2016 Resolutions? I resolve to remain unresolved! How’s that??
No mas! I’m done! Uncle! I am, in modern vernacular, tapping out.
I considered putting ink to paper and developing a resolution or two. Then I spied March’s dissolution in the fogged over windshield of life’s hyped up, over maxed, half-baked January resolution. Such foresight has given me the wisdom to say no more to the resolution parade.
This year, rather than a long list of short lived resolutions, I am spending some time Reflecting on Life Shaping Desire. These reflections revolve around one central question:
“What do I desire – deeply want – or long for in this life?”
Tugging on this question the past few days has lead me to frame it in more specific way,
“What do I desire – deeply want – or long for in 2016?“
The question packs (or at least has for me) quite a punch! I am confident that my answer(s) will shift like the tides on the shores of the beach near my home. Yet, as of this moment, I am meditating on 2016’s Life Shaping Desires!
These are not things I resolve to do in 2016 but desires I long to nurture; to grow. Desires which, if properly nourished, hold the hope of bringing life to myself and those around me!
2016’s Life Shaping Desire Number One: For My Intimacy With and Love for God to Grow!
I am trusting in Christ to direct my desire to love and be loved toward Him rather than lesser loves that will leave me wanting more and loving less.
Augustine, in his Confessions, wrote,
“A body by its weight tends to move towards its proper place. The weight’s movement is not necessarily downwards, but to its appropriate position: fire tends to move upwards, a stone downwards. They are acted on by their respective weights; they seek their own place. Things which are not in their intended position are restless. Once they are in their ordered position, they are at rest. My weight is my love. Wherever I am carried, my love is carrying me. By your gift we are set on fire and carried upwards: we grow red hot and ascend.”
In Matthew 22 Jesus, when questioned about the greatest commandment, responded:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Fundamentally if I am going to love other people (or things) rightly, it will be because I first love God rightly: this is loves intended position. Lesser loves pose a problem when they replace the greatest love. There are a multitude of lesser loves that offer themselves to us. Some are noble (family, work, service, etc.) and bring value and worth. Many are destructive (power, porn, image-building, etc.) and bring only pain and despair.
Every desire leaves us longing for more when they are not in, as Augustine suggests, their intended position.
Desire number one? That my loves – in 2016 – will be directed toward God. As He becomes my first love, then my weight will gravitate toward Him.
2016’s Life Shaping Desire Number Two: To Be Fully Satisfied in His Presence!
Secondly, I am trusting in Christ to satisfy me with the gift of His presence rather than looking toward Him to show me a sign of His worth.
The desire to seek something from God rather than to be satisfied in Him is pervasive – seeping into the soul from so many other walks of life. We live in a ‘prove it to me’ world. Many of us worship in ‘show it to me’ churches. Many of us work in ‘what have you done for me, lately’ environments.
Thankfully, we are not the only ones who have had this ‘prove it to me’ problem in our approach to God. In John 6 a crowd approached Jesus. They were excited to see Him. They had heard so much about Him. They thronged to Him and, when they found Him, rather than being pleased and satisfied in His presence they asked Him for a sign.
When standing in the presence of the Messiah is no longer enough, it’s safe to say that my desires are distorted and my soul is disrupted!
Toward the end of the exchange Jesus simply tells them that He is the gift: He is he sign! His presence is designed to satisfy. He literally referred to Himself as the bread of life. In John 6:35 we read,
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
What was the response of those seeking him?
They went home.
Before I cast aspersions, I must admit that the sin sickness which distorted their soul also remains doggedly persistent in mine!
Indeed, I cannot count the times when I have longed for Jesus to do something for me rather than longing to be satisfied in Him. I am coming to believe that both the mark and joy of true discipleship – of the soul shaped toward God – is to be fully satisfied by Christ in all things. To rest in His arms and want nothing more than to be with Him!
The Psalmist, in Psalm 131, casts such a vision when he says,
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
These words capture, beautifully so, the desires of my heart. They paint a mighty vision of the With God Life I long to enjoy.
Desire number two? That my soul – in 2016 – will rest fully satisfied in the presence of Christ.
As I have said elsewhere, “that I would learn to both listen and respond to the presence of Christ loosed in the rushing waters of my life.”
I will close this post (I will pick up the remaining four “2016’s Life Shaping Desires” in the weeks to come) with a powerful quote from Eugene Peterson’s, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. I stumbled onto this book ten to twelve years ago, during a particularly difficult season of life and ministry. It’s a wonderful book that has remained with me to this day. It’s a vibrant and meaningful work which considers and offers guidance for the life of discipleship.
“The Christian life is not a quiet escape to a garden where we can walk and talk uninterruptedly with our Lord, not a fantasy trip to a heavenly city where we can compare our blue ribbons and gold medals with those of others who have made it to the winner’s circle…. The life of faith is a daily exploration of the constant and countless ways in which God’s grace and love are experienced.“†
Reflect on your desires and whether or not they are in their intended position as you enter 2016.
Desiring to experience AND be satisfied in the grace and love of Christ in 2016.
Disrupting to Renew!
†Peterson, Eugene H. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity, 2000. 44-45. Print.