A good desire is evidence of the nature of God
But, before we obtain our earthly desires, does God want us to love Him above all else?
I was riding to church on Pentecost Sunday and saw a lost cat sign. I had a flashback to when I was a kid, and the family cat got lost. I was sad and shocked the week after. But, eventually, I came to peace with the news. I was lying on the bed, maybe coloring or drawing with my sister while my mom did work nearby. And I said something to the extent of:"You know, if she doesn't come back... I'll be okay."
Almost as soon as I said that, my dad came into the room holding the cat, and we erupted with excitement.
So, I was thinking about the timing of that event and relating it to prayers and desires I have brought to God. I have come to think that when making decisions, we can't ignore desires. Of course, desires can be misguided and distorted and replaced with something that mimics them but does not ultimately fulfill them. And desires can, unfortunately, be ordered to the highest obeisance. But… they can also be ordered under God’s authority as a loving Father, Lover, and Friend. And when they are ordered under God, our desires become creative and expansive and shows us the nature of God.
So it seems that, ideally, God wants to show us, not just that our desires are good, but more importantly, that the Maker of them is so good. Desires symbolize the Nature and Face of God - they give us hints of our future union with Him.
Receiving a desire from God is like getting up on Christmas morning and finding that gift you hardly dare dream of – maybe an amazing Lego set - under the tree. And finding that it was even bigger and better than you imagined it. But, the night before, you had told your parent: "Don’t worry – I don’t need to have it if you don’t want me to." Maybe, you realized that it was sold-out or expensive for them - and you kind of realized, objectively, for yourself, it could take up a lot of space in your room.
But, for some reason, by not having been bound by that desire – while still knowing it is good, in a content and peaceful way that does not have to have it – you were all the more grateful to receive it. And, perhaps, after opening it, you immediately rush into your mother and father's arms. You are so grateful - the gratefulness has just been magnified - that all you want to do is stay in their arms a few minutes before descending from their embrace to play with the toy. And maybe when you come down to play with the toy, you begin to show them the toy, which they specifically chose for you. But seeing you delight in it gives them overflowing joy. Such is it with God. He is the parent, and we are the children.
So, I think that a dimension to doing discernment with desires is that they have to be ordered under God. And understood that they are good because God made them – and often tailor-made. For another person, a desire might not be optimal, but for you, it might be because God made you for it.
And, when desires are ordered below under God's wisdom, we can rationally see their benefits and downsides. Because nothing in this life is perfect. With this understanding, no one can boast that what they want is necessarily more perfect than another person’s want.
Have you ever had a question or petition, in prayer, answered only after your heart had given it up to God’s will? Perhaps, after years of not receiving it, you come to rest in enjoying God and knowing that since He is so good, He is all you need. But, after that ordering of love of God above all else, God might have then answered that prayer.
Why would God do it like this? Maybe He knows that if we receive the things we desire without knowing their context, our excitement over them will easily fizzle – we will get overwhelmed and not know the full capacity of their use.
For instance, gold itself is kind of pretty and shines, but if we don’t know its nature we don’t know that it can also be molded and turned into jewelry and even used for medicine and technology. For our desires, when we fully realize what can be done with them through God’s knowledge, we get to know the nature of the Creator and fall deeper in love with Him! But, when we don’t approach our desires through God, they become idols that take the place of God and end when we no longer know what to do with them.
God delights in giving us the desires of our hearts when we are most in love with Him. He knows what we need, and He knows that fulfilled desires from Him express His goodness for us to delight in, even here on Earth, before being united with Him in heaven.
And, also, when we are most in love with Him we enjoy any gift from Him in its full capacity. Because we know that anything from the one we love will be good and that is enough.
Holy God, give us the desire to love You above all else, preferring You to every other thing and person in the world. Order all of our other desires to the obedience of our love for You. Amen.
“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity.Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.”
“But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”
Bible quotes: NABRE © 2010. CCD. All rights reserved.