We are beings designed by God both from desire and for desire. It is futile to try to rid ourselves of desire. In order for wrong and counterproductive desires to lose their grip on our hearts, minds, emotions and ways, they must be displaced by right and healthy desires, not simply denied. Indeed, we must say "no" to sinful desires, which is easier to do when we see their fallout in our lives and relationships. But we must, in turn, say "YES" to better desires. This above verse implies two things. First, that as we become focused on discovering how delightful God truly is, then He promises to weed out the old desires of a self-centered life and plant new desires within us. I call them golden desires. Second, God literally longs and promises to fulfill the desires that His Spirit establishes within our hearts that cause us to live and walk in the rhythms of peace and joy in Christ. So, to "adore" God as a preoccupation is what inevitably leads us to "a door" of living a life of wholehearted satisfaction and joy...even in the midst of a world that is yet weighed down with much pain and perplexity. To adore is to a door! Through this maturing process, we become a vital part of very real and practical divine solutions to human dilemmas.
The first time I heard God speak to me (in a way that I was aware), was when I was 16. I was a confused young man with conflicting powerful desires raging within me and vying for ascendency. I had evolved into a pseudo-intellectual, hippie, jock - an admittedly very strange combination of forces! I was trying on various masks and personas out of the deep insecurity of not knowing who I really was or was called to be. I was not consciously searching for God, though I can now see how the Holy Spirit had been preparing me throughout my childhood to offer my life back to our Heavenly Father.
I deeply resonate with what the great French philosopher Pascal said, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus” When I heard God's voice, I knew it was Him and that I wasn't "okay" on a very deep level...and it scared me. But rather than responding to His invitation to soften my heart and receive what He was offering me, I ran away determined to make myself more presentable to Him someday.
After 2 years, I ran out of energy to resist and I prayed (from a level within my soul that I had never before known even existed), "I give up, You got me." On the spot, I had an undeniable encounter with Jesus Christ that was beyond this world. One of the main things that transpired in that moment was that I intuitively understood that the many powerful desires...warring within me...that had intimidated me and beat me up, were going to be subdued and trumped by a brand new set of even more powerful desires that were attuned to the heart, mind and will of God. This is how the "Golden Desires" get first place in us and recast/reorder all other human desires.
When Jesus literally "came into my heart", He calmed the raging storm of my lust to live in lies any longer and I instantly knew that God Himself has superior desires, longings, yearnings, jealousy and passion than I could ever imagine or manufacture on my own. And...I also soon discovered that the first thing that He was jealously yearning to possess was me...just as I was. He said He loved me and actually wanted me and that He wanted me to want Him back out of wonder and gratitude. So, my first prayers after this were, "Wow!" and "Thank You!". (By the way, those prayers really work!) Oh yes...He wants us all, every human being, in the same way too.
I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. Ezekiel 36:27
Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. Philippians 2:13 The Message
We will not be able to live as "wholehearted" people...wise...and yet...childlike, vulnerable and free, unless we are able to get this matter of desire sorted out more clearly in our lives. To live without desire at the heart of our life-engine is to live a heavy, taxing, futile and grueling existence. How different this kind of life is from what Jesus promised us - "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10b) Still, it's obvious that desires, easily recognized from a distance as counter-productive to abundant life, must be somehow negated. Maybe this sorting out process can be pictured as similar to how miners used to pan for gold. They had to sift out the more lightweight mud, rocks and "fools gold" under rushing water that, given some time and shaking, would simply reveal any heavier weighted gold nuggets that would remain in their pans. As we pursue a spiritual life in Christ, we must realize that we are not after the eradication of desire, but the discovery, elevation and proper placement of the most valuable and satisfying desires possible...Golden Desires, if you will. Too often, the self-denial associated with religion seems to be self-denial for its own sake. But the self-denial promoted by Jesus and His apostles is always vitally linked to an appeal to an even more desirable form of self-fulfillment through knowing and loving God. May we allow the Holy Spirit to sift through the whole range of our desires and make way for the deepest, truest and most valuable ones to win out in our lives. The scriptures reveal that connecting with God Himself meets the deepest need and desire...the hunger and thirst...of the human spirit. “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:6-7) This is nothing less than an ancient prophecy that foretold the coming of Christ...the Desire of All Nations...into the world and how the hearts of people from every nation would, and will yet, be wooed and drawn to His incomparable beauty.
