December 27, 2016
A day or two ago I wrote a bit on Psalm 37. I didn’t say this then, but this psalm is one of my favorites. I love it because of those three verses I quoted in the earlier post. Here they are again:
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
“The desires of thine heart!” Isn’t that an arresting notion? If you skimmed over that phrase or if it didn’t knock you over, you’re simply not being honest with yourself. You’ve either given up on the notion that your desires could ever be granted or fulfilled or you pretend that you never had any such desires. Maybe, you’ll admit, that at one time you had such longings, but you “grew up” and dismissed such things and went on with “real life.”
Ronald Rolheiser, in his excellent book, The Holy Longing, tells us that “desire gives no exemptions.” That is, desire – a longing for something we may imagine the outlines and edges of but cannot see – is universal. It’s part of the human condition. He quotes, or paraphrases Plato:
We are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods and which would have us believe that we can have a great love, perpetuate our own seed, and contemplate the divine.
And so, right there in the Christian Bible – that book that you might imagine a bunch of straight-laced, plain-vanilla people carrying to church in their ten-year-old sedans – is this incredible explosion of a promise – the granting of our heart’s desire. This is the very thing that so much of modern self-help is all about. You know – running with the wolves, fire in the belly, all of that. At least half of what is broadcast on the Oprah network. And yet, here it is: the promise of complete personal fulfillment, right there in this three-thousand year old poem. All of our aching longing will be satisfied. Where do I get in line for that?
One more thing. The desires that God promises to fulfill are not less than you imagine them to be, they are greater. One of the things that discipleship – a relationship with Jesus Christ – does is sober us up and make us more honest with ourselves. Outside of Christ we are deluded about many things, one of which may be what our real desires are. We think we know what we want, but we don’t. If we got right now what we thought we wanted, we would be tired of it in no time. We’d be disappointed. God is smarter than we are – even about our own hearts, our own longings. He will satisfy us “with good things so that our youth is renewed like the eagle.” (Psalm 103: 5)
God’s gifts to his children are at their best when they are surprises. Of them we will say that they are more and better than we could ever have imagined.