I long to write something of worth in a real and tangible way as you pursue your walk with Christ. There is so much information coming at us from different directions, but if we’re honest, it’s not leaving us with the transformation we desperately desire. The world is selling us an identity that fails to live up to its promises. The miracle facial cream does not eliminate my wrinkles, the $120 leggings don’t make me feel better about myself, and the curling wand that promised to turn my hair into locks of gorgeousness is just okay. All in all, we are somewhat disappointed with our collection of “must-haves.” Am I right? We desire something more.
Perhaps this is why the number one question I am asked by Jesus-professing believers since becoming a mentor on the LO Sister app is, “How do I desire God?” We are hyper-aware that the world and all its glitz and glamor are not fulfilling us, and we know in our heads and hearts that Jesus is the answer, but how does that “knowledge” equate to transformation? How do we become people living, loving, and longing to be in the presence of God?
To live, love, and long to be in God’s presence, we must understand that His presence is not about going to the right place. He’s not a formula or a location. We know this is true because of the message Jesus gave the woman at the well in John Chapter 4. Jesus had just told her the truth about her life, and this was her response: “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place where one must worship is in Jerusalem,” John 4:20. Most likely, she wondered where she could go to be cleansed. In that day, the custom was to go to the temple to be cleansed of sin and to offer sacrifices for your offenses.
The ongoing debate among Samaritans and Jews was over which “temple” was the right one—Bethel or Jerusalem. This was Jesus’ response:
“Woman believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth,” John 4:21-24.
In these four sentences, Jesus disrupts the normal system of worship. It was no longer about going to the right place. He says, “It’s neither that mountain or in Jerusalem.” Now don’t get me wrong. By no means did Jesus do away with the place. Actually, “the place” became more important. Where is the place? We’re getting there; just hang with me. Jesus’ words to this woman speak to our longing for desire. To put it in 21st-century language, Jesus told her that the Father longs for genuine, authentic worshipers who crave the truth in every area of their lives. The Father is seeking worshipers who aren’t simply showing up to cleanse their consciences but to commune with Him. He is love. He is the fullness of what we seek and the ultimate end of our desire; we just haven’t sat with Him long enough to find out. We are far too easily distracted. In truth, we want to desire Him with the least effort involved. We want the fruits of the life He promises without altering our schedules. We settle for Wendy’s while Jesus longs to dine with us by candlelight because there’s just not enough “time” for that. We have places to go and people to scroll. Did I say scroll?
Take a moment to seriously ask yourself this question and answer honestly—what do you desire? What is it you think about most often? What are the things/persons, etc., that you plan your days around? What is the center of your desire? The honest answer to those questions will likely relate to what you consume daily. For example, if you desire the perfect body, your days will probably be marked consuming anything and all fitness. You’ll spend your money on it, you’ll purchase gym memberships and diet plans, you’ll follow health influencers and buy the brands they tell you to. You will think about it when you wake up and when you go to sleep. In other words, you will become what you behold. Whatever it is that you are consuming in mass quantities will shape your desire and become what you worship. To borrow a quote from the pastor of our church, “The only thing that will determine what you become will be what you worship.”
If you want to change what you desire, you must change what you behold. If you want to desire God, then you must behold Him. To behold Him is to spend time in His presence. Where is His presence? Ahhh, where’s the place? That’s what’s so amazing about God. He is not far from each of us (Acts 17:27); oh, no, he makes it super easy for you and me, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body,” 1 Corinthians 6:19. God’s presence dwells within you. You are the temple. Come on. You don’t even have to climb a mountain.
Here’s the truth. God made Himself readily available to us in every way possible. He took on the guilt for our sin, paid the penalty, and now dwells within us to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). The only way you are going to desire Him, the only way you are going to love and long to be in His presence, is to get to know the joy that comes from His presence. Jill, are you saying I have to work to desire God? No, I’m saying that it’s impossible to have a relationship with someone who lives within your soul that you never talk to and, even more important, that you never listen to. The living God is not a place you go to punch your card in. He is the alpha, the omega, the beginning, and the end. He is the diet plan that will truly fill you up. He is the living water that never runs dry, and the only way you will come to believe this is to trust your time with the King of Glory.
Just ask the woman at the well. She went from an empty life, consuming husband after husband and attempting to fulfill her desire for love, to a woman who led an entire town to the presence of the living God. This happens when we sit in His presence. He tells us things about ourselves (usually the stuff we want to keep hidden), but He loves us in our brokenness. As we taste and feel what it’s like to be loved for who we really are instead of who we try to portray ourselves to be, it’s pretty amazing. It’s an authentic love that we can’t help but share. As our desires shift to the King of Glory, a contagious aroma exudes from within us. One heart turned toward the living God is the beginning of revival.
Jill Dasher is the author of the book SHALLOW, drowning in the shallow end of people’s approval. She serves as a mentor on the LO Sister app and is a Christian speaker who is passionate about sharing the freedom that exists when you refuse to live in hiding & freely submit all of your fears & failures to the God who made you. She has a heart for foster care and adoption and takes great joy in serving on the board of Black Mountain Home for Children and Families. She resides in the mountains of NC with her husband and five children.