Our pesky desires . . that's where I left off in my last post.
So, is that Buddhist implying that desire is evil -- that we're supposed to get rid of all our desires? That we should stop wanting anything we don't have? Sounds a bit extreme. What about your desire for your family's safety? What about your desire for world peace . . or a just society . . or for the needy kid down the block to have a warm coat for the winter? Eliminating those desires will eliminate all motivation to do good.
Psalm 103 (one of my favorites) says that God satisfies the desires of our hearts with good things. If God chooses to act to satisfy those desires, then desire itself must not be evil. However, some of our desires are apparently evil -- James says we are "dragged away and enticed by our own evil desires." Hmmmm.....
So, how do we decide which desires to chuck and which to pursue? No simplistic churchy replies, please. It's just not that simple.
One time, a small group of women friends from our church in Springfield were getting together to pray about a particular issue in the church. It was a hot-button one, and none of us could honestly say we were neutral about it. We knew exactly what we wanted to happen. Our words were, "Your will be done" -- but we were quickly convicted of the fact that our hearts were hoping to rope God into doing our will. We all wrestled with our attitudes for quite a while before finally coming to a point where we could truly say we wanted whatever it was that God wanted -- even if it was the opposite of our desires.
I've discovered that, in many such times, when God doesn't seem to be making His will clear, it's because He knows there's no point. I mean, God doesn't speak to exercise His vocal cords -- He speaks to be heard and obeyed. And if He knows I have no real intention of hearing and obeying, He's not going to bother to speak. Maybe it's that frame of mind that steals away our peace. That's when our desires are evil.
Peace is freedom from want and fear, my president tells me.
What do I want? . . . I want to sleep, and sleep well. I have little peace in my life these days because my desire for that is so strong. This feels to me like a legitimate and "righteous" desire (there's even scripture to back me up -- Ps 127:2 -- God "grants sleep to those he loves"). But after months and months of His NOT satisfying that desire with any good thing, I'm left with questioning either the faithfulness of God or the righteousness of my desire.
But am I really neutral here? Am I willing to live like this for the rest of my life if that's what God wants for me? Would I willingly welcome the daily fog of fatigue if God has some purpose in it? Or will I continue to rage at the perceived injustice of it all? Perhaps the Buddhist is less wrong about the source of suffering than he is about the value of that suffering. Perhaps a faithful God is satisfying my desire with a good thing, but I'm stubbornly refusing to see the goodness in it.
I don't know if any of the rest of you understood that bit of rambling I just did, but I needed to do it. Pray for me to get there, friends. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.