When I was 18 years old, I felt paralyzed in my relationship with God. I knew God was real, but my fancy prayers and daily devotionals were not cutting it. I was doing everything right, but it felt all wrong. Yet I still thought I was giving God what he wanted.
I began to question it all—and this good little Bible-belt girl somehow missed the rules for wrestling with God. As I surveyed my life, I realized doing all the right things had won me the admiration of everyone but God. And I felt empty and prideful. It was worse than rebellion—being good with no God. It was beginning to occur to me that maybe God was after something else.
That's when I thought maybe I was chasing the wrong things. And then I found 1 Samuel 13. This is an incredibly dramatic part of the Bible, like a great Steven Spielberg movie. Saul was filled with fear; he was about to be attacked by the Philistines. He didn't know what to do to save his life, and he realized he had not sought the Lord's favor. Perhaps if he did that, God would save him!
Just then, Samuel appeared and said, "What is this you have done?" (verse 11). He told Saul he had done a foolish thing; he had been disobedient. He basically told Saul he was done. Finished.
Then Samuel told Saul that God was looking for a man after his own heart, someone he could appoint as ruler of his people, since Saul had messed up. He was talking, of course, about David. And that's why we refer to him as a "man after God's own heart." But David wasn't perfect either. Turns out our perfection is not what God is interested in. Phew! That's a relief!
David was a wild, passionate warrior king, whose own messy story I had heard and whose psalms I had read a thousand times, but when I began to look a bit more closely at the life of this man, something about the way he related to God just wrecked me. (Check out 2 Samuel 12 and then read Psalm 22!) Yes, David committed murder and adultery—he was no missionary or priest. I saw this man as both completely sold out for God and completely broken. He was in love with God. And he lived with an acute awareness of his need for him. His view of God was so big, David actually believed God was real and lived like it.
In every one of us is a space that is screaming, saying there is something wrong, something missing. We all feel it—this chasm in us—and every one of us tries to fill it. We run hard after everything we can think of to fill it. This is just the way we cope, the way we survive. We need to fill it, so we do. We chase.