Get thy heart into a panting and breathing frame; long, sigh, cry out.
- John Owen in Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers
Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
- Jonathan Edwards, Resolution no. 6 (1722)
Over the past year I have been asked by several people why my blog is called “Provocations and Pantings.” In March of 2005, I started this blog not having any idea what a blog was. Naming my blog wasn’t something I spend a lot of time trying to come up with, but for some reason Provocations and Pantings came to my mind. I will answer the “Pantings” part in this post, and I will explain the “Provocations” part in a follow up post.
It is rare when someone refers to my blog that they get the “pantings” part right. I have seen everything from “paintings” to “panties.” According to Merriam Webster, to “pant” means to “long eagerly or yearn.” The point behind this whole idea is that I write from the heart. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a passionate person in whatever I do, including in what and how I write. As a mentor prayed one time, he asked that “our affections would rise to level of our affirmations.” This is a constant cry for me. The truths I have believed about the excellencies of Jesus Christ, the glory of God, the marvelous mercy and grace which I have received deserve nothing less than the utmost of my affections—and them alone. When I think about the cries of David in the Psalms, the singular pursuit of Paul, and ultimately the death of my Savior and His passion for the Father’s will and the redemption of sinners, I see that Christianity thrives among a panting people. Of course, this does not come with a harnessing of such passion by the Holy Spirit and His control in our lives, for often we can find ourselves with the confession of on our lips, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” only to shortly thereafter be on the receiving end of a rebuke, “Get behind me Satan!” In this vapor called life, I want to daily be set into a panting frame in which I am continually drawn into deeper love and communion with God and amazement of what He has done for me through the cross of Jesus Christ in which I exult.
Maybe the best thing for me to do is to share some verses and conclude with a quote from J.C. Ryle which profoundly impacted my life early in my studies. It is my prayer and earnest desire to spend and be spent for my Savior in the display of his glory, his beauty, and his gospel truths so that my world can taste and see that indeed He is good.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:1-2,10
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.
2 Corinthians 12:15
I beseech you to hold fast your zeal, and never let it go. I beseech you never to go back from your first works, never to leave your first love, never to let it be said of you that your first things were better than your last. Beware of cooling down. You have only to be lazy, and to sit still, and you will soon lose all your warmth. You sill soon become another man from what you are now. Oh, do not think this is a needless exhortation! It may be very true that wise young believers are very rare. But it is no less true that zealous old believers are very, very rare also. Never allow yourself to think that you can do too much, that you can spend and be spent too much for Christ’s cause. For one man that does too much I will show you a thousand who do not do enough. Rather think that “the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4), and give, collect, teach, visit, work, pray, as if you were doing it for the last time. Lay to heart the words of that noble-minded Jansenist, who said, when told that he ought to rest a little, “What should we rest for? Have we not all eternity to rest in?” Fear not the reproach of men. Faint not because you are sometimes abused. Heed it not if you are sometimes called bigot, enthusiast, fanatic, madman, and fool. There is nothing disgraceful in these titles. They have often been given to the best and wisest of men. If you are only to be zealous when you are praised for it, if the wheels of your zeal must be oiled by the world’s commendation, [then] your zeal will be but short-lived. Care not for the praise or frown of man. There is but one thing worth caring for, and that is the praise of God. There is but one question worth asking about our actions: “How will they look in the day of judgment?” - J.C. Ryle in Practical Religion, 208-09.