The Godly Pursuit of Desire


Yesterday we discussed the sticky wicket of “desire.” Though the True Desire is good and godly, our pursuit of it, outside of God, leads to darkness – placing us in bondage to lesser desires and further away from what our hearts truly long for.

Obviously, the key to pursuing True Desire is God. The Psalms direct us, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desire of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Jesus affirms this in his Sermon, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (including the desires of our hearts) will be yours as well” (Matt. 6:33). As well, Jesus says this about himself, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” The key to pursuing our True Desire is to pursue through Christ. Jesus brings us to the Father and the Father unlocks the desires of our heart as we pursue Him.

This is not rocket science. If we seek God and to do His will, the True Desire of our heart will be fulfilled. It is through the journey of seeking God and doing His will that the True Desire of our hearts becomes known and fulfilled. Yesterday, we discussed that we do not know what our True Desire. We cannot name it, especially early in our journey. We sense it, we feel it, we yearn for it, but we cannot identify it. The only way we begin to understand our True Desire is if we are in the flow of the One who created it within us. As we become more Christ-like, the influence of the flesh is reduced and we begin to recognize aspects of our True Desire: callings become clearer, we see God at work around us, in us and through us. We see greater alignment with the right kind of “lesser desires” (still not able to name the True Desire) and godly character that we are being transformed into. Most of all, we see how everything in our past (not just to positive, but especially the negative) works in a redemptive way toward this True Desire.

There are a few things I’ve learned in this journey toward True Desire:

1. The feeling toward certain desires is a “shadow” of my True Desire. There are “desires” and there is “Desire” (True Desire). I now realize that the “desires” I can name are lesser and need to be scrutinized in the name of Christ and the True Desire He calls me. However, each lesser desire (no matter how lesser or noble or base or altruistic) has at least a “sliver” of the True Desire. It is a shadow of my True Desire. My shadow is not my “person,” but it gives me hints of what my personhood looks like (shape, features, direction). It’s also interesting to note that the greater the “light” that shines on me, the more distinctive my shadow describes me. This leads me to the next thing I’ve learned.

2. I need to “notice”, not judge my lesser desires. A really “good” lesser desire is still not my True Desire. Likewise, a really “bad” lesser desire may reveal something truthful about my True Desire. So before I judge whether a lesser desire is “good” or “bad,” I’ve learned to just notice. Noticing requires discipline, both to not “give in” to lesser fleshly desires (which may lead to sin) nor to jump on a seemingly “godly” desire (which may lead toward a wrong direction). Quick judgment – in either case, is not good. But noticing puts me in the posture of examination.

3. Examine and surrender desires in the presence of God. This is where the “examen” discipline comes into play for me. As I evaluate my day before God, I recall instances where I felt the power of “desire” strongly. I ask God two questions: a) What are You telling me through this desire? b) What do You want me to do with this desire?

I find it interesting that both of the documented cases where Jesus wrestled with desire (the wilderness after His baptism and the Garden of Gethsemane) He examined the desire and surrendered them to God. Here we see Jesus wrestling with “lesser desires”: to meet needs, to be validated as the Son of God, to gain followership, to somehow bring redemption through a way less excruciating than separation from the Father. In both cases, He understood that the True Desire was greater than these worthy desires. In both cases, He surrendered to the Father’s will. And in both cases, He was strengthened through this process to pursue whole heartedly the True Desire that the Father placed in His heart of hearts.

What was Jesus’ true desire?

There is a small, obscure verse in Isaiah 53 that gives us a hint of what Jesus’ true desire was:

“He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” (verse 11a, KJV)

The “travail” of Jesus’ soul was you and me. When Jesus realized that His suffering and death on the Cross would set the love of His life totally free (namely, you and me and humanity), He was satisfied. Jesus’ True Desire was to see us free from the power of sin and death forever. And it is now possible for us, thanks to Jesus’ ultimate act of Whole Life Worship.

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