Delight and Desire
When’s the last time you thought about what you really desire? We seldom dwell on our deepest, primordial yearnings in such concrete terms, but it’s a highly useful exercise. Consider this question: What is it that I absolutely want from/for my life? What do I consider success? Sometimes, in order to identify desire, we need to use the mirror of delight. What brings joy to us and makes us happy? Where do we get our greatest source of satisfaction? When do we feel the most gratified? Chances are, where you find your delight, you will uncover your desire.
Delight and desire are the plutonium core of the soul. Twin sides of the same coin, they’re the critical mass within that get us fired up and moving. Our dreams, schemes and goals are fueled by the consuming nature of these substances. They catapult us over life’s obnoxious hurdles and painful seasons. Delight and desire act as a compass, reorienting us on the horizon of our time and energy, and refocusing our attention past negative feedback. At times, swept up in an avalanche of rapidly morphing circumstances or unexpected environments, these vital spiritual gyroscopes can become totally kurfluggiied. We experience profound disorientation; it’s akin to being caught in a mental blizzard. Not knowing what we want, what makes us happy, causes us to despair of life itself.
Touch the heart of desire, and you touch the heart of a person’s authentic identity. Such volatile and hazardous substances must be handled with respect. Try throwing Nitroglycerin around and see how well that turns out for you. As powerfully instinctual and necessary as desire can be, unfortunately, it can also be highly deceptive. How many times have you said to yourself “When I get my (insert here: degree, dream job, family, marriage, child, etc) I’ll be truly happy!” We blissfully strive towards our goal, only to find ourselves at the culminating moment in an anticlimactic suspension. This isn’t the way I thought I’d feel. Is that all? Hmmmh. A series of these expectation/fulfillment cycles leave us with a bad taste, jaded by the effort and haunted by the feeling of failure; of never-quite-getting there. As delightful as our God-given desire is, it’s got some glitches. It’s been corrupted, and it’s trying to function in a fallen world.
The other day, a friend and I were recounting similar circumstances in which each of us had cause to re-examine the nature of our desire. Independently, we experienced parallel situations. Suddenly, we found ourselves ‘living the dream’; the description of a life we thought (as young twenty-somethings) we wanted. By Divine intervention, we unexpectedly found ourselves standing in the very midst of that reconstructed drama as objective observers. If you had asked us to describe the careers we would chose, men we would have married, the lifestyle we preferred; it was all there. It was eerily similar to one of those movies you see at Christmas time where someone is shown a flashback on the life they could have lead, if they’d made different choices. This perfect life we thought we wanted, when walked around and viewed from several angles, incited no envy. Amazingly, there was no regret. My friend and I have walked a path of faith and obedience that ended up looking nothing like our young, inward visions. We’re light-years away. Of course, we still have hopes of some delayed dreams being fulfilled. Of course, there have been moments of stumbling, stupid decisions, bitter relationship lessons and unanswered questions, but the sovereignty of the Great Shepherd through it all cannot be disputed. Even when you walk through the valley where dreams die, where enemies threaten, and resources are sadly scarce, your entire inner landscape becomes transformed. Delight and desire are vastly empowered when He overshadows them.
We’re deeply engaged in our own internal war regarding what we long for; the fight for happiness. It’s sad, but we can shipwreck ourselves if primitive, instinctual behavior dominates the show. Scripture makes a promise very few people tap into. It provides protection for us, as we navigate the ocean of possibilities. Psalm 145 tells us something critical to our well-being:
You (Lord), open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him… (V16,17,19)
Let this rock your world, because it’s very good news: in the final analysis, no matter how carefully you plan, how cautiously you advance, how prudently you stockpile, how brilliantly you travel, you cannot satisfy your own soul. Gratification is not within the purview of either your wisdom or your grasp. Only the Creator who made you is able to bring you that which will utterly satisfy you. That’s His job, not yours. He carries the burden. Are you still running under the delusion that you’ve got it all under control? My way or the highway? It’s not that we can’t find high levels of pleasure or achievement, but delight and desire are divine substances that must spiritually align with the will of God and His power in order to be fulfilled. Like little iron filings, these potentialities magnetically polarize to the touch of His hand, the sound of His voice.
Do you find yourself pounding along with the world’s theme song: ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’? Our own internal engine of desire can rev at such high RPM’s it literally tears us apart. Learning to rest in Him and just let go to the great Kingdom river is one of the maturity lessons of a lifetime. There’s a place of greater release, more profound tranquility and far more productive striving. Desperation melts away. Can you hear it? There’s a still, small voice in the eye of the soul storm, saying ‘This is the way, walk in it.’