Thanks for joining me for part 1 of the blog Desiring God P1. For Part one, I want to introduce the idea of our desires. Part two will be some practical considerations to help us improve our desires. All quotes will be from Larry Crabbs’ Freedom from the Incurable Addiction to Self: Waiting for Heaven unless otherwise noted. To begin, I want to ask you three reflective questions. I recommend making time to answer these questions in your prayer/meditation journal:
Prayerfully answering the questions will help you to discern areas in your life that may need adjustment. Understand that I write this blog as a human who also struggles with desire. Desire isn’t an inherently evil or harmful aspect of our lives! Yet the sources and object(s) of our mistaken desires leads to harm to ourselves and others.
C.S. Lewis describes our desires as being lacking and centered on the wrong things (emphasis mine):
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. C. S. Lewis (2009). “Weight of Glory”, p.26, Harper Collins–AZ Quotes
Our consumer-driven economy, political, and even religious influences tend to emphasize materialistic, self-pleasing, and comfortable living that we can control! Does our culture emphasize personal success, wealth, influence, and power as the best things to desire and strive to obtain? How much energy and resources do we invest in educating ourselves and seeking better employment opportunities? Do we not vote for candidates who agree with us or say the things we want to hear? What about our church attendance and participation? Do we not tend to seek comfort and like minded people over authentic living as we pretend to be okay/all together in church?
I am guilty of all of the above! I too want a good paying but low stress job/career where I am valued and have input. Is it wrong to invest in college and graduate studies to prepare for success in your chosen field? These things in and of themselves aren’t necessary wrong–but like any good thing that is corrupted by evil–they become idols that we daily pour ourselves into. As I will argue later in this blog, this leaves us broken and alienated from God, ourselves, and others.
I want to make the argument that we not only desire the wrong things, but that we don’t desire the right things enough! Here are three observations on this considering our human nature:
- We desire most strongly the things that give us the most immediate pleasure and sense of fulfillment in our lives–we want it and we want it now! (Think about kids on Christmas morning when presents are visible under the tree!)
- We desire to be in control and informed about most aspects of our lives. Simply, we want to have choices and make decisions. We will at times manipulate and use others to get what we want selfishly!
- We often feel unfulfilled, sad, anxious, maybe even depressed when things don’t go the way we want them to. Life becomes about “me” or “I”–I want to have my way.
Once again I want to make the point that seeking fulfillment is a natural, God designed element of our lives that He intends to use for our good! Being in control of ourselves and seeking to make wise decisions are part of maturing as Christians. Multiple scripture passages come to mind here. When our desires and needs aren’t fulfilled it’s going to be painful. This pain can cause us to reflect on what’s really going on. All healthy relationships are a balancing act wherein we give and receive. Appropriate, mature relationships with others involve boundaries and self-sacrifice/giving with an openness to receive as well. Our emotions are a gift from God! Much like a warning light on your car dashboard alerts you to serious issues–our emotions can alert us to areas of our lives that need God’s redemptive touch!
2 Core Truths from Larry Crab
1. Only Christianity and the Christ of Christianity can lead us into the life the human soul was designed to live, and can therefore most enjoy” pg. 94
Larry reminds us that a “person draws others to Christ by illustrating that only the truth of the Gospel can satisfy a human soul as much as it can be satisfied while still living in this evil world as a not yet glorified person.” pg. 94
He also explains how our failures and conviction can lead us to being more open to Holy Spirit’s work. How we live out our journeys of faith is important! Others are watching. The world, our careers, relationships, etc. can’t complete or fully satisfy us!
2. Only the three Person God is telling a soul-satisfying story that will reach its forever satisfying consummation when for a second time, God will look at all He created ad declare “It is good! It’s very good!” pg 95
As followers of Christ, our hopes rest on the promise that God will redeem all things and make the world anew. As we wait for Him, we can grow in our dependence and love for Him. God’s plan is to bring all things together and for us to be one with Him as before the fall in Genesis 3. I would like for you to take some time to carefully read John Chapter 17. Consider carefully the words of Christ as He prays to His Father!
C.S. Lewis writes in his book The Problem of Pain:
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
As we face broken dreams, unfulfilled desires, we can realize that God is renewing our thirst for Him! If we are consumed with love of the world and the many fine things it offers us, then we “reflexively dull that thirst, to be directed by lesser thirsts who satisfaction I may be able to manage, to gain satisfaction on demand, under my control.” pg 98
Larry encourages us:
When troubles come we are to treat them as an opportunity for something good to develop in our mind and heart (James 1:2-4). Two clear options present themselves: run from God in angry despair . . . or tremble and trust, lament over fallenness in yourself, others and the world, but trust Him to bring you into the Son’s enjoyment of the Father’s love, crying from your heart exactly, knowing it is to that He is unalterably committed. pg 99
What is God “unalterably committed”? God sent Jesus to redeem us so that we would live and have our being in fellowship with God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God Holy Spirit. As I’ve written in previous posts, to follow God is to turn away from the world and it’s many pleasures/false idols.
Central truth to remember is found on page 96
“Because of regeneration, of being made alive to God, alive in Christ, and alive with the Holy Spirit, the most compelling thirst in the soul of a Christian is a thirst for holiness, to know the God of love and to live to make Him known.”
God makes us anew! We are new creatures with new desires! May God guide and enlighten you on your path!
I write these words to you as one who has followed lesser desires too and God gracefully drew me back!