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.