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It’s Holy Week. This is no time to be timid.

It’s time to long. To groan. To ache. To mourn. To hunger.

Most of the time, I live life too timidly, with tempered desire. Why this resistance to longing, hungering, desiring?

For one, desire feels dangerous. If I tap into my longings, won’t I be tempted to indulge in those familiar sins that could wreck me like they have before? When I give desire space to stir, will I be able to control what happens next?

  • What if I slip into porn again?
  • I just know I’ll gain weight.
  • I’m afraid I’ll hurt those I love.

On the other hand, desire feels unsafe because it exposes my dependency. Desire is massive. Facing it can be like standing in an open field staring up at infinite space, or like stepping up to the edge of an endless abyss. Even if I throw everything I can at it, I can’t fill it.

  • I’ll be let down again.
  • I’m afraid I’ll start crying and won’t be able to stop.
  • I’ll just be left feeling alone and lonely.
  • I know God has good in store for me in heaven, but I don’t believe He’ll satisfy me here and now.

With all this, it feels safer to busy myself with decent, moral (or only slightly immoral) things away from the edge. Stay in control. Distract myself. Let longing sleep.

But desire is in us because God put it there. Yes, sin has corrupted desire and twisted it toward that which doesn’t satisfy, but it’s a mistake to therefore try to lock it away.

This is Holy Week. If ever there was a time or place to bring the depth of our human longing, it’s now.

How do we do this? I’m a bit of a novice at this myself. Like I said, I tend to be timid.

But I do know it involves prayer in which we don’t hold back.

I know it involves bringing the faulty ways we’ve tried to satisfy our desires into the light. We admit them to God, ourselves, and trusted others.

It involves untwisting our sinful desires from the purer desires they cover, like removing a twisty vine from a good plant it’s choking.

I know we can’t do this alone. You need wise-enough others to help you avoid either indulging sinful desires or alternately trying to stuff your desires.

It involves death and resurrection. Like every part of our humanity, desire must be united with Christ’s death and resurrection. He did not come to condemn desire in us but to rescue and redeem desire.

And come Friday, I’m bringing my hunger to His “Take, eat, this is My body” and my thirst to the cup He pours, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:26, 27).

 Jesus, into Your Passion I come with all the beauty and mess of my desire.
I don’t ask You to remove my desire,
But I ask You to unite my desire with Your desire;
Carry it down to death and raise it back to life with You.
Purify desire that it would be a force for good in me,
Heal desire that it would be healthy and strong in me,
And rightly order my desire that it would lead me to Life.
Jesus, I walk toward Good Friday with great hunger and great thirst
because You are true Bread and true Drink.

With courage,
Josh

11 thoughts on “Passion”

  1. I know God has good in store for me in heaven, but I don’t believe He’ll satisfy me here and now.

    THIS really touched on point for me. My experience has been this statement. Not for a lack of pursuing God without honest prayer…life and joy for whichever God intended just doesn’t happen.

    1. Matt, I don’t have answers but just wanted to reply to let you know I hear you. Jesus’ statement about leaving homes and family for the sake of the Kingdom and receiving exponentially more blessings both in this life and in the life to come (Lk. 18:28-30) doesn’t always seem to happen, and I’m not always sure what to make of it. I’ll bring your longing with me this week and this weekend. Let me know if I can help in some other way, too.

  2. Beautifully stated. My desires run deep & it’s a difficult transition to hand them over to Jesus- but yet freeing. Thanks for these words of courage, & for putting into writing exactly what I feel.

  3. Desire frustrates me. I crave physical touch, non-sexual comforting secure warm touch – affection that I did not receive. I hear the message “God is enough” or “Let God meet your need”.
    That longing and desire is one that I’ve never experienced God’s meeting directly Himself. And, it is a longing and desire that I cannot pursue as an adult. Single adult middle aged men do not have much options to relax in wholesome touch.
    I have brought this pain to God countless times. I do not sense His being angry or impatient with my cries. I guess this is another example of learning to trust when God, as my Father, says “No, but I am still good.
    Thanks for letting me share.

    1. Mark, man I’m glad you shared this. So real and so important. Honest question: Do you think there’s something missing in how we in the west do relationship and live out “church”?

      1. Josh, I do think something is missing. But when I start to point fingers, I find myself looking at how I Iive out “church” and relationship! 🙂 Meaning, I recognize that I hold back from giving myself as fully as I could to others.
        Fear of rejection, so common to man, dictates my self-protection. So, when I desire touch I do not seek out the elderly person who needs a hug. I do not tell a trusted friend “hey man, I really need a hug today.” Fear.
        Rather than ask if there is a single parent who could use an anonymously given $50, I continue to treat myself to designer coffee drinks. Selfish.
        So, what is missing? “I” am missing. “I” do not fully show up, willing to love others. And when a whole group of “I”‘s hold back in the same way, the result is bodies of believers who show up for services, for small groups, maybe even for a special project; yet fail to address some of the most basic needs; the needs to simply be present with one another. To know that we are not alone.
        Thanks again.

        1. Josh,
          Great post! Always inspired, encouraged, and challenged by your wisdom.

          Mark,
          Brother, you are on point and have so eloquently expressed what so many feel. I love that you recognize that “I” am the church and “I” am the problem – individually and collectively. May we all learn to trust, love and open our hearts, lives and homes to true community. Blessings!

        2. Mark, what a humble, honest, and poignant response. We are the church, and I am way too often one of the missing as well. So maybe you and I can be two “I”‘s who take even one step this week to, as you said, “simply be present” to another. Thank you for being willing to look and face what’s within. That’s one “I” making us a healthier “we.”

      2. Josh, thank you for this post! so helpful and needed! I love the prayer too. And to Mark, my husband and I married later in life. We were both single for a long time. We have a heart for single people. We will keep you in our prayers. Thank you for your post! So important for the church to discuss these unspoken issues.
        Betsy

        1. Josh, you and Mark both “provoked me to love and good works.” I think C.S.L. said somewhere that our desires are not strong enough; we sell ourselves short aiming for the temporal and mundane when God wants to give us wholeness, holiness, and himself forever. (Obviously I am taking great liberty with his words since I don’t have the quote at my fingertips.) Your talks and posts are substantive and timeless Josh.

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