The Narrow Gate – Magnificent Obsession

In the last content post I wrote about how the Apostle Paul had made knowing His God deeply and intimately his “magnificent obsession. And so it should be for each one of us.

How can we join in the pursuit of this magnificent obsession of knowing our God intimately? Hosea the prophet talks of this in Hosea 6:1-3, “Come, let us return to the Lord; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up.  After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.  Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Hosea’s advice is to press on to know the Lord.  The word rendered “press on” means to pursue with the intent to overtake or apprehend.  This is no casual pursuit.  Hosea is describing here a magnificent obsession.  And for those who undertake this pursuit to apprehend, the promise is given: “…his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.”  So how does one press on to know our God in an intimate relationship?

First, you press on by deciding to pursue your God above all else every day.    Settle it in your heart that this is your magnificent obsession, your most important pursuit every day of the week.  Then ask your God to make it so in you.  Your success in the pursuit will depend on the work of your God in you, not on your own efforts. But remember that He works in this way only in those who are fully given to the pursuit and who are seeking only Him as the answer.

Second, you press on by praying for your God to reveal Himself to you daily.  Paul tells us how to pray for this in Ephesians 1:17-19:  “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.”

Here is a prayer that our God desires to answer for us.  He reveals Himself to those who seek Him to do so. As we pray for that spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Him, our God answers us not according to our efforts but according to His power.

Third, Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  Repentance is key to the pursuit of our God.  It is vital that we repent of things that used to be our obsessions.  This clears the way so that we can pursue our God as our magnificent obsession, our “pearl of great price” as Jesus describes it.   

And as we repent, we like Paul will discover the irony of how loss brings gain.  When we come to know Christ intimately, we willingly “lose” our “right” to be self-governing.  In its place we gain eternal significance and the life of God Himself.    We lay aside everything else to pursue an intimate love relationship with our God, and we find out that the life we gain excels any kind of life we were pursuing before.  

Repent, then, of all self-living.  This sounds harsh, but it is not.  It is freeing to us to give up anything that gets in the way of the absolute best life available.  Repent of the former things, forsake them, turn to Him to cleanse you of them, and you will find life as you have never had it before. 

Fourth, we press on by communing with the Holy Spirit daily.  We cannot become intimate with anyone with whom we do not spend significant time.  Carve out some solid, significant silence and solitude in your day.  Something will have to go away – busyness and always having noise and visuals around you.  Reduce or eliminate things that consume your attention and compete with the Holy Spirit in your life.  Make white space in your life so that you can commune with your God often in your day.

For me, that meant laying aside things like constant attention to media – TV, smart phone, news cycle, social media, and keeping the day filled with radio noise.  This has freed up a lot of time for communion with my God.  For me, it means committing time almost every morning to silence, listening to my God, journaling, and having conversation with Him all through the day.  For me, it means calming the racing thoughts to slow down, turn inward to the Holy Spirit, and simply rest in His presence.  It is here that He speaks.  It is here that He reveals Himself.  This is how He directs my praying and cleanses my thinking and motives.

Create space in your life to talk to your God often.  Tell Him you love Him and want to know Him intimately.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you so that you might know Him.  With your speaking to God, learn also to give time to listen in the silence.  Turn your thoughts toward Him.  Converse with Him about whatever comes to mind.  This conversational communion with your God is true prayer.  We know our God responds to such prayer, for Jeremiah tells us what God told him, “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.”Jeremiah 33:3

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