“There’s a God who walks over the earth
Searching for a heart that is desperate
Longing for a child who will give him their all
Give it all; He wants it all.”
When I first heard this song, I didn’t yet fully appreciate it. I mean, the melody is beautiful, the Jones family is talented and the words painted a picture of a God who longed to be in relationship with his children. But the line that really tugged at me and reeled me in, revealed a God who was searching for one who would yield and surrender completely to him; a desperate heart. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with this song.
I saw, in my mind, a montage of biblical characters who had reached the point of desperation. Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel, was barren when the high priest Eli found her praying to God to relieve her condition. A wife who could not bear children to her husband was seen as defective, even cursed. To top it off, she was in competition with the other wife who had no problem bearing children to their husband. Although Hannah was the favorite wife, it just wasn’t enough. She longed to have a child of her own. Her husband tried to console her, “Aren’t I more to you than ten sons?” It was at this point in the story that we find her, praying so desperately for a child that Eli thought she was drunk. Eli offered comfort in his benediction, “May God grant your request.” A year later, Hannah held the baby Samuel in her arms whom she dedicated in service to the Lord after he had been weaned.
The Syro-Phoenician woman came to Jesus at the end of her rope and threw herself at his feet. With nowhere to turn except to Jesus, she was desperate enough to believe he could heal her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus countered her with this statement, “It’s not good to give the meat that’s meant for the children to the dogs.” What Jesus had for his people was precious and not to be given away lightly, especially to one who might not even believe or have the proper appreciation for who the Messiah was and what he could do. The woman immediately submitted her pride, her will, her everything for the sake of her daughter. “Even the dogs get the crumbs,” she responded. In other words, “Consider me unworthy, if you will.” She let him know she would not be offended, deterred or turned away so easily. She was determined to get the help her daughter needed.
These women had this in common; they had run out of resources, run out of answers, run out of solutions and thus, were out of options. There was no, “Well, if that doesn’t work, we’ll do this.” So they turned to God, the only help to whom they could appeal. Desperate times call for like measures and these women were just desperate enough to give it all to God and trust him with the outcome. They surrendered all to him because they had nowhere else to turn.
Then there’s the story of Naaman, a leper and commander of an enemy army. His servant, an Israelite maiden, referred him to the prophet Elisha to be healed of his disease. Naaman had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so he traveled to see the man of God. But Elisha didn’t even go to meet Naaman. Instead, he sent his servant with a message: Go dip in the River Jordan seven times. Naaman felt slighted that Elisha wouldn’t even see him in person. And dip in that river? Surely, there were rivers in his own country that were cleaner, if simple water was the remedy! Disgusted and puzzled, he was about to leave when his servant said, “If he had given you something big to do, you would have done it. Surely this is a small thing.” Naaman heeded that advice and went down in the water. On the seventh time, he came up with skin soft and smooth like a baby. But it was never about the water, it was about the surrender.
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Isaiah 42:3
Which took me back to the day my sister went in the hospital. Then, my mother went in the hospital the very next day. She had fallen. And I couldn’t even tell my sister because I didn’t want to upset her. Immediately I began to worry – could things get much worse? I worried about them both and prayed for their recovery. Sadly, I also worried about how their conditions would affect me. I had to leave work to see about my mom. I worried about the security of my job and what it would mean if I had to take a prolonged absence to care for her. I worried about my sister’s condition and what if she was not able to care for my mom any more. What would I do if? How could I pay my bills and take care of my family with no job? Could this have come at a worse time? Admittedly, there is no good time for such things. Really.
As I drove to my sister’s home to escort the ambulance that carried my mom to the hospital, I felt the weight of it all, everything crashing at once. On my head. My responsibility. I began to feel overwhelmed. But I realized that a song was playing in my head, like background music. The radio wasn’t on. God was speaking to me through song. It was a song about surrender:
Love me; love me with your whole heart
Serve me; serve me with your life now
Bow down, let go of your idols
He wants it all today, He wants it all …
I realized God was sending me a message. Give it to Him! Trust him to make it alright. Surrender my right to worry about it, cry about it. Was my situation desperate enough? For me, it was. I needed relief. I needed to believe everything would be ok. I needed to know that whatever the outcome, God would work it out. The song washed over me, soothing me, calming my spirit and I surrendered. I regained my peace. I prayed and gave it to God.
Looking back, I now realize that worry can be an idol. Anything that can cause you to revere it over God is an idol. Let go of worry (insert your idol here), the song urged me. Bow down to God, not under the crushing weight of your fears. Perfect love, the kind that only God can offer, has the power to cast out fear. Love Him and let go of it all.
The good news came. My mom’s x-rays came back fine – nothing was broken. My sister was released from the hospital, too. All was well, again. I guess the lesson I learned was that when we come to him at the end of our rope, when we’re down to nothing and ready to try anything, give anything, and do anything – He won’t turn us away. We humble ourselves before him and admit that we need him and can’t do this alone; we give up all semblance of pride and come to him completely broken, desperate and offering only ourselves, leaving us open and bare before him. We let Him in. That’s scary. We say we want intimacy but in reality, we shy away from it. Maybe because we’re afraid if we let someone in and they see how crazy we truly are, they’ll make a run for it. But God can deal with our crazy.
So now that we have the answer, we have the key, this thing that may move God to work on our behalf, the question becomes, “How desperate are you?” You want or need something from God and the tradeoff may be real intimacy with him. Do you want it? Do you really want it? Get desperate.
P.S. I don’t blame Ali Larter …