Lessons for the first-half crowd
Subject: Spiritual Desire
This is the first in a series of short letters, addressed to what I call, first-half-of-lifer’s. There are lessons for all ages, but in the first half of life, God is like a farmer, who spreads manure across fallow acres to fertilize and ready the heart single hearted devotion. Let these letters act as the manure spreader.
“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” Psalm 27
What do you want so badly, that you would change your life to get it?
If you can answer that, then you know there no short cuts to living out the answer. I’m older now, able to look at patterns and mystery from the rear view, and this one thing I’ve learned. Our journey’s, rarely if ever, take a straight course. You are full of dreams, passions and a vague sense of your inadequacies. The duel temptation you face is letting duplicity and contingency hack away at your spiritual desire. Contingency isn’t bad, actually it’s part of one good definition of faith in Hebrews 11 ( “hoped for, not seen”) On the other hand, duplicity is a byproduct of rash decisions, fearful appraisals, and loss of perspective. All part and parcel of our fallen DNA. God designs the first half of life to replace duplicity with single-hearted desire, by letting us navigate the tests of contingency with grace and truth. You may want to read that last sentence again.
EM Bounds said it well; “The secret of faintheartedness, lack of importunity, want of courage and strength in prayer is the fearful token of that desire having ceased to live.” Desire, as he explains it, wants only one thing. If we have more than one, our devotion divided, we run the risk of duplicity. The saint who knows what he wants, and is willing to press heaven for it, will soon find that desire pays a dividend. He will hear something original and designed for him, and only him, out of the heart of God.
Spiritual desire looks different for everyone. My expression, which may seem a little comical as I put in my ‘office hours’ with dancing, doesn’t look like my neighbors who perhaps sits quietly by a stream. Desire has a thousand faces, but they all look to one Heart.
When the day has passed, and your tired frame sinks into the mattress, eyes folded down like a well-read newspaper, do you listen? When the demands are done, and the deadlines met, and the fires put out, and words are all spoken, do you seek to listen? Or is your mind still alive with thoughts running over each other? These are the tests to see how badly your heart wants it. Wants the pulsing energy of life in the Spirit. Wants whatever happened or didn’t today to be swallowed by joy.
The true path to spiritual desire is not ascent, but descent. First-halfer’s enjoy climbing, and rarely want to give ground. But remember, it was a brave ambitious centurion who saw Jesus’ life ebb away, caught gazing into the Divine he saw something far deeper than blood, pain and thirst. The veil had lifted, and into this unbelieving man, a seed of desire was poured. “Truly, this man was God.” When asked about his day, he had no cliché to offer, for none exists in the face of reality. God had spread manure, as he prepared a heart to see and want something more.
When you see what God sees for your life, you desire it above all things.