“I’ve got to get this promotion…”
“If only I could…”
“If only she would…”
“Why can’t my child get out of this funk?”
“Why has my marriage grown so cold and distant?”
What do you do with this? What do we do with desire? Is it wrong or selfish or sinful to desire? When we live with these unmet desires for a long time, they begin to take on a life of their own. They begin to possess us. We start to obsess over them. We talk about them, strategize over them, take pills to fix them, engage counselors to work us through them…and they persist.
We exhaust ourselves trying to fix them, conquer them, make them go away. And they persist.
We all have crosses to bear. Why is that? Why won’t God “bless me” and just take away this one stubborn, nagging thing that sticks in my side like a needle? Is God holding out me? What have I done wrong to miss this blessing?
Can you relate to this?
At dinner the other night, a brother essentially said to me, “You know I get all this John Eldredge, Men’s Fraternity, ManSchool stuff. I get the “father-wound thing” and all that but I am never taught what I am to do with it.” In other words, it persists.
So as we said in last night’s post, there are two usual paths we take with these desires – one, we dive into desire head-first. Go “all in” and give ourselves over to the desire and things don’t go so well. This is where addiction comes in. The second choice is we just simply kill desire. Kill it. Stuff down any inkling of desire when we first feel it. “Been burned once, not going there again.” And we harden our hearts. We harden our exterior. We don’t allow anything in and we become a numb, Christian zombie walking about feeling nothing, able to give nothing.
These are the two extremes. There is a middle and this is what we are to do with all of these things we’ve been talking about. This is why the John Eldredge/ManSchool/Men’s Fraternity stuff doesn’t work for us…
What we need to do to make it work is simply —– invite God into this.
Invite Him into your most poignant struggle. Stop obsessing over it. Give it up to Him. You see, if you do this on your own, here’s what you’ll do (back to the sex example) – there is no frequency so you begin talking about it with her. You buy books. You read everything you can get on the topic. You go back some more to her with this “new knowledge you have” and the frequency falls off even more. You talk to Keith about it. You talk to your small group about it. You start getting angry. The frustration grows. Nothing you are doing is working and, in fact, the more you think about it, the worse it gets.
And I believe God is lovingly saying, “Ummm…no kidding. That didn’t work out too well for you? Really?”.
You see God gives us this freedom. He gives us the freedom to choose the path we take and when we tell him, “Thanks God, give me the wheel, I’ve got this”, God will back off and let us drive off into the sunset of our own making.
Man takes this issue – be it sex in our marriage or money or saving my business or restoring a broken relationship with our Dad or our own child – and wrests control of it from God and goes down all these paths (books, blogs, talking to others, counseling, etc.) trying desperately to fix it.
And all along the way, God is there and He is waiting. He awaits the return of the prodigal son. He waits for the fool to come to his senses and see the wreck he has let his life become. “You shall have no other gods before me…”
It is pretty darn clear. No other gods before. You… shall… have… no other gods before me. So as I re-read this very familiar passage, I was struck by the finality of it. I believe He is telling His Chosen that He will thwart their efforts to have other gods. Yes, it is a commandment – no other gods – but I think it is deeper than that. I think God is telling us…
1) you are going to turn from Me
2) you will chase other gods/idols
3) I will NOT let you have them
4) Something out there that you are trying to possess will become a cross you must bear
In other words, for all of us, we will not get all of our desires. We will face short-falls and set backs. God blesses us. We have hard times. We have hard times. God blesses us. Hard times. Hard times. Hard times. Hard times. Hard times. God blesses us. He blesses us again. Hard times. Hard times…
We desperately want God to take those hard times away and we just want the blessings. When we’ve taken control of the wheel, invited God out of the car and driven off into our sunsets living our lives as we think we deserve to live, how can we expect God to bless that?
No, I think God allows each of us to have these crosses to bear for a reason. He radically desires intimate relationship with you. That’s it. That’s the solution to why “all this John Eldredge stuff” doesn’t actually work. That’s why your sex-life isn’t as fulfilling as you think you deserve. That’s why God hasn’t blessed your business in the way you think you should be being blessed. You haven’t invited God into these areas of your life. Books…counseling…blogs…chasing deals…trying to hit homeruns…more counseling…more talking to your pastor/friends…
(Aside – I am not saying good Christian counseling is not helpful – it many cases, it is extremely effective. Deep struggles, addictions, etc. need professional help and I endorse that but even in these, we must invite Jesus into these struggles)
We chase after all these “solutions” to get what we want but we never invite God into it. You see, I cannot “fix” my wife anymore than she can fix me. I cannot make our sex life ideal. That may be something that always remains weak and sub-par. I cannot “fix” my money problems. If I make $80,000 a year and need to make $200,000 to have the life we need, I just can’t magically fix that.
What I can do is invite God into these areas.
I can give up control of this cross I carry and hand it to Him. What He desires is intimacy with you. An “Abba Father” type relationship. “You matter God. Sex doesn’t. Money doesn’t. Power doesn’t. Respect doesn’t. A healed relationship with my Dad doesn’t. You matter Jesus. I want you Lord Jesus. I trust You. You know what is best for me. I invite you into this struggle I am having. I am through trying to solve it myself. I’m tired of reading about it, talking about, worrying about it. I trust you Lord Jesus. You take the wheel. I need you to lead me. I desire a daily walk with you. I want conversational intimacy with you in all things but especially with ______. When the thoughts come to mind Lord, I am going to be asking you what to do with them. I release ________ to you. It’s yours. I cannot fix it. I can’t solve it. I cannot heal it. Come Lord Jesus, come. Show me your plan, your path, your direction for my life. I need you right here, right now.”
That’s it men. Stop trying to fix life. Invite Jesus into your most intimate struggles. Give it over to Him and I believe when you do, you will begin to see a radical shift in your thinking about this “must have” thing that’s out there.