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Ordering Our Desires

Psalm 73:25. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”

Can we say a hearty and honest ‘amen’ to Asaph’s prayer? Do we find our spirits resonating with his heart’s longing to know God more deeply as our first priority, desiring Him more than water or air?

Scripture tells us that in fact, all of mankind, made in God’s image, by design are oriented towards God for their fullest satisfaction and deepest joy, whether or not they are able to rightly interpret the language of their souls’ longings for God, or in the blindness of sin, pursue satisfaction elsewhere. With clarifying insight, Jeremiah exposes the folly of pursuing desires that are secondary to God, likening it to a man who expends great energy and cost to build a container for life (‘living water’) only to realise all he can create is a deep empty, leaky hole: Jer 2:13 For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

It’s not that desires for love, comfort, achievement or material goods are inherently bad (although it is possible they become so!). In fact, Scripture reminds us that all good things are gifts from our Good Father to be enjoyed. But it’s when we feel we must have something, that these disordered desires become very poor masters. In God’s Kingdom, He has set things up so that we only get to experience what life is all about, when we work within His order and keep God as our first desire or first love (Revelation 2:4). When He rules our hearts we flourish!

In the Psalms we get to overhear some very honest conversations with God. They give us language to voice our own desires and lament our lack of desire for God.

So why not have a go at turning your inner conversation God-ward, putting words to your desires and writing your own psalm today?

When we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit we inevitably see things we would rather not. But don’t allow shame or “religiosity” cause you to hide from that self-knowledge. God already knows you completely: Psalm 139:4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. Take courage from the Psalmist’s honesty, tell Him about what has ruled your heart and trust that God’s desire is towards you, no matter how disordered your desires have become.

Here’s a suggested framework to help you craft your own psalm:

  1. Identify a specific challenging situation in your life that you want to talk to God about. (Remember that challenges to our spiritual health come not only in times of difficulty but also in times of ease and abundance!) Have you had an argument with a family member? Have your dreams been dashed? Have you been misunderstood or unjustly judged? Have you fallen into the same sin that you promised God wouldn’t happen again? Have you become complacent about someone else’s suffering? Bring to your memory everything about these moments.
  • Tell God honestly how you feel in this situation.
  • Talk to God about what you want. What desires have surfaced and become clearer by what has happened? What longing to have/to avoid has driven you to behave in the way you did? Can you recognise ruling desires which you serve (as idols) in the hope that they will deliver life?
  • Invite the Holy Spirit to again preach the Good News of a Saviour, come to rescue you from all other tyrant rulers, to bring you under the rule of His love. What does He want you to know about where your heart will find joy and peace? Sit quietly until you hear His voice above all the others.
  • Pray God, by the power of His grace at work in your heart, will so reorder your desires, that you will want Him more than anything else in heaven or earth. Respond to God’s invitation to know Him, through appropriate repentance and faith. Forsake all other desires and return “HOME” to your resting place in Him.
  • How will this response of faith in God, now get walked out in love in your relationship with others? What will you do or say differently and how will you choose to love others well? How will your life ‘preach’ the liberating Gospel to those around you?

Now use these words and write a psalm of true heart worship to God!

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