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BOOK EXCERPT

Yearning for More

By Cecil Murphey
Guest Writer

CBN.com -- I yearn for more of God in my life. It's not the kind of burning desire that's there every minute. At times it's stronger than at others, but the yearning lingers. That craving brought me to God as a young adult. That same desire has gnawed at me through the intervening years. "There must be more," I kept hearing myself say. I didn't even know what I meant by "more," but I yearned for a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. My goal is communion with Jesus Christ on the most intimate level I'm capable of achieving.

I stumbled onto a method of prayer that has enriched my spiritual relationship. Before I explain this method, though, I want to retell you Nathaniel Hawthorne's story, "The Great Stone Face."

* * *

Young Ernest and his mother sat outside their cottage and stared at one particular New Hampshire mountain. From where they sat, they could see the outline of a great stone face carved by nature.

While they stared at the magnificent structure, Ernest's mother told him the ancient prophecy handed down from the days of the Native Americans. The legend promised that a child born in the area would become the kindest and wisest person of his time. People would recognize him because his face would bear an exact resemblance to the Great Stone Face.

"I do hope that I shall live to see him," cried Ernest.

For long periods every day, the boy stared at the Great Stone Face and felt as if the rock structure gazed back at him with great tenderness.

As Ernest matured, he waited for the wise and loving emissary to appear. In the shadow of the Great Stone Face, he studied, prayed, and meditated.

During the years he waited, he became a preacher, known widely for his compassion and wisdom. His greatest passion, however, was to meet the man who embodied the image of the Great Stone Face. He waited all through his life, and no such person appeared.

One day when Ernest was an old man, he spoke to a large crowd in a meadow with the Great Stone Face in the background. He spoke words of great depth.

A listener stared at the speaker and then at the mountain. "Do you not see it?" he cried out. "Ernest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone Face!"

No one had ever noticed the resemblance before, but as they compared the visage of Ernest with the Great Stone Face, they agreed. He was the one who had been prophesied about.

By gazing at the mountain every day of his life, Ernest sought for the attributes he desired-qualities he projected on the rock structure. As he sought those qualities, they gradually developed in him. The story ends sadly, though, because Ernest never acknowledged that he had become the kind of person he had sought all his life.

* * *

For me, Hawthorne's story suggests two principles.

1. We become what we focus on. Whatever we give ourselves to shapes our attitudes and determines our character. The music we listen to and the books we read do more than entertain or give us information. They mold our attitude and our outlook.

2. Even though they may already be present, we don't always recognize the most desired qualities in ourselves. For example, if you asked the truly kind people, "Are you kind?" I'm sure they would shake their heads. They would point to their shortcomings or focus on moments when they behaved harshly. "See, I'm not a kind person."

Suppose we take the first principle and move it to the realm of prayer. The principle then becomes: Whatever we focus on in prayer, we become.

The second principle is that we can't tell when we've attained the qualities we seek. Others may perceive such traits in us. They may tell us, but we may not be able to accept their words.

In "The Great Stone Face," those to whom Ernest spoke recognized that he had become what he had most desired to see; Ernest himself, however, failed to see what he had become. Hawthorne ends the story by saying that after the old man finished his sermon, he walked slowly homeward, still hoping that some wiser and better man than he would appear -- someone who would bear a resemblance to the Great Stone Face.

That may sound like a tragic ending. If we apply it to prayer, however, I think it's an uplifting message. It says that people like Ernest will continue to yearn and plead to see those qualities already manifested in themselves. They don't grasp that they have those traits -- and that may be the work of the Holy Spirit blinding them. If they saw who they had become, isn't it possible that pride might sneak in and spoil the things they most desire?

Here's a biblical example. God called Moses to go up into the mountain to write the Ten Commandments for the second time. He stayed in God's presence for forty days and nights and ate or drank nothing during that time.

"When Moses came down the mountain carrying the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn't aware that his face glowed because he had spoken to the LORD face to face. And when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses' face, they were afraid to come near him" (Exodus 34:29-30, NLT).

Moses had no idea that he had changed, but the people knew. Moses' attitude makes it clear to me that if we seek to embrace the qualities that make us more godly, we don't keep checking for results and doing personality profiles on ourselves. We gaze at our goals and leave the results in the hands of divine grace. Our role is to pursue the best -- to yearn for the qualities we seek most. The true journey involves the search -- the longing -- not the results.

-Adapted from Committed But Flawed by Cecil Murphey, AMG Publishers, 2004.

Order your copy of Cecil Murphey's, Committed But Flawed on CBN.com

Read part one of this series, I Am Jacob: Committed But Flawed


Cecil MurpheyCecil Murphey has authored and co-authored more than 90 books in such wide-ranging fields as health and fitness, motivation, travel, business, and inspiration. Some of those books have included ghostwritten autobiographies for singer B.J. Thomas, Franklin Graham, pianist Dino Karsanakas, Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy, ultra-marathon runner Stan Cottrell, and Dr. Ben Carson of Johns Hopkins Hospital. You can learn more about him at www.cecilmurphey.com.

 

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