A sad fact is that many children grow up with a parent who is never satisfied. My own father was a hardcharging, young army officer when my brother was born. Dad was tough and demanding.
When I made my appearance into this world eight years later, our soldier/father had mellowed, which was great news for me, but the damage to my brother was clear. He never stopped trying to “please dad” until the day of his untimely death at 44.
How many men long to hear their father say, “That’s a great job, son. You've done well. I'm delighted with what you’ve accomplished.” All too often the words never come and there remains a damaged heart that not even time can mend.
But even if you had the best of dads you still may not understand the “heavenly Father” as revealed in Scripture. You probably intuitively realize that God is supremely holy and we are something far less than that. We sin and violate God’s Word by nature. We rebel without even thinking about it. I’ve forgotten far more sins than I’ve ever confessed, and yet I long to please my Father.
How is that possible? God needs nothing since He is complete in and of Himself. So how can we, as sinners, please this holy God? What can we feel or do or even think that would bring Him pleasure?
Well, maybe it would help if we understood that God is more like a mountain spring than a watering trough. I say that because a mountain spring is self-replenishing. It constantly overflows and supplies life-giving water to others. But a watering trough needs to be constantly filled with a pump or a bucket brigade.
So, if you want to “glorify” the worth of a watering trough you must work hard to keep it full and thus useful. However, if you want to “glorify” the worth of a fresh water spring you simply get down on your hands and knees and drink to your heart’s content until you’ve been refreshed and have the strength to go back down the valley and tell others what you’ve found.
Now, when you apply this analogy to the Father in heaven here is what you get: The way to please the Lord is to come to Him to drink—not to water. Thus, as John Piper puts it, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
So our hope as desperately needy sinners who live in Death Valley is that God is the kind of God who will be pleased with the one thing that we have to offer—our thirst! God needs nothing and so He’s delighted not by the resourcefulness of bucket brigades, but by the bending down of broken sinners to drink at the fountain of grace.
In the last few years I’ve learned some things about my Savior. I’ve also learned some things about the depravity and sinfulness of my own heart. Through it all, I've grown in my relationship to Christ because I've experienced the freshness of His unconditional love.
I told a friend a few weeks ago that I used to simply feel guilty when I would miss my daily devotional time with the Lord. Now, however, when I miss either because of a crazy schedule or just sorriness on my part, I don’t feel so much guilt as I do a void—I simply miss my Savior and Friend. I miss the relational part as opposed to the necessity aspect of my daily prayer time.
I have a Father who is not only pleased but delighted as I come to Him as the mountain spring of life and there, sinful man though I am, kneel and deeply drink in great gulps of grace. The Father is delighted as I simply bring to Him the only thing I really have to offer—my deep thirst. I hope you too have already or will soon discover that Christ alone is the fountain of life who satisfies the deep longings of the soul.
Rev. Gary Cox is minister of Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Lexington, NC.