Yesterday I had lunch with Nina, Michael (her son), and Joseph (her husband). We don’t normally get together for lunch on a Monday unless it’s somebody’s birthday. In this case we were celebrating Michael’s birthday. We went to a pizza place near their home that makes authentic Neapolitan pizza. Naples is famous for being the birthplace of real Italian pizza, and although pizza can be imitated, I really do think the Neapolitan is the best.
It was after one when we arrived, and I was hungry. I had dropped one of my soft boiled eggs on myself at breakfast. Soft boiled eggs are still in the shell, but they’re not hard, so when it hit my lap it broke open and there was egg yolk all over my dress. I had to change, and did so laughing—I mean really, how surprised did I look when the egg went all over me? It must have been hilarious! I threw the dress into the washer to get the egg out before it could harden and possibly stain the dress. Anyway, instead of my usual breakfast of two soft boiled eggs and a grapefruit, I only had one egg and a grapefruit. So by one I was starving.
We ordered our pizzas and talked about all that had happened since I had seen them last. When the pizzas came, we passed slices around the table so that everyone had a slice of all the other pizzas at the table. All of them were amazing. They say that hunger makes even mediocre food taste good, while a full stomach renders even the most delicious foods tasteless. That’s probably true.
Then we brought out the birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to Michael. As we ate the cake Michael began talking about seeking God. The passion in his voice stirred up my own passion until I was ready to kick over the table, shoot out the lights, and start my own personal revival right there.
On the long subway ride home I prayed over and over again: “Lord, don’t let me lose this holy dissatisfaction! I want to stay passionate for You!” When I got home I went to my prayer chair and sat down to pray. An hour later I realized that I had fallen asleep. Again I prayed: “Don’t let me lose this holy dissatisfaction!”
Here’s the thing: it is hard to maintain that feeling of holy dissatisfaction. And it is so easy to slip back into the everyday stuff, old habits, and familiar routines. There’s nothing wrong with those things. But I know that there is more—you do too! There is more to this Christian life than going to church, saying a few prayers, going to a Bible study, and keeping your life untangled from sin. And even in all these “normal” Christian activities we struggle and try hard not to hurt those around us. Part of my holy dissatisfaction comes from not always succeeding. I still sometimes inadvertently wind up hurting the people around me.
In the Bible we read about the sun standing still for a day and water coming from a rock and all sorts of healing miracles (paralysis, blindness, bleeding, and even death). And we hear of miracles happening in remote places like Africa and South America where life is simpler and people have uncomplicated faith. Well I have faith! I believe these things really happened. Why am I not seeing these things in my life?
Or how about just seeing someone’s life changed forever? Instead they often just become another church zombie. Where are the people that have gotten radically saved? Did God save them just to help them get a good parking place when they’re late for their doctor appointment? I don’t want God to be my trained circus poodle any more than I wanted to be Lars’ trained circus poodle. I want God to be God. I know He’s bigger than I can even imagine. I don’t want to bring God down to my size. But here’s the thought that torments me: I think I inadvertently do reduce God to a “manageable” size by returning to my auto-pilot-Christian-zombie “normal” life.
It’s not as if God hasn’t done some pretty miraculous stuff in my life, He has! But I want more. And I know that God wants me to want more. I remember that early in my missionary career, I was about to return to the US to speak at some churches about Europe as a mission field. I was weeping before the Lord, desperate for Him to go before me and with me. I have always had a terror of speaking in public, but also the burden for Europe and for its missionaries was so great that I was also terrified that I might not do a good job of speaking. So I was praying and weeping and begging God to go with me and to speak through me. He reminded me of a prophecy that I had gotten a few months earlier about the Table (see The Table), loaded with everything that I could ever want or need. I told Him: “I don’t want a gift, I want You!” Then God assured me that every gift on the Table is simply more of Him.
I have heard of people who operate in all nine of the Spiritual Gifts. Why not me? Why not my church? I want it all! I want all of God! And I don’t want to limit God. Dear God, keep this holy dissatisfaction strong in me until I finally can overcome myself! And then I want it to spread to everyone around me. I want it! Do you? God is good!