The Nevada sky was darkening, and we drove on, headed for California. Earbuds on, I watched the clouds and the stars while Jon Foreman sang:
I want to wake up kicking and screaming/I want to wake up kicking and screaming/I want to know that my heart's still beating.
And I thought, Ive been here before
When everything is said and done and I am six feet under, I think a particularly discerning person would be able to trace many of the great, quiet miracles of my life to moments like that one. Everyone has the off-beat places where they encounter God; mine is looking at the stars, usually from the window of a car, while Switchfoot dances through my head.
The lyrics reach through my ears and down to my chest where they grip my heart. And just like that, so subtly, I am changed. I am never the same after that moment.
Years before that moment on the Nevada highway, I was in another car on another night under another sky full of stars. I was broken and vulnerable, lonely and battered, and another song played in my head.
We want more than this worlds got to offer/We want more than the wars of our fathers/And everything inside screams for second life.
Just like that, I knew: That sky full of stars that stretched billions of miles beyond the rock I was planted on was calling to me, telling me that I was meant for something greater than all of this. More accurately, the One who shaped those endless galaxies with a mere word was whispering in my ear, inviting me to let go of the window and the trees and the clouds and even the stars.
He was telling me that I existed for something bigger.
I have been burning after more.
That wordmoreis the subtitle to a culture that always demands to be treated a little better, served a little more thoroughly, and blessed a little more abundantly. We expect so much even though, on the whole, we have given so little. More! has become the cry of a spoiled child, always stamping his feet and insisting on his way.
Perhaps, though, this is not the way More began. Maybe More was the fire burning in the hearts of a fallen people. We chose instant gratification and shortcuts over an endless encounter with the Most, the God who creates and sustains life itself, and our hearts have always felt the disconnect. Deep in our inner man, beyond the pretentions and the bandages on our soul, our heart cries for More. Were smoldering for it; we know that all the kindling we can find in this world will never fuel the fire meant to blaze inside.
Man has always tried to fan this fire into flame on his own. Sometimes he gathers armful after armful of scrap wood and paper, and he throws this heap onto the orange ashes in his heart. Then the flames jump up, bright and hot, but the fuel is not right, and it ends as quickly as it began. All he has to show for it are burns on his hands.
I too try to throw these armfuls of scrap on the smoldering in my heart. I have a computer and a few cameras, and they are my kindling in disguise. I have lots of empty pursuits and pretentions that I gather up to toss on the ashes. My great folly is in thinking I can make my own More.
More is not a concept or a feeling or even a future: More was a man. More was when God saw man burning himself on the emptiness of his heart, and knowing that man could not resolve the problem himself, God became More and threw Himself on the ashes for us.
What we did not want to come to terms with was that whatever is thrown into the fire is consumed by it. Nothing can survive. But God threw that out the window and did it anyway, threw Himself into the fire for us. And thats when our eyes were opened to the nature of this God we had ignored: we cried out in fear to see Him engulfed in the flames, and in that moment, He disclosed His glory to us by walking out unharmed.