Last year I read John Eldredge’s book, “The Journey of Desire”. It’s one of those books that you can read without really reading it. What I mean by that is that the message is so potentially life-changing that the temptation is to finish the book so that you don’t have to think about it any more. The message of the book (distilled down to a simple statement) is that the Christian life is not about killing our desires, but about recognizing that God is speaking to us through our desires and that it is only through Him that our deepest desires can truly be fulfilled. That is a wonderful message, but when you take a serious look at that in contrast to how we typically live our daily lives it can be terrifying. If we really open our hearts to what we truly desire the first sensation isn’t fulfillment, it is deep longing. It is the realization that the life we are living much of the time is a pale imitation of the real thing, hardly worthy of the title “life”. It is much easier to just put our heads down and get things done. And if we are tired, just drink another cup of coffee and grind on through.
I find that I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I really want, other than the desire to get through with enough things to read some of the books I want to read. The truth is, I don’t want to think about it because when I do, I find that I tend to settle for “good enough”. I don’t really like my job but it pays the bills (and barely at that, some months) but I struggle to put myself out there and see if there really is something better. Plus, I don’t want to be irresponsible. My family and I have struggled financially enough to know that a foolish decision money-wise can cause a lot of heartache. So, I just keep on going. I go through seasons where I really seek God deeply but I find myself backing away when my heart is really waking up. Why? Because it reminds me of what I am lacking, it easily gets profoundly uncomfortable. But regardless of how often I default to personal comfort and routine, those pesky longings for something more just won’t go away. Staring this reality in the face I have come to a startling conclusion. My discontent is one of the greatest gifts that God has ever given me. He loves me way too much to let me settle. My restlessness is the one thing that is driving me more toward the Lord than all of my other motivations combined. I feel like Peter when many of the followers of Jesus were abandoning Him after His difficult words found in the gospel of John, chapter 6. Jesus looked at the twelve and asked them if they were going to leave as well. Peter’s words were telling, “Lord where else are we going to go?” Lord knows I have tried more than once to just push my desires down and be happy with a “nice life”. It would be great to get a little money in the bank, get the household projects done, pay the bills and take a nice vacation here and there and not have to think about anything else. Except it wouldn’t. The truth is that the worst thing that I could ever do is push my desires down and aim for a “nice life”. I was made for more than that and so were you.
So how do you handle the longing for something more? Do you just do the best you can, grab the moments when you can get them and live with the ache? There is a riskier path, one that actually chooses to believe that longing can actually be fulfilled. I’m not talking about mid-life crisis nonsense, trying to recapture lost youth. That’s a counterfeit and we all really know that (even though some willfully choose to forget). What path shall you and I choose? Do I believe that my longings are God-given and worth fighting for? Do I believe that they were put there to ultimately be fulfilled? Do I believe that God’s love is ultimately the only place that they will be fulfilled? Do I? Do you?