Everybody Needs God: How about You?
First in a series on “How to Get Closer to God”
March 11, 2007
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
1Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
6Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning. This week, and for several weeks up until Easter, I invite you to participate with me in a series of sermons called “How to Get Closer to God.” Let’s look at some ways the Bible tells us that we can get closer to the Lord. Today’s sermon title is “Everybody Needs God: How about You?”
Picture, if you will, a time in your life when you were thirsty. Can you remember a time when you were thirsty for a good cold drink of water? I know when I do my health walk in the morning I come back to the house ready for a nice cold class of Poland Spring. How about you? Maybe you’ve been at a sporting event where you’ve been out in the hot sun at a stadium, and a nice cold glass of water sounds like a great thing.
Isn’t it true that children seem to know exactly when they’re thirsty? And that would be about ten minutes after bedtime – right, parents? “Mom, can I have a glass of water? Dad?” I remember when I was a boy, I’d visit my aunt’s house down in Vineland, New Jersey. She had a farm there. And outside the house there was a wonderful device – a green hand pump, a water pump sticking up from the ground. My aunt had an old pickle jar full of water. You’d have to pour it into the pump and then pump like mad. And then, all the water you could drink would come out of that pump, cold and clear and wonderful and refreshing. It was a joy.
You know, the truth of the matter is that we need water. And we need food. And we need God. Human beings are built in such a way that we just need those three things. We need the quenching that water brings and the nourishment that food brings. But friend, we also need God. That’s the way that God put us together. It’s as though, inside of us, there is a God-shaped emptiness that only He can fill. There is a God-shaped emptiness that God put there upon creation, and it never gets filled until we fill it with Him. Until we invite Him into our hearts and have a personal relationship with God, that emptiness is there.
But once we have that connection, once we have that fulfillment, oh my goodness, it blossoms and blossoms. I want that for you. I want that for me. I want that for each of us, to quench that thirst that only God can fill.
St. Augustine was a great man of God who lived many, many years ago. He was a very earthy kind of guy, but he was deeply devoted to God. He led a rather wild youth and later became a bishop of the church. St. Augustine prayed many prayers. One of them was, “Lord, deliver me from temptation…but not yet.” Another prayer he prayed was, “Lord, our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.” And it’s true. There’s a God-shaped emptiness that only the Lord can fulfill.
My prayer for each of us is that this Lenten time, during these next several weeks, we would seek out ways to fulfill the thirst that is inside each of our hearts and experience the joy and refreshment that only God can bring.
When do we need God? I can think of several times. I need God to say ‘thank you’ to. When I go out for those walks in the morning, it’s a great time to converse with the Lord and to admire His artistry, to look at what He’s created in the early morning when the sun rises over the empty fields, to see the colors that the Lord has painted with. When I see the artistry that He has put into a tree, and the balance and design, my heart sings “How great Thou art, how great Thou art. Dear Lord, thank you for this design. Thank you for the miracle of life.” We need God to say ‘thank you’ to, because life is a miracle.
I wonder what people who don’t have God in their lives do when they want to say ‘thank you’? Whom do they thank? Is life just ordinary? Is it just an occurrence? Oh no – it’s an exciting and vast and wonderful miracle. We need God, we thirst for God when we want to say ‘thank you.’
We need God when we need someone to turn to. How about you? Do you need someone to turn to? I know that I was going through a time in my life that was extremely scary. I won’t burden you with the circumstances of it, but it was very threatening. I remember praying with my mom during that time. We’d sit in the living room and say the 91st Psalm together. The 91st Psalm is a famous psalm of protection. We’d pray, and we’d feel the Lord’s comfort being with us and near us during that frightening time. We need God when we need someone to turn to. I’m happy to tell you that that circumstance resolved itself wonderfully and well, and the reason for the scare and the fear all went away, and God was with us every step of the way. We thirst and we need God when we need someone to turn to.
We need God when we need someone to walk with. I was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church. I had a wonderful upbringing, and I thank God for it and I bless God for it. But as I got into my teen years, there was just something missing. I followed all the rules pretty well, but there was something missing inside me. I remember when I started out as an organist in the Methodist Church – I was 17 years old – I paused one day in my practicing, and I said, “Lord, you’ve said in your scripture, ‘if with all your heart you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.’ Thus saith our God. Well, I do hereby declare that I officially truly seek You, and I want to find You.”
I don’t know what I expected – the slant of light through the window? A choir in the distance? None of that happened, but I will tell you this. From that day on, there has been a sense of the nearness of God and of a companionship of the Lord that has increased and increased to this very day. Invite Him in, and He will say yes. Everybody needs God. How about you? I can tell you this, dear friends. As you invite the Lord into your life, as you drink of the abundant waters of His grace, there will be a fulfillment that nothing else in the world can give.
In our reading from the holy scripture this morning in Isaiah, chapter 55, the first words of the prophet Isaiah are, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, come to the waters of abundant life, and you that have no money, come buy anyway and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah of course speaks of the heavenly food, of the spiritual fulfillment that comes when we invite the Lord into our lives.
There is a God-shaped emptiness in each of us that only He can fulfill. Won’t you join me in making a personal commitment these weeks to walk more closely with the Lord? Walk more closely by daily prayer, by going to the upper room represented by the light of a lighthouse and dwelling there with God and feeling the fulfillment of His presence.
In closing, there is one more thing I’d like to point out. There is a God-shaped emptiness in each of us that only He can fulfill. But behind this scripture from the prophet Isaiah is another statement. It is the Word of God who needs you. There is a wide you-shaped emptiness in the heart of God that can only be filled by you. It is clear from the scripture that God yearns for your company, for your attention, for closeness with you. There is a love in His heart that can only be fulfilled when the two of you are together. So, why not let the circle be complete? Gladden the heart of God, even as He blesses and gladdens your heart, through a personal relationship with Him.
Let it be this week. Let it be in the days to come, won’t you? Join me in this commitment, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski