Our Thirst for God

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Our Thirst for God


He knew what lay waiting beyond the blood-stained walls of his cell. The sentence had been passed and it was just a matter of time. In a way, he conceded justice was finally being served as retribution for the violence and treachery he had committed in his life. After all, he was nothing more than a thief and a murderer, and deep inside he knew his life served little purpose other than to bring suffering to others. But he understood full well the nature of his demise and fear gripped him like the jaws of a great beast.

He lay curled in the corner of the room, His mind drifting in and out of consciousness. Hunger gnawed at him and his throat was raw and parched. Amid the stench of urine and feces that blanketed the air around him, rats crept along the walls oblivious to his motionless body.

Suddenly the metal clang of iron doors, then heavy footsteps. They were coming for him!

The cell door creaked open and two soldiers lifted him from the floor. He screamed as the chains that bound him, cut deeply into flesh and bone, then the manacles were quickly removed, and he was dragged down a darkened hallway. At the end of the corridor, a door was pushed open and the prisoner was tossed into an alley where he lay in a pile beneath a pewter-stained sky.

The man squinted up through one swollen eye and he could see the sandaled feet of the soldiers standing next to him, their calves thick and ripped with cords of muscle. The one nearest, stepped forward and kicked him in the side then spat on him.

“You are free to go now,” he commanded.

The prisoner shook his head trying to process the words. His cracked and bleeding lips moved slowly before finally whispering. “I don’t understand…”

The soldier glared down with disgust. “Another has taken your place.” Then they turned and disappeared through the doorway.

The prisoner pushed himself up from the wet cobbled stone and peered into the heavens. “Why?” he muttered. “I am not worthy of any man’s sacrifice.” Then the one known as Barabbas fell to the dirt and wept.

‘Why’ indeed.

Jesus could have chosen to spare himself from a horrific death. In the first century, the Romans had perfected the ‘art’ of crucifixion. It was a slow, agonizing ordeal, intended to strip away all

human dignity and send a macabre message of ‘obedience or death’ to all who might oppose them. As God, he understood the horror waiting for him on the cross. And as man, he knew the depth of the unspeakable pain he would suffer.

Why didn’t he save himself?

He could have lifted his body from the nails that bound him and established himself as the ruler of the world. He may have commanded a dazzling light to streak through the clouds, and lightning to split the horizon with a tremendous roar, leaving those around him trembling. The people of Israel had waited for centuries for their Messiah to come. He could have stepped down from the cross and taken the crown awaiting him.

But instead, he chose to sacrifice his life so we could all be free. He suffered the cross so he could rise again after three days, and we would know everything spoken of by the Prophets, and all he had professed during his ministry was true. With his death, Jesus offered each of us something to hope for beyond this flawed world.

Barabbas likely never understood Christ’s sacrifice. But we know he gave up his life simply because his love for us is infinite. It’s a love so selfless it’s incomprehensible for the human mind to truly fathom.

Saint Augustine once wrote, ‘God thirsts, that we might thirst for him’

Webster defines the term as a longing or ardent desire. In Psalms, King David poetically wrote of his personal love and desire for the Lord. ‘As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you O’ God.’ (Psalms 42-1)

Each of us has longed for God during moments in our lives when challenges seemed insurmountable, when we were suffering, or when we had lost hope. But to think God the Father thirsts for us is an amazing, if not humbling concept.

Have you ever thought your transgressions to be so egregious you couldn’t turn to God and seek his will in your life? Have you huddled in the darkness believing you, like Barabbas, were unworthy of his love? In my own life, during times when I have strayed furthest from the path God planned for me, I’ve felt undeserving of his forgiveness.

A feeling of unworthiness of the Almighty Father’s love is a human extinct existing since the beginning. In chapter 8 of Luke’s gospel, when Peter suddenly realized Jesus was the Messiah, he fell to his knees and cried out, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5-8)  But Jesus didn’t reject Peter that day. And when Peter denied Him three times prior to his passion on the cross, Jesus returned in the last chapter of John to reassure him of his infinite love and forgiveness.

At the beginning of this story, the soldier told Barabbas ‘another’ had taken his place. Over 2000 years ago, Jesus took our place. Though none of us had yet been conceived, he did so willingly because he loves us and has great plans for each of us.

The words in Jeremiah, chapter 29, tell us of God’s love and desire for us. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope” (Jeremiah 29-11)

Many of us spend our lives seeking to understand the specific plans God has defined for us. We often follow paths of our own making, before discovering these journeys only lead to disappointment and suffering. The Lord’s plan for my life unfolded slowly, over the course of almost 50 years. My journey was fraught with bumps, blind alleys, and self-induced wounds that took me to a dark place in my life. But despite my sins, God loved me enough to raise me from the ashes and shine a path for me. One that led to him.

Truly, none of us will ever be worthy of him. We are all flawed and broken, but he loves us unconditionally despite our flaws. God thirsts that we may thirst for him. And it’s never too late to seek him.

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About the author

Bob Blundell

Bob Blundell is a former mid-level manager who spent his career in the oil industry. Since retiring in 2013, he has rekindled his passion for writing. He has had previous work published in magazines such as Testimony, Liguorian, The Living Pulpit, GirlZ4 Christ, Spectrum, Reachout Columbia, and Torrid Literary Review. Bob and his wife Dee live in the Houston area.