One of the books I am reading is, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition & the Life of Faith, by fellow Redbud, Jen Pollock Michel. This book interested me because I have grown quite uncomfortable with my wants. At almost every turn, I find how selfish and self-serving my wants are. In most Christian environments and conversations, we are reminded that wants are bad. Are they really? All of them?
My daughter was baptized in the spring and she is now taking a “New Life” class at our church. During the first lesson the children were reminded (and what a lesson for me) that we can trust God:
- Teach us the right way to live.
- To provide what we need.
- Give us the things that we want.
I can trust God to give me the things that I want! Really? The Bible offers a few conditional clauses about delight, our needs, and wants. These are the first couple that come to mind:
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps. 37:4 NIV
IF I delight in the Lord, THEN He will give me the desires of my heart.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt. 6:33
The implication in this text is that God knows what we need before we even ask him; therefore, we must not worry about our daily provisions and needs.
But these two passages do not address the question as to whether or not it is bad to want. I think I believed that once, and then God directed me to 1 Timothy 5:17-19 which reads:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Given the fact that the majority of the world’s population lives on less than $2/day, most Americans are rich in this present world. God calls us not to be arrogant or put our hope in our financial wealth because it is uncertain and fleeting. Rather, we are called to put our hope in God, the one who provides EVERYTHING for our enjoyment. God delights in us. His creation is good. He does want us to enjoy the goodness of his creation and life. Because of salvation and out of thanksgiving for God’s generosity, we are called to do good, take the right actions, be generous and willing to share with those who are less fortunate. In this manner, we do not live only in this world, but we also store up wealth and treasures for ourselves in Heaven. This world is not our home. Sure, we can enjoy it while we are here; however, our value and investments are made for another world all together.
There is certainly tension between seeking pleasure, enjoyment, and delight in this world without loving the things of this world too much. This begs the question, “What can we do with our wants and desires?” I attended a Bible study discussion last night that provided a humble reminder:
“Jesus calls his follows to think of ourselves as already dead, to bury all of our earthly hopes and dreams, to bury the plans and agenda we made for ourselves. He will either resurrect our dreams or replace them with dreams and plans of our his own.” – Darrell Johnson & Greg Ogden
For me, my wants, hopes, and dreams boil down to a discussion about my trust in God. I can be honest and indeed trust God will all the things that I want. I can bury those wants or turn them over to Him. I can trust that God will resurrect my wants or replace them with more divine dreams of his own.
Today I am on Jen’s blog talking about my desire for security. You can read my story and the stories of others who have been found wanting.
So what do you want from God?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014