Remember that thing that you wanted?
I mean really wanted. Perhaps it was a relationship. A job. A house. (Okay, let’s face it, it was probably a relationship. Few things get us as worked up as wanting Mr. or Miss Right to come into our lives.)
Whatever it was, you wanted it and you weren’t getting it. You prayed. Cried. Begged. Pleaded. Prayed more. Maybe you even tried fasting. But nothing was working (by working, of course we mean, nothing was getting us what we wanted.)
At some point you heard someone mention that, like you, they once struggled with a similar desire that was now met. You pay close attention as they revealed the secret. Often the story goes something like this; “Once I laid it down…just stopped wanting it, I got it.” Almost like magic.
The gears in your brain start whirling…”Oh, that’s the secret…once I don’t want it, then God will give it to me. Or once I can want it less than I want him…or something like that.”
So we begin the mental contortions of making ourselves stop wanting the thing so that God will give it to us. (Which somehow kinda seemed to make sense while we were actually doing it.)
We’d even say we no longer wanted it, hoping that if we said that enough, over time we might actually start to believe it.
Eventually, perhaps we got it…probably more often we didn’t.
In retrospect, I believe it would be far worse for us to actually get the thing in question. At least as far as how we would relate to God going forward.
Because if it worked (there’s that phrase again) most likely we’d walk away from that experience believing we’ve discovered a new way to get what we want from God. Another formulaic way to relate to God. “5 easy ways to get what you want from God!”
Now, desire isn’t bad. And the goal for the person following Jesus is NOT to become a person with no desires. At the same time, we are all likely in need of some transformation in the area of our desires.
So while we don’t seek to be desire-free, we do seek contentment in every situation. If God changes this situation, great. If he doesn’t…I still trust him.
Rather than seeing God simply as the one who provides me with good stuff (which he is of course), we begin learning to relate to him as the one who is good. I don’t need other stuff to satisfy me, because it is in him that all my needs and desires are met.
There’s a passage of scripture that tells us that God will give us the desires of our heart. Which we often interpret as, “Okay, these are the desires of my heart…when is God going to start giving them to me?”
But I don’t believe that is it at all.
Growing and maturing in Christ leads to God actually giving our heart it’s desires. We are becoming so much like Jesus that our appetites/needs/wants, change. Just like the song says, that other stuff starts to “grow strangely dim”. We are being transformed to the point where we start to want what he wants.
Before the summer of 2010 I had said on more than a couple of occasions, “I don’t ever want to plant another church.”
Yet after an extended time of asking what he wanted me to do with the rest of my life, the overwhelming desire in my heart was to move to Dublin and plant a church. No mental gymnastics necessary.
(Of course I still want an iWatch when they come out next year, even though I have only seen pictures. I guess the whole thing is a bit of a process and not an overnight transformation.)
Is there a situation in your life that you want God to change? How will you be if it doesn’t change?