If we were to sum up in one word why we do the things we do, I think that word would be this: Desire.
Desire is what gets us out of bed in the morning and why we go to sleep at night, why we eat and why we diet, why we spend and why we save. Desire is why we scroll for news or gossip or porn. Desire gets us pining for love, pledging ourselves in marriage, having sex, or breaking our vows.
Desire is what urges us to run from God and what turns us to come back to Him.
I remember in my years struggling with pornography how much I loved and hated it at the same time, how much I loved God and how often I broke my promises to Him. My desires were strong and strongly conflicted.
What are we to do? Thank God for the good news of Easter!
Every desire in us—from the noblest to the foulest—must be crucified with Christ and raised with Him if it is to become what God intended desire to be. Only then will our desires align and move us in the same direction. Only then can they take us to God.
One of my favorite scenes in all of fictional literature comes from C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. The book is about a man (the narrator) who takes a bus ride from hell to the threshold of heaven, where he, like the many other characters from the bus, are met by people who have travelled far to help them on a pilgrimage into heaven and up the mountain of God. Through the book, the man looks on as most of his fellow travellers finds reason to reject heaven, choosing instead to turn back and return to hell.
Late in the book, the narrator observes one of the travellers limping back toward the bus with a lizard—who we learn is lust—on his shoulder, urging him to leave. This man is met by a bright, burning angel who offers to kill the lizard, but he needs the man’s permission to do so. At first, the man isn’t sure he wants to live without lust, not even sure he can live without it. He fears killing the lizard would kill him, too. When finally the man gives the angel his consent, the angel tears the lizard from the man’s shoulder, crushes it, and throws it to the ground, dead.
Within moments, the man and the lizard are both transformed: the man into an immense, strong, shining man; and the lizard into a powerful, white stallion with mane and tail of gold. The man and horse breathe into each other’s nostrils, then the man leaps upon the horse and they ride at unbelievable speeds over the foothills and up the mountain steeps to meet God face to face.
At this point, our friend the narrator turns in puzzlement to his teacher and asks, “Am I right in thinking the Lizard really turned into the Horse?”
“Aye,” replies his guide, “But it was killed first. Ye’ll not forget that part of the story?”
Nothing, not even the best and noblest, can go on as it now is. Nothing, not even what is lowest and most bestial, will not be raised again if it submits to death. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Flesh and blood cannot come to the Mountains. Not because they are too rank, but because they are too weak. What is a lizard compared with a stallion? Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.
With what desires are you struggling? What good desires do you need strengthened?
Whether good or bad, despite what your experience tells you, despite what the world may say, are you willing to entrust your desires to God?
It’s Easter week. Our Savior, the Son of God, desires more strongly than we ever have. For us, He really died and He really rose to life again. It may take time in our lives to experience the fullness of what He’s done, but is there any desire of yours He did not carry to death with Him? Is there any desire He cannot raise to new and glorious life?
An Easter prayer we can pray all year:
O Resurrected Jesus, You are holy and merciful.
Try as I might, I still experience unholy desires,
And even my best desires are tainted with selfishness and pride.
I bring You my desire for __________________, and I surrender it to You now.
Through Your crucifixion, carry it down to death in You,
Through Your resurrection, resurrect it to new life in You.
Fill me with the sure hope of Easter,
That what this desire has been in me will be nothing
Compared with what it will become in union with You.
I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
God has blessed you with a gift for writing, Josh, that ministers health and healing to our hearts and souls. Maintain your daily walk with Christ so that you continue to be faithful until death.
I would like to know what good desires I can expect to want. That would help me identify or notice them so I can strengthen them.