Can't Live Without It


What is the one thing in your life that you absolutely cannot do without?

Eliminate oxygen, food, and water; those are givens. But what's next? What instantly comes to mind? You don't have to think about it for long, because just the thought of living without it brings a surge of panic.

It might be a relationship: spouse, child, or friend. It could be an occupation, hobby, or pastime that brings more fulfillment than anything else. What is it for you?

If you're trying to second-guess the "right" answer, you may have said your faith is most important. Lots of people say that--whether Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian. You can have passionate faith in just about anything and it can make you feel really good for awhile. But quite often, it is just not enough.

Faith is based upon my ability to maintain it, and many times my faith is just not enough when life slams me up side of the head. My faith is shakeable, tenuous at times, and utterly unreliable. My faith is often based on my perception of God at the moment.

What I am discovering that I cannot live one moment without is the tangible presence of God.

Isn't that the same thing?

No.

2 Peter 1 lists eight steps required to deepen our relationship with God. It begins with "Add to your faith, virtue..."

In other words, faith is the only the first step in knowing God. Unfortunately, most Christians stop at this first step. We get comfortable there and decide to stay.

Faith is good. Without it, we cannot please God or come into his presence. However, it's like preferring baby food to Olive Garden if you refuse to move on to the next step: virtue.

Virtue means "the pursuit of moral excellence." It's the step that makes the remaining steps possible. That doesn't mean you must be perfect, but it does mean you make a decision to turn over complete control of yourself to God: your life, your thoughts, and your future. 100% control. All of His ideas and none of yours. His will--not yours. His agenda--not yours.

And most of us throw on the brakes!

We'll give him 90% and feel pretty virtuous about that. But everything?

If you want to live the purpose for which God designed you, you can't skip steps. If you do, it may be months, even years, but somewhere down the road, you will realize your faith isn't working for you. This is why many people end up disillusioned and sometimes abandon their faith in a frantic effort to find something that "works."

So why do so many well-meaning people get stuck on Step Number One and spend the rest of their lives questioning whether they've bought into the right answer?

The primary reason is fear. We suspect that if we were to dedicate every inch of ourselves to God, he would require us to do something awful. Something we hate. Something that would strip us of our identity and condemn us to a miserable existence. So we hold on to that one thin strip of control--just in case. We'll go only so far with God, but no further. We want the final say in any life decisions. If we agree with them, fine. If not, we have the veto power. Our prayers in reality sound like this: "Show me your will, God (so I can decide if I want to do it)."

In refusing to offer ourselves as "living sacrifice," we also condemn ourselves to remain at arm's length from a God who longs to cuddle us as little children. We deny ourselves the experience of living enveloped in the tangible presence of God.

You may have faith. Your faith may be very important to you. But is it enough? When the storms hit, when life falls apart around your ears, when the idea of some distant Heaven seems remote compared to this life's agony, is your faith enough?

Once you have actually experienced the tangible presence of God, you won't want to live a minute without it. It's the appetizer before Heaven, whetting your desire for more, and leaving you disgusted with any subsitutes. It's what David meant when he wrote "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" (Ps. 42:2)

If you haven't added to your faith virtue, you don't know what you're missing.

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