Psalm 73: Desire
“…And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” (v.25b)
You and I are creatures of desire. There is nothing you ever choose, do, or say that is not the product of desire. Desire not only directs your choices, it shapes your dreams. Desire forms your moments of greatest joy and darkest grief. Desire makes you envious of one person while being glad you’re not another. Desire keeps you awake at night or puts you soundly to sleep. Desire makes you willing to get up in the morning or causes you to be frustrated at the end of the day. Desire makes you expectant and hopeful in one moment, and demanding and complaining in the next. Desire sometimes makes you susceptible to temptation and at other times is the thing that defends you against it. Desire can lift you up to God or it can make you a willing friend of the devil. Desire can make you a celebrant or drive you to the pit of depression. Desire can make you the best of friends or cause you to drive people away. Desire can cause you to lovingly edit your words or make you willing let it rip with little regard for the damage your words will do. Desire will make you willing to give or cause you to hoard everything you have. Desire will cause you to submit to the King or to set yourself up as king. Desire can cause you to fight for freedom or can be the very thing that causes you to be addicted. Desire can give you power or rob you of the power that could be yours. Desire is your biggest problem and one of God’s sweetest graces. But there is one thing for sure; your life is always shaped by desire.
The great spiritual war that is being fought for control of our hearts is a war of desire. (See James 4:1-4 and I Peter 2:11). Remember this biblical principle; whatever rules your heart will control your words and behavior. You and I are human beings. We do not live by instinct. We have been designed by God with the capacity to desire. This means that everything you do or say is done or spoken out of the want for something. You and I are always seeking something. You and I are always living for something. Beneath everything we do is the desire for something. It is here that the war of right and wrong is fought. It is here that the direction of our lives will be shaped. You cannot let yourself think that the war for what is right is a war of behavior. If you fight the battle of behavior alone, the battle will not be won. You must be willing to fight the spiritual fight at the place where your behavior is formed; in the desires of the heart.
Every day, in all the situations and relationships of your life, this war rages. It is about whether you will live in fear of man of fear of God. It is about whether you will live to possess some part of the creation or live to please the Creator. It is about whether you will live to achieve some personal success or live in the way the Creator designed you to live. This war is about what you treasure the most and want the most. This war is about what set of desires will set the agendas for the way that you will respond in the situations and relationships where God has placed you. Spiritual warfare is all about the desires of the heart.
Now, I would invite you to be humbly honest in this moment. What do you really want? If you were to respond to the following, how would you fill in the blanks? “If only I could have ______________ then my life would be ______________ ? It is so easy for us to say that we are living for God, when, in fact, at the street level our lives are often shaped by the anxious pursuit of other things. Perhaps for you that is the desire to get married that preoccupies too much of your thinking and shapes too many of your choices. Perhaps for you it is the desire to be successful that has eaten your schedule with frantic workaholism. Perhaps it is the desire for physical things that has left you empty and in debt. Perhaps it is the desire to avoid failure that has made you more demanding and controlling than you thought you would ever be. Perhaps it is the desire for physical health that has reduced you to fearful body self-consciousness. Perhaps it is the desire for ministry success that has turned you into more of a mini-messiah than a servant. Perhaps it is the desire for comfort and ease that has caused you to be way too self-absorbed. Or maybe it is the desire to be affirmed and respected that causes you to ride the roller-coaster of people’s responses to you. Where does the war of desire rage for you?
Could you say with David, “There is nothing on earth I desire besides you?” Does this sound ethereal and impractically super-spiritual to you? Does it feel like a moral impossibility to you? In fact, David is expressing in a phrase exactly where God wants each of us to be. It is the reason each of us was given life and breath. We were made for God. We were created to love him above all else. We were designed to live with his glory as the single motivator of all that we do. Desire for him was intended to shape all the other desires that we would rightly have. You see, it is not wrong to desire comfort, acceptance, peace, success, order, health, etc… In fact, there would be something wrong with you if you did not desire these things in some way. But these desires must never rule you, because when they do they replace God as the ruler of your heart. The move from desire to idolatry is a shockingly short step.
So, we all need to cry out for help once more, we all need to seek God’s rescue and his power, because we must all humbly admit that there is evidence in our daily living that the war of desire still rages in our hearts. There are times when Jesus is our priceless treasure, but there are other times when we would rather have other things than him. This means that we cannot quit seeking his help until the day when we are able to say with complete singleness of heart, “…There is nothing on earth I desire besides you.”