The man that I consider my most significant mentor, is a man who I have only met once and that was only over lunch. But his books and tapes, however, have had a great impact on my life. His name is James Houston, who for years had the chair of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancover. His book “The Desire – Satisfying the Heart” greating influenced both my head and heart when I first read it in 1990. After I read the book and spent months digesting its message, I finally came to a comfortable understanding that it is ok to be both a thinking and feeling person. The great need was for integration. Dr Houston and Leanne Payne have been formative in my being able to integrate my head and heart. They both have fed both my mind and heart.
Dr. Houston makes this important observation about human nature. “The unsatisfied longing for God is what drives human beings above all else.” He quotes Augustine: “The whole life of the good Christian is a holy longing. What you desire ardently, as yet you do not see…..by withholding of the vision, God extends the longing; through longing he extends the soul, by extending it he makes room in it….So…..let us long because we are to be filled…..that is our life, to be excercised by longing.”
God has filled our heart with desire. The desire is for him. But remember men, if God is not the focus of our desires, they will run amok in all directions, being expressed in unruly passions and diseased emotions. We need to acknowledge that we are passionate men with deep emotions. God has made us that way. The task, and it is a journey of a life time, is the “right ordering of love.” In other words, what we are attached to will rule our desires. Basil Penningtom suggests that our false self is attached to three things: 1) concern about what we have, 2) concern about what we do, and 3) concern about what others think of us. A focus on any of these three will distort our affections for God. We do not, however, need to strive for Godly affections. God has put into our hearts “gracious affections” (Jonathan Edwards). “For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” ( Rom. 5:5).
One more quote from Augustine, “My soul is like a house, small for you to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see: this I know and do not hide.” As we begin to rightly order our affections, the inner space in our hearts in enlarged because we are making room for God. God is then able by His Spirit to renew and restore that which has been in chaos. With more inner space and peace our desires for God are awakened and we desire more of him. Remember again, transformation is an inside job. Jesus promised us, “All who love me will do what I do. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them” (John 14:23).