I have referred to James Houston in previous posts. When I was beginning to enter the deep stream of historic spirituality, with its emphasis on spiritual formation and direction, Dr Houston was my shining light. I consider him my mentor in the faith over the last 20 years. In his book “Heart’s Desire” he makes this statement, “The unsatisfied longing for God is what drives human beings above all else.” I have been pondering longings and desires as I prepare for another “wildman Saturday” here at canaan. The talk of desire, longings and especially passions has been a difficult area for me and most men I have known. Christian men can be confused and troubled by desires. Yet the Psalmist exhorts us with these words, “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart.”
So what about deep desires? They are the result of being created in the image of God. God has so constituted a man to have deep desires. They are not to be denied. These desires are meant to lead to intimacy with God. That’s why they are desires. “The journey of desire” observes David Benner,”may lead us to byways and cul-de-sacs, but if we follow it we will utimately be led to the Divine Beloved. We may not know what it is we long for but our deepest longings are God given because they always point toward the Divine.” I want to say an “amen” to his observation. I spend a lot of years trying to either deny or feel shame about some of my deepest desires. But since I have befriended my desires, embraced them, and examined them in the awareness of God’s love for me, I have tasted more freedom and authenticity. It causes me to be more fully alive, rather than trying to be in control.
So I have two observation about desires. First you are a man with deep desires and passions. Some are good and some are not very pleasing in God’s sight. But guess what! God sees the “fire in your belly.” He knows that there is a lot of sorting out to do. You are a product of background with a unique story to tell. You have “molten desires” that have affected you and others around you. Don’t live in denial or in some kind of spiritual improvement program to get control. You will never be able to do it. My advice is to let it all out before the Lord – the good, the bad and the ugly. Bring it all into the light, allowing God to sort out your confused cauldron of desires. Listen to Paul advice in Ephesians, “Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ” (Eph 5:11-12 – The Message)
The second observation is that of trying to crucify our passions and desires. That is what I was doing during my early years of walking with the Lord. I didn’t know any better; there was no teaching or any mentor to help me. But thankful I learned through the rich spiritual tradition that there are passions and desires that are from God. Many of the great mystics who have so deeply influenced to tradition were passionate lovers of God. Yes, there are disorder desires that need to brought into the light. But in this blog I want to shout it out. “Allow yourself to taste your deepest desires.” Don’t go around trying to be this niece, docile man of God. You have God given passion that is to be expressed uniquely through your personality and life story. Yes, you fill face some cross currents of disordered desires, but you will also begin to sense your unique godly drive and passion. Go for it, even when the seas get little rough as you shift through what is godly and what is ungodly. Come out of that cave of darkness and into the liberating light of God’s love and grace found in Jesus.