Many of my family and friends have funny stories of me reading books in odd places while I was growing up.
And maybe a few stories from after I had grown up.
I love words and books. Fiction and non-fiction, modern mystery and classic literature, books about God and books about art and books about technology and books about history and books about…
The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote “It’s the words that sing, they soar and descend…I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down.”
This is me.
I’ve been discovering lately, though, that this is not always a good thing.
As much good as can come from reading, my books can also take me away from God.
I read to learn but I also read to relax, to be refreshed, to be fulfilled.
Don’t fret, my fellow bibliophiles. I’m not about to tell you to burn all of your books in the name of Jesus.
The trouble comes when I begin to think that I need my books, that I deserve my time to read…and then get angry with whoever stands in the way of that.
When I turn to books to satisfy myself, to fill myself up, when I begin to have arguments with myself over whether to spend time with God or go read my books, that is when my warning lights begin to flash.
When I desire my books more than I desire God, then my books have become an idol.
I know that I am not alone in this. We all have something that tries to take the place of God.
What is it that you cling to? A parent, child or friend? Food or drink? Money, your home, a car, new clothes?
It is hard to understand why clinging to good things can be bad. How could my love for my child possibly be a bad thing?
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis, when talking about Mother-love, says this
No natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God’s hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.
Isn’t that true about anything here on this earth, that only in their relation to God are they holy or unholy?
My love for reading can be holy or unholy depending on its relation to God.
Why is it that we think we need something other than God to fill us up, to make us satisfied?
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? ~ Psalm 42
Sometimes we feel empty because we are clinging to something other than God.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Sometimes we have to let go before God can fill us up.
Letting go is scary. It takes courage, trust.
Can I tell you something? Something that I know beyond a doubt?
God will not let you down. He really is enough.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
You will not feel a lack of anything when you are truly desiring God above all else in your life. His love, His mercy, His company, His spirit…He is our breath, our life, our food, our drink.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
We don’t need other people, we don’t need other things. God is gracious and gives us people and things to surround us, but we don’t need them to be satisfied or content, we don’t need them to give us comfort or protection.
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
God is enough.
Ask Him to help you search your heart. What is it that you desire more than God?
Ask Him to help you to desire Him above all else. Out of His infinite grace, that is a prayer that He will always answer!
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.