Desires of the human heart have always been a favorite subject of classic stories, movies, plays, poems, myths and fables. We all intuitively know the power of desire from the time we are born into this world. We also know how our desires can get us into trouble in life. Because of this, in Buddhism, desire is often portrayed as the great root evil in the world and therefore, the height of such a spirituality is to rid oneself of desire altogether. The Bible also warns us in many places of the problems caused in the world by our human desires running amok and independently from God's influence. Yet still, in biblical spirituality, God is seen to be full of desire Himself and we are made in His image. Therefore, we are beings of desire through the wonder of being His creation and desire is not something to be rid of. Rather, it is something that God ultimately intends to abundantly satisfy as the four passages below confirm:
You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:16
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7
Indeed, God is "the God of our heart's desires". The implication of this simple thought is that we obviously are often confused and conflicted about what we really need and want and we therefore adopt inferior desires that compete with deeper and more noble ones. We actually need our Heavenly Father to reveal to us what we really need and want. And as those desires rise up to have dominion in our lives, it is those desires that He promises to fulfill. Going through this sorting out process is the essence of what it means to grow in Christ and live in the Holy Spirit.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
One of the main overarching themes of Scripture is that royalty and priesthood were re-wed in Jesus Christ. As we dig into the story of the garden in Eden, we understand that Adam and Eve were not merely stewards of the original creation, but sacred stewards...they were ordained by God to be the high priests of creation, ministering to and communing with God in the original holy of holies and ministering to the earth with delegated divine authority out from that place. There is "temple" language in the first chapters of Genesis, long before the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon were established. After the fall of our first parents, God separated priesthood and royalty in the constitution of Israel, apparently to balance power between different parties. But as Psalm 110 and Zechariah prophesied (and Melchizedek prefigured), royalty and priesthood come together again as one in Jesus. The writer of Hebrews picks up this theme and elaborates on the new order of royal priesthood embodied in Christ as the high priest. And...the implications for us as His sons and daughters, are great as well, as Peter's, quote above, confirms. To jump to the bottom line for us...we are called to live in a priestly and royal fashion in this world. We are sacred stewards of 1) the gospel or the "big news" of Christ...the power of the new creation. And 2) God's original creation, the "good earth", that is promised redemption and renewal through the resurrection and ascension of Christ. As such, we are honored to take up into our metaphorical "arms" the nations of people and the raw materials of creation that God has invested in the earth, add to them our creative love and service and offer it all back up to God as an offering. From this way of worship, God promises to bless what we offer, crown it with His salvation grace and give it back to us to employ and multiply for His honor and that of His Son and the good of all creation. Being a royal priest by being joined to Jesus, as a core element of our personal identity, changes the way we awake in the morning, engage our world and go to bed at night.
I believe that we have entered a new era or phase in the history of God's work upon the earth in this generation. 500 years ago a central and essential biblical revelation was all but lost to the world. It was buried beneath the rubble of Western "churchianity" and all the wars, illiteracy, religious superstitions, sociopolitical oppression and hardship that accompanied the "dark ages". But God's Spirit was on the move and He raised up various breeds of spiritual reformers who rediscovered the vital apostolic truth that it is "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) If God's prophets at that time had predicted that this simple truth and experience would, over the next 500 years, transform the understanding of Christianity and that it would spread like a fire around the world drawing multiplied millions and millions of people from every continent to childlike faith in Jesus of Nazareth, they probably would have been quickly written off as wacko's. But that is exactly what has happened in the earth...with exponential acceleration in the last century. This foundational truth has now taken such deep root in the hearts and minds of so many people, it will never be lost again. God has won the intense spiritual battle over the true nature of personal salvation.
However, there is another intense spiritual battle that has reasonably followed that must also now be won in this age. It is a battle for God's precious daughters and sons to experimentally discover many more facets of God's true and better nature and how we are being invited to access, demonstrate and enjoy the greater inheritance that Jesus died, rose again and ascended into heaven to freely share with us. Seeing the "face" of God as our Savior, is meant to inaugurate an unfolding dynamic relationship and journey by which we see and experience many more facets or "faces" of God that naturally-supernaturally leads us to partner with Him to see His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We do not stop with the experience of Ephesians 2:8-9, as too much "fundamentalism" has unwittingly done, but we experience it as a Divine platform set beneath us to launch us into the wonder and awe of Ephesians 2:10 - "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works that comes from powerfully discovering that God is bigger and better and closer to us than we have imagined. By the way, this second reformation has already been inaugurated by the Lord and it will spread like a fire all over the earth!
In cultural terms, hope is often equated with mere wishful thinking that is not very substantial and is often scorned as living in a kind of fantasy world. But in Biblical terms, hope is a powerful grace to be received as a gift from God and also a virtue to be cultivated. The Spirit of God whispered to me that hope has been a "Cinderella sister" to faith and love, but that "she is a queen" and that He is going to give her "a coming out party" in the coming days and "put her on display". After much study, prayer and pondering, this is the working definition that I am working with for hope: Hope is a present joy...a state of being that confidently anticipates a better future reality based on God's commitment to demonstrate His goodness and greatness here and now and forevermore.
People who live in divine hope are not living with their heads in the clouds. Rather, they are living with their heads above the clouds! They perceive the face(s) of God, or facets of His nature, with the eyes of their hearts. Furthermore, their feet are planted firmly on the earth and they become channels of bringing heaven to earth through the power of the Holy Spirit working within and through them in practical and tangible ways. God is raising up millions of "hope reformers" in our generation who do not curse the darkness in the world, but who simply turn on the light within their sphere of influence. They won't live in reaction to the pains and perplexities of the world, but will live in joyful and peaceful response to what the Spirit of God is saying and doing. Ask God to include you and me "in that number"!
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a Child of God, a Husband, a Father and a Grandfather. I enjoy putting my prayers and thoughts into words.