PANNING FOR GOLD
Digging into Psalm 34:12
This post is dedicated to . . .
Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days . . . (Psalm 34:12 NIV).
As I considered these questions, a more profound one came to me: does God have desires? Do things matter to Him?
I concluded that He must have feelings, because Jesus told his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15 NIV). Not just desired but eagerly desired.
Is it any wonder that we have many desires? We were made in His image.
I imagine you are thinking, “Some of my desires couldn’t have come from Him.” You would be right. I want to address that shortly, but first may we consider the difference between honoring our desires and ignoring them? I see an example of each in the story of the “lost son” in Luke 15:11-32.
Usually, when this story is told, the emphasis is on the father who loved his wayward son unconditionally and welcomed him home after he had partied his inheritance away. But I want us to look at the two sons. The younger son apparently had a taste for life. He liked to enjoy himself. However, his notion of how to enjoy life was immature and distorted. It caused him to self-destruct. On the other hand, eventually, he was capable of appreciating the home he had left behind and desiring to return to it.
The older son took pride in his hard work and responsibility and despised his fun-seeking younger brother. He was indignant that their father received his brother home again—especially that he fully reinstated him as a son.
The older son appears to have been driven by obligation. The younger son was drawn by his desires.
The older son’s best reward for his efforts was pride. The younger son reaped joy and, ultimately, love and self-esteem.
The older son was faithful but his heart was far from his father. The younger son was neither faithful nor loving—at first. But the day came when remembered his father with affection and realized it would be a pleasure to work for him.
There is a pernicious (plain English: nasty) idea out there that God wants us to be serious and dutiful—that the less we think about our desires the happier He is with us.
There’s some truth to that last point. God is selfless, so when we put others above ourselves, we are like Him. Yes, God is selfless, but He is not desire-less. If you doubt that, read the whole story of the lost son and see how longingly the father watched for the son’s return and how extravagantly he showered him with gifts of love. He also told his older son that he would have held a feast for him and his friends at any time, if he had only asked.
So here’s the truth about what the Lord wants from us:
Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing (Psa. 100:2 NKJV).
Anything less grieves God’s loving, generous heart. It also diminishes our fruitfulness, because joy and desire are huge motivators.
Earlier, we acknowledged that not all desires are good. In fact, the lost son’s youthful desires ruined his life. But there’s a way to live from your heart safely.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart ( Psalm 37:4).
When did the younger son’s desires become healthy? When his heart turned back to his father and he took delight in being back home.
What if your life is in disarray because of unhealthy desires? Connect with the heavenly Father.
What if you are a good Christian, but you’re not enjoying it? Unstop the fountains of desire. Uncover how you feel about things. Resurrect your dreams. Don’t drop your responsibilities but develop a taste for them. Let your actions spring from desire, not just duty, and approach the Father with an open, trusting heart.
As Proverbs 4:23 says,
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (NIV).