This is a “mid-life” conversation. Folks in their twilight years are past these conversations, for the most part, either resigned or resolved to “real life.” Folks younger are still grappling with issues that are typically on a lower plane of importance, though they wouldn’t consider them so. But I am having conversations almost every day with people in their 40’s and 50’s who, if they have a truly BIG unrealized desire, are not sure what in the world to do with the depth of it. “Shouldn’t the intensity have waned by now? Is it cruel (in which case I think I might need to blame someone, probably God) that I still feel so strongly? If my head knows better about it, why won’t my heart feel better about it? Should I stop asking God about it? Should I be asking differently?”
“Now hope that is seen
is not hope.
For who hopes
for what he sees?
But if we hope
for what we do not see,
we wait for it with patience.”
A few things keep laying claim to the fore of my mind…
- I live in a day and age and in a nation where greed rules as opportunity wane, perhaps on a deeper level than any time in history. I am trained and encouraged to consume, to desire, to long for what will satisfy my egocentricity. I am even introduced to God as a possible means to gain what I desire.
- I live in a very broken world with very broken people. I am broken. But my dreams and desires often don’t take that into account.
- The world is not as God intended for it to be, not yet redeemed. I have a tenacious adversary that knows my weaknesses, AND there is a constant internal war taking place between my flesh and spirit.
- There are desires that stem from different places within me. Some are ALL about me. Some are about someone else. Some are about making a contribution so that a cause might advance in some way. Some are about God and His Kingdom “now and not yet.”
- I love a God who makes lavish provision for me; who is always at work on my most pertinent point of need (according to His great wisdom); who NEVER withholds from me what I need; who loves to give good gifts to me (as He defines good); who stores up treasure for me as I serve Him; who has grafted me into His family so that I have an inheritance that cannot be quantified by any known system of measuring.
- As a Christ-follower, I’m called to love God with the whole of who I am and love others as Jesus loves. Everything else hinges on that command. If that call to love does not PROFOUNDLY and progressively influence my longings, something core is amiss.
If you did the exercise in my last post, The Faces of Desire, it might be interesting to sit with The Lord with that paper in one hand, and slowly move through the points listed above this paragraph. I’m sure you can think of many other things that could be added to the list above… but there is enough there to make this point: There are influences from within me and from without that shape my desires. The more I know about that, the more I will understand how I’ve come to hold tightly to what I do. That is vital information to have. More importantly, I have a God who invites me to place ALL desire into His hand, to let Him take charge of them ALL.
Whatever it feels like to offer them to Him… whatever inner turmoil I might grapple with as I struggle to leave them in His hands, I hold, that until I surrender, I will NEVER approach a state of peace or contentment, nor will I do much good demonstrating love of God or love of people. I cannot, at the same time, be preoccupied with unrealized desires and be present in the moment before me. That’s double-mindedness.
I believe the end of the Age of Grace is at hand. There is Kingdom work to be done. We must field all invitations that would keep us consumed with lesser loves. We must invite Jesus into every nook and cranny of our inner-person so that NOTHING inhibits me from loving Him and loving others. We must trust Him to keep and if need be transform our deepest, oldest, strongest desires. We are being made into the likeness of Jesus; coming into the fullness of who we are as adopted sons and daughters.
“For to set the mind
on the flesh is death,
but to set the mind on the Spirit
is life and peace.”