Through The Thicket

I'm so tired. I want to give in. 

When we're weary in body, we waver in our spirit. Our desires fall into the mud, and the carnal "us" takes over. The extra drink we know we shouldn't have. The bit of food that we know we should resist. The trashy program we know hinders our minds and imaginations.

With so much at our fingertips, via the Internet, television, movies, gaming systems, food, drink, and so on, it's easy to convince ourselves we deserve an extra bit as a reward for our hard day.

But it's at this point when something good can bend toward the ugly.

Thomas a Kempis, the great Christian mystic, reminds us in his classic work The Imitation of Christ that if a person satisfies "his desires, remorse of conscience overwhelms him because he followed his passions and they did not lead to the peace he sought.

"True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in the man given to vain attractions, but there is peace in the fervent and spiritual man."

But Thomas’s words here do not direct us to legalism. Rather, they steer us towards the person for whom we should pant: Jesus Christ. David’s words in the Psalm haunt us in a world of machines and screens. We are not familiar with animal desire. 

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”

—Psalms 42:1 (ESV)

How intense a thirst it must be for a deer to pant—for the deer runs and bounds, never seeming to tire. And yet, it not only thirsts, it pants. It is tired. It has run long, up mountains, through streams, over rocks, through the thicket in search of refreshment. 

To what or to whom do we turn when our days fill with mountain climbing, stream crossings, thicket navigating? Do we merely satisfy the immediate desire of our flesh? Or are we panting for something more?

Timothy Willard loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.