This very word – DESIRE – stirs something within our hearts: For some it brings up passion and hope, for others it brings up pain and despair, and within others it stirs feelings of fear and concern.
The very word desire comes from the Latin root words De Sire, which literally means “Of the Father”.
If desire is “of the Father”, then why does it sometimes feel as if our deepest desires remain unfulfilled?
Looking for Love
Remember the old song from the 80’s – “Looking for love in all the wrong places…”?
What were they looking for? Where were they looking?
How much has changed over the past 37 years?
For that matter, how much has changed within the heart of man since “the Fall”, as recorded in the book of Genesis?
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
Ever since “the Fall”, man has been looking for what was lost in the Garden. We have been looking everywhere, but what have we found?
“Where are you?” God asks.
How many of us spend our days, even years, looking for love, desire and fulfillment in all the wrong places, hiding away in the garden of despair?
Where has this quest left us?
Longing: left with a massive ache buried within the depths of our heart!
We are searching everywhere, filling the void with any number of substitutes that leave us deeply unsatisfied. We are left longing for more of something that we don’t even know how to seek. Many give up hope.
Where do we find that which our hearts long for?
Ping Pong Balls under water
We have a tendency to sabotage our true desires by either gratifying them falsely, or running from our fear of disordered desire. As a result, we tend to bury the deep longings of our hearts. Over time, these unmet longings find a way to sneak out sideways in search of gratification. We then fall into shame, condemnation and self effort to try to discipline ourselves to do better next time… the cycle continues.
The problem is, desire is a very strong force and trying to suppress desire is like trying to hold a ping pong ball under water. Eventually it’s going to find it’s way to the surface.
As my brother Bob likes to teach at some of our conferences (JP II Healing Center): Behind every disordered desire is an unmet pure and holy desire.
So what do we do? How do we satisfy the true and holy desires within our heart?
Ignoring desire doesn’t’ work. Suppressing desire doesn’t work. Replacing desire doesn’t work. Sabotaging desire doesn’t work. Living from disordered desire doesn’t work. What does?
Living a life of true desire is what works.
Jesus says in, in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Jesus came that we may have Abundant Life! Sounds like Desire to me!
So how? How do we live in desire and not be led astray by our sin and disordered desire?
Delight in the Lord
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
Our Heavenly Father will give us the desires of our heart. Wow. Do we really believe this? I don’t mean, do we believe this theologically. I mean, do we believe this within our hearts – the same heart that has been disappointed, hurt, rejected, disillusioned…?
Do we really believe deep within our heart that the Father cares about our desire, and wants to fulfill our desire?
According to Psalm 37:4, it appears that the secret to fulfilled desire is to delight in the Lord. “So, if I worship God and delight in him, he will give me his desires within my heart. OK… well, I hope I like his desires.” That is what I once understood this passage to mean. I would then condemn myself when desire wasn’t met, assuming it was because I wasn’t worshipping Him enough.
I then heard someone explain the deeper meaning of the word “delight” in this passage, and it started to make more sense. The word “delight” used here in Psalms 37:4 is the word: anag (aw-nag’) which means “to be soft or pliable”.
To delight in the Lord means to be soft and pliable before the Lord, like clay in the hands of The Potter:
But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Jeremiah 18:4
As we are soft and pliable in the hands of the Lord He prepares us for the desires of our heart – both His and ours! Like a good Potter, He works out the impurities and works into our hearts true passion and longing. The more pliable we are to His workings within us, the more He awakens pure desire within our hearts. Our desires and His desires begin to become one.
Our Deepest Desire:
Believe it or not, the very answer to man’s quest for fulfilled desire rests within the very first pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for…” CCC 27
The desire for God is written within the human heart.
To grasp this more fully it may be of benefit to briefly visit the three major words in this Catechism quote: God, Heart, Desire.
God: When Moses asked God who was sending him, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM...” (Exodus 3:14) That pretty much sums it up: God is who He is! He is EVERYTHING we want. He is all we need. God is good. God is Love. God is the Great I AM!
Heart: The dictionary defines heart as “the innermost or central part” (Dictionary.com). The Catechism of the Catholic Church says it this way: “…The heart is our hidden Center… the place of decision… the place of life or death… the heart is the place of Encounter…”CCC 2463.
Desire: The dictionary defines desire this way: “long for; crave, want.” (Dictionary.com). As we have already discussed, the root of the word De Sire is “Of the Father”.
Bottom line: Only in God does our heart find the fulfillment we so longingly desire.
We have heard it said that there are two basic ways to learn wisdom: Through those who have gone before us, or through heartache and pain.
What do you say we save ourselves the heartache and stop “looking for love in all the wrong places” and start seeking our heart’s desire in the only place it can be satisfied?
A car owner doesn’t contact a fisherman when he needs to get his car repaired. He contacts a mechanic . When in need, we contact someone who knows about the matter. Yet when it comes to the deepest longings of our heart why do we look everywhere else except the place our heart is drawing us? There is only One who truly knows the human heart:
“…only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully…” CCC 2463
“The desire for God is written in the human heart… Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for…” CCC 27
Our heart longs for an encounter with the living and Almighty God. That is our greatest desire.