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Posts Tagged ‘desire’

Presence 2What do I really want? I have struggled with this question for years. I’m not quite sure how it became such a stumbling block. Sometimes I think I feared that if I spoke my wants, they might sound petty and mundane. Or, worse, I would put my wants out there and they would never be fulfilled. Clearly, by revealing my wants I feel vulnerable.

You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever. [Psalm 73:24-26, NIV]

The synonyms reveal the complexity of the word “want:” choose, need, crave, prefer, require, wish, ache, aspire, covet, fancy, hanker, hunger, long [for], lust, pine, thirst, yearn, and of course, desire. And here’s one answer to my query. Want is generic and covers a broad range of seeking. It’s ok to “want” the daily things of life, from a cup of coffee to a red dress. But want does not capture what God is asking of me within.

In Psalm 73, the word “desire” is more like “take pleasure in” or “delight in.” This is not about longing or wishing, it’s about a state of being, a contentment in being with God, in God. So often, I find myself leaving that place and “hankering” for something else. I am ambushed by the world’s noise and images; every commercial on television, every ad on Facebook, every magazine is telling me what I should be wanting. More, more, more.

But God wants me to enter into the Presence, abide there, and rest.

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altarWhat is God’s altar today? Is it merely in a church, festooned in appropriate colors for the season of the year, adorned with extras like flowers and candles? What if there is no altar in the church; where then? Rarely do we find the traditional church table in contemporary churches. If anything, it’s the drum set that holds center stage, or perhaps the podium where God’s messenger/priest/pastor/hip guy in a Hawaiian shirt or Toms shoes speaks.

Let me come to God’s altar—let me come to God, my joy, my delight—then I will give you thanks with the lyre, God, my God!  [Psalm 43:4, CEB]

Back in the day of King David when this Psalm (song) was written, there were several altars in the Temple, one holier than the next, until the most sacred altar of all was reached, the one in the “Holy of Holies,” but it was totally inaccessible to the common person, and was only visited on high holy days by a single priest. Is this altar of God we should be imagining?

And by the by, when was the last time you heard a lyre? Here’s a lovely example of a re-created lyre of that time period:

It’s assumed that many of the psalms were songs accompanied by the lyre and that King David, as a young man was quite proficient at playing one. It has a very gentle and soothing sound, but not perhaps, what we might imagine as we stand before this “altar of God.”

Perhaps the real issue is not where or what the altar is or how we come or what instrument we’re playing; instead, perhaps it’s intent. If God is present at the altar, like a meeting place, a touch point, so that each and every time, we came to such an altar, we would meet God, wouldn’t we want to go there often? How much do you want to experience God, to give thanks, to admire and express wonder, to receive love and grace and acceptance.

Oh, God, let me come.

No, God does not need to give permission to attend to this altar. I must simply will it; desire it. Or are my days too full? Even this one. For my morning was whisked away from me and it is already past Vespers as they say, evening for sure. I did not attend the altar.

Are you still unsure where this altar lies? It is within, inside the silence, inside the joy, inside the ever-playing music of God.

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This text caught me off guard today. I’ve always thought of “the world” as those “things” that suck me away from the heart of God. But it’s not the things at all. It’s the verbs in me. Just like we mistake money as evil when it’s the “love of money” that is the problem: so it is with everything else.

I John 2:16
For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man [or woman], the lust of his [her] eyes and the boasting of what he [she] has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
[NIV, 1984]

It’s my intentions, my desires, my personal cravings that drive me into the world. I see and then I want. I listen and then I desire. I remember and then I pine for the source of that memory. I am Edmund (The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe).

Craving is an intense desire. Do I crave God or what God can do for me?

Among the definitions for lusting (beyond the obvious sexual context) is a “passionate or overmastering desire or craving, usually followed by a lust for power.” At my age, sex is not much of a driver, but power, well, who am I kidding if I say that has no enticement? In my head, I know it’s the antithesis of all things Christ, and yet I know it’s there, waiting for the cage door to open and spring out. I think it’s married to another secret desire I have had throughout the years: Fame. It has tainted every venture. It has muddied every project. And lust laughs every time.

Boasting has two elements: one is exaggeration and the other is pride. Hence, in subsequent translations of this verse, it is wrapped up in a single phrase, “the pride of life.” It’s simple really, like a two-year old who insists on “doing it alone.” In some ways, I can see the root of it in the disappointments of my early years where there didn’t seem to be anyone to truly guide. My mother was caught in her own web of pride and self-control. From her perspective, if she didn’t do the work, no one would. If she didn’t make it happen, it wouldn’t happen. And this “gift” she passed along with a vengeance.

Again, the head knows all of this intellectually. But the soul cries out to surrender, to trust, to let go, to accept, to embrace contentment, to engage the interior life and not the ephemeral cravings, lustings, and boastings of the ads in the New York Times, the promotions, the landscaped yards, the exquisite furniture, the honor roll students, the wine cellars, the brilliant geeks, the skinny models, the tech toys, the romances, the published authors, the movies, the stars, the travel guides, the vistas, the sailboats, the beach houses, the Old Spice man, and even the full breed dogs and cats. Stupid, right?

I want, I wish, I desire. I crave, I lust, I boast.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” [Luke 14:7-11]

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