Friday, July 22, 2005

Our Greatest Desire

A young man, on hearing a wise old philosopher speak, became impressed by his words and demeanor. Captivated by the clear, plain and simple reasoning of the philosopher, the young man thought, "It is a pleasure to hear him." Following the philosopher as he travelled about the land, the young man asked at the first opportunity, “What can I do to be like you? Will you teach me?” Saying nothing, the philosopher kept walking. Thinking that he had not been heard, the young man repeated himself, “I want to be wise like you, will you teach me?” Again the philosopher remained silent, continuing to walk. Puzzled, the young man asked himself, “Why isn't he answering me? Perhaps he is testing me. Maybe he wants to see if I'll persevere -- I'll ask him again." "Wise old philosopher," the young man stated, “why won't you not answer me? I am simply asking you to teach me to be like you." "Please let me know, will you teach me?” The old philosopher, still silent, continued on the path towards the riverside. The young man was still trailing behind him when he stopped just at the water's edge. " I have two questions for you young man," stated the philosopher -- “Is this what you truly desire? and “How badly do you want it?” “Yes, this is what I really want, and I want it badly enough to follow you around and do as you say” responded the young man. Looking down at the water, the philosopher shook his head, looked into the young man’s eyes, and held his gaze. Once more the philosopher asked, “How much do you really want this?” "With grief, the young man replied, “I want this more than anything else in my life!” Gazing in the young man’s eyes, the philosopher said sadly, “You are not ready!” Frustrated now, the young man then yelled, “Yes, I am!” Grabbing the young man by his robe, the philosopher threw him in the water and held him down. Struggling, and sputtering water, the young man could not release himself. He felt he was drowning. Desperately he continued his struggle for life, but to no avail. Just when he felt his last breath giving way, the philosopher pulled him out of the water. Coughing, sputtering, and gasping for air, the young man lay wet and spent on the shore. When at last he quieted, the philosopher said simply, “when you desire what I have as
greatly as you desired to live in the moment when you thought you were drowning, then you will be ready."

Our desire to be with Jesus should be just as intense as the young man’s desire was to live. Its amazing how things are put into perspective when you think you are about to die, isn't it. If you've never experienced the feeling that you were about to die, ask someone who has. Its quite likely he or she will confirm that priorities change in a instant. Many people make promises to God because they feel they are about to die, and they are afraid of being lost forever. This is not the motivation for the intensity of desire for union with Christ that is referred to. Instead, it is the desire for oneness with Him, because of the great and awesome love He has, and is, lavishing on us. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends... " (John 15: 13, 14). Christ should not be just one more desire among many, but our reigning and burning desire.

In the gospels, Jesus has said that He desires that men might have Life, and have it more abundantly (than they have previously had it since the fall of Adam in Eden). He also says that He is the Light of the world which lightens the darkness, He is the Good Shepherd, the Truth, the Way and the Life, and that He is the bread and water of life. He desires us to know this, that we might believe in Him and be sustained by Him through faith, wrought by a heart appreciation of His self-denying, unconditional love for us. Nothing satisfies our deepest desires like Jesus, and nothing ever will.

Many of us desire a spouse, or children, others of us desire a better job, a better car, a bigger home, (and perhaps better neighbors). We even desire nicer clothes, more respect and or love. Indeed, our lives here on earth are filled with desires, many of them legitimate. But Jesus-- our Saviour and Lord-- has said, "seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all of these things will be added unto you ... for I know you have need of these things" (Matt. 6:33, 32).

Our desires are not necessarily what get us into trouble, it is our fulfillment of those desires by ourselves. Oh, many of you no doubt will disagree, stating, "what about the desires that pedophiles or alcoholics or drug addicts have? Certainly these desires are the problem." And you'd be right, partially. Yes, the desires mentioned are problematic for those who have them, and their fulfillment is absolutely detrimental to society. But, most of our desires go much deeper than we can acknowledge. Sometimes we have no words for them, but the Holy Spirit reinterprets our desires with groanings that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26-28). Perhaps the true irony is not that we groan (or desire) but that we do not groan to the right person. For clearer insight, let's look at Luke chapter 11.

Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Luke 11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Luke 11:12
Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

When we don't ask God to fulfill our deepest desires, are we silently accusing Him of giving poor or even bad gifts? Do we think He lacks taste? And furthermore, do we think that we can better fulfill our desires --- that our taste is superior to His? Truly, this isn't meant to be amusing, it is meant to be thought provoking. If we honestly believe that God loves us and wants the best for us, how on earth could we not take our desires to Him and ask that He fulfill them? Perhaps there is the issue of delay -- we don't like God's timing because He makes us wait, and we want our desires fulfilled now! "After all," we acknowledge, "they are clamoring for attention now, not later."

So for many of us, the issue is not our desires, or even our belief that God will fulfill them. No it is His making us wait that we don't like. Well, to put things in perspective, how long would you say this world has been around -- about 6 thousand years or so? Isn't that about accurate? Well, say so and you'd be correct. Keep this in mind and you listen to the deep longing and anguish in the following.

"Christ is waiting with longing desire for the complete reproduction of His character in the people who love Him (His bride). When this happens, then He will come to take (us) home" (COL 69).

How's that for unrequited love? How's that for passionate longing? Christ is waiting, He has been waiting and is still waiting. Not impatiently, as we tend to understand impatience (i.e. "why don't they hurry up and get it together, it isn't My fault, its theirs"), but with longing desire. How long have you desired something? Sometimes it can be heartbreaking while you wait. By our unwillingness to trust Him, we delay His joy. How painful that must be. In choosing to fulfill our individual desires in our own way, you and I deprive Him of demonstrating His awesome love for us in a tangible way. How sad must be the heart of our Redeemer. How He longs to be intimate with us, but He needs oour willingness. Let's not keep our heavenly bridegroom waiting forever.

Revelation (and Song of Songs) have said, " Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will dine with him, and he with Me" (Rev. 3:20; S. of S. 5:2).

Friends, let's open the door to our beloved, for He is beautifully fragrant with love, and will more than satisfy our desires.
Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

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