Heart Desires: The deepest, most central ‘core’ of the human soul is, in biblical terminology, the heart. The heart is the center of many different activities – intellectual, willful, emotional, spiritual activities. But the most basic, the most elemental, the most vital function of the heart is something we call desiring, longing or yearning. Our desires, those mysteriously compelling forces from deep within, drive our behavior.
Alluring: At age twelve I experienced a sudden and lasting ‘desire’ when I first saw a 1963 split window Corvette coupe. America’s first real sports car had been re-designed and I found it to be captivating and alluring. I wanted one both before and after I was old enough to drive and even now when I am of sufficient age to know better! The longing continues. But it is now a harmless passion which arises from time to time, amusing and reminding me that God purposefully created ‘desire’ to be powerful and influential.
Driven by Desire: Desires come in many varieties. We have superficial desires and we have deep desires. We have logical longings and mysterious yearnings. We have what Apostle Paul calls fleshly desires and, thankfully, Godly desires. My longing to own a classic Corvette is superficial. My longing to know God is deep – the deepest of all desires. But we often choose to embrace the superficial and fleshly rather than the deep, Godly longings. Fortunately, spiritual formation targets our desires: we are invited to regularly examine and embrace them, allow them to be rightly ordered and timely transformed by the Holy Spirit. We are to consistently cultivate and purposefully exercise our highest passions – God wants our behavior to be driven by righteous desires which honor Him and satisfy our heart’s longing to enjoy Him. This is the vital ‘aliveness’ God desires for us. “This is why holiness is not deadness; it is passion. It is being more attuned to our desires, to what we were truly made for and therefore what we truly want” (John Eldredge, Dare to Desire, J. Countryman Publ., 2002).
Desire by Design: God has created our hearts with a deep void, an emptiness which only He can fill. This void can be described as our hunger for God, our thirst for His Spirit, our desire to know, love and trust Him, our yearning to be more like Jesus – beloved and led by the Spirit. So we open ourselves to Him and we can never get enough of Him. Each real taste of God is wonderfully satisfying and leaves us longing for another taste. To be satisfied by God is to further grow our hunger for more. Even when the busyness, chaos and pain of life confuses us, distracts us and numbs our sense of wanting God, the desire remains. When our lives are broken by loss and sin (and maybe especially during these times), our yearning for God continues. So we must be called back, yet again, to a sensitivity, an awareness of and responsiveness to our desire for God. It is the most important, most captivating and alluring passion we will ever know. It’s the deepest and best cry of our hearts.
Vulnerability: Living by desire is risky and makes us vulnerable. Our surface desires are distractions and our distorted desires stand as stumbling blocks. Allow these dangers to enhance your dependency on God. He is passionate about healing and directing our life-by-desire. He clearly puts first things first:
"God tells us to love him with all our hearts and all our souls, with all our minds and all our strength. It’s not a burden but a rescue, a trail out of the jungles of desire. When we don’t look for God as our true life, our desire for him spills over into our other desires, giving them an ultimacy and urgency they were never intended to bear. We become desperate, grasping and arranging and worrying over all kinds of things, and once we get them, they end up ruling us.
All we truly need is God. Prone to wander from him, we find we need all sorts of other things. Our desire becomes insatiable because we’ve taken our longing for the Infinite and placed it upon finite things. God saves us from the whole mimetic mess by turning our hearts back to him.
All the other desires find their place as we give God his place. That is why the psalmist urges us, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart’ (Ps. 37:4)." (John Eldredge, The Journey of Desire, Thomas Nelson, 2000)
Prayer: O God, I have tasted some of Your goodness and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. Help me to hunger and thirst for the best things. I confess that often I am unaware of what You desire for me. O God, I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty; I want Your desires to become my desires. Enable me to sit and delight in Your presence while You warm my soul and grow the desires of my heart. In Jesus name, I pray. (prayer patterned after A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Christian Publ., 1982)