a few decades, but not too far. God was calling me back.
There was an indescribable sense that, even though life was going along well for my wife Katy and me, something was missing. We needed answers, and decided to return to church. I prayed to God that I could find Him. I said that if God showed Himself to me I would dedicate the rest of my life to loving and serving Him however He wished. We were led to a particular church in Newport Beach, CA.
The church family embraced us and welcomed us to attend their services and discipling programs. Immediately we attended the first “ALPHA” program given at our new church. After the first two sessions my faith was restored to the basic beliefs of my youth and now is stronger than ever. Much of my early, forgotten religious training returned like spiritual excavation. I have responded by worshiping, seeking, serving, praying, and studying. I have said yes to every opportunity for service in our church, which has brought me closer to the Lord.
I attended several adult education opportunities and was baptized with the Holy Spirit. I attended Cursillo in the fall of 1999 and had a very powerful experience of the Holy Spirit, which I believe was the beginning of my call to ministry. I continued to participate in all the adult Christian education opportunities possible, and in 2002, with the support of the Rector, I began classes at Fuller Theological Seminary. God willing, I graduated in 2007 with a Master of Divinity degree, was ordained a deacon in February 2010, and a priest later in the year.
Seeking Jesus through the discipline of study is at the center of my life and I have been studying, meditating, journaling and contemplating for many years now. In addition to the Bible, several authors have become “book mentors” to me, Dallas Willard being key. Study has revealed to me the true character of Christ, and our call to be like him as children of God.
My faith has continued to deepen through the years, Jesus has become my personal Master and Mentor, and I am now beginning to disciple others. Since giving my life to Jesus I have had several precious and significant personal spiritual encounters with Him. In one case He cured me instantly of a long term, habitual sin that I placed at his feet. I saw Him in that instant and I knew that he loved me personally and is faithful to his promises. In another case I was cured instantly of a physical problem. In another particularly moving experience God spoke audibly to me. In another experience Jesus changed my heart instantly. I found “the pearl of great value” in experiencing the truth of John 6:45, “’And they shall all be taught by God.’”
I have had many powerful visions and prophetic words. Now all I want to do is worship the Lord, take on His character, which most of the New Testament implores us to do, and serve Him as he calls me. It is through that command to be like Jesus that I view the world and look to the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
When a person finds something enthralling it simply captures their entire attention with a sense of awe and joy and wonder and delight. God has enthralled me and held me captive by His awesomeness. I am constantly in awe and wonder and joy at His presence. I see God’s hand in every good thing I see, from the perfect, tiny fingers of my toddler grandchildren to the crashing of the surf. Scripture excites and inspires me as God’s word. I read in wonder the coordinated events from the Old and New Testaments. Seeing the move of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives holds me spellbound. I see anger turned to love, brokenness healed, grief turned to joy, and I sing “How Great is Our God!”
Now as a priest I am allowed into the interior of people’s lives where I can minister to them, and in that place I witness words coming from my mouth that I did not form in my own mind. I am humbled to be God’s instrument in healing the emotional scars of others. Altar ministries where I can bear the body and blood of Christ to the mouths of my church family fills me with joy and delight, and at the same time makes me mindful of the responsibility of being an agent in God’s ministry.
Private worship times when I can sing and pray and study are inspiring. A shelf full of journals track my journey with and growth in God. I have written essays and songs and articles and theological statements and psalms. God inspires my life and helps me do things that are beyond my own power. He is the focus of my life and the empowerment of my love, for Him and for others. Truly, words are inadequate to describe what God means to me. I have tried to capture the incredible love, mercy, and passion in various forms of expression but all fall short. Still, I try to express God’s truth and my obedience to Him in words. Following are two poems I wrote worshipping God:
If It Is Your Will
If it is your will
I will climb the highest mountain
If it is your will
I will cross the raging sea
If it is your will
I will brave the blazing desert
If it is your will
And if you go with me.
For you are my Lord and you have my heart
By Love I see all things anew.
By Word I know more what to do.
By Son I see a sound example,
And faith in Him’s enough to sample
The promise of His Kingship.
With His good grace I won’t slip
From the narrow, golden path
His perfect, sinless life hath
Shown to the Kingdom of God,
His Father. Won not at all, but bestowed
By Spirit-rivers that flowed
Freely, meeting faith with the flood
Of my Savior’s cleansing blood.
Enthralled by God, and loving it, I trust him, long to see His throne high and lifted up, and to say, “Here I am; send me!”