The Language of Desire {The Grove: Desire}

Most of us don’t traffic in the language of desires. We consider them impractical, unobtainable, or less than holy. Desires typically get boxed up with wishful thinking and daydreams.

We ignore them. Forget them. Attempt to squash them. But desires are ever present, just under the surface, refusing to be contained, making themselves known in a multitude of ways.

Desires fuel our motivation to act and think in particular ways. They push and they pull on our decisions. They lay underneath most every interaction. Desires tilt and shift and maneuver in an insatiable pursuit to be fulfilled.

And they are God-given.


That desire for significance that pushes you to volunteer for another thing even though there’s zero white space on your calendar? Yep, that one. The desire for belonging that woos you into unhealthy alliances? Yes. The desire for justice that gets your blood boiling when you are wronged? Uh huh, that one, too.

It’s not the desire itself that is messed up. It’s the crazy lengths we will go to try to get it filled that is out of whack.

God plants these longings in our heart so we will lean into Him and His goodness to find all we need and desire.

Desires for intimacy, freedom, recognition, comfort, security, worth, love, approval – you name it and God wants to be the One we look to for fulfillment of these longings.

No other affection, pursuit, longing is comparable to Him. When God fills our desires, we are released into a new freedom to enjoy the good gifts He has given us without making them a little god. We grow in our gratitude of relationships, opportunities, and things without clinging to them for dear life. Our affections and perspective are realigned, knowing we are delighted in and completely and fully loved by our Father.

Isaiah 30 is an instructive study in desires.

God’s children were obstinately intent on looking elsewhere to get their desires met, giving away their treasure and their dignity in the pursuit.

And what did they want?

Shade for refuge, direction for their future, protection and help, favor and affection, rest and peace. The very things I want. I’m guessing you, too.

Isaiah tells us their insistence in ignoring the God who longed to be all those things for them, and trusting others to meet these desires, ended in shame and disgrace. Descriptors used – shattered, broken, fragmented – are all too familiar to our own experience.

We are not so unlike the children of Israel.

Without a thought of how our misplaced pursuits impact the heart of God, we can bankrupt our souls in attempts to get these desires met outside of relationship with our loving, generous, kind God. I’m alarmed by my own growing awareness of how often I hardly give a thought to what God desires.

And what does God desire? What does He long for? Isaiah plunks that nugget down in the midst of all the reasons God should just write us off as ungrateful snotty nosed kids.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you: therefore He will rise up to show you compassion”

His desire is not to teach us a lesson, to abandon us to our disloyal pursuits, to punish us for disappointing Him. No, God longs to extend hesed, His lovingkindness and faithfulness wrapped in grace and mercy.

Who is this God? We ignore Him and He pursues us with a heart bent on goodness towards us. He longs to be gracious to us. He is so very fond of us.

Let’s recap.

God gives us desires which He intends to fulfill.

We look elsewhere.

We get all messed up.

Meanwhile, God is waiting to show us compassion and grace.

God’s desire is fulfilled as we turn our longing hearts to Him.

We live in freedom and the wonder-filled grace of God’s goodness and affection for us.

Which desires tend to trip you up and push you towards fulfilling them in fruitless ways?

Where do you need to experience His compassion and grace today?


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  1. Elizabeth October 7, 2016

    Yes! Yes, yes, yes, you’re speaking my language here, Patty. I’m reading in Scot McKnight’s “The Blue Parakeet” all about God’s desire for us to experience the oneness God experiences within the trinity: oneness in relation to God, to ourselves, to others, and to nature. It’s blowing my mind.

    I keep thinking lately about the phrase “hungering and thirsting” and how I want to hunger after God and the things of God, and how that is, for me, a more visual picture of desire. What do I hunger and thirst for? Can I live and love and serve God from the deepest part of me that hungers and thirsts? That’s what I want to do.

    1. Amy Young October 7, 2016

      Elizabeth, you know I’m easily distracted by books :), right? So when you mentioned The Blue Parakeet my mind went down a bunny trail! I love that book. I loved it so much I got a copy for my dad’s birthday years ago. He enjoyed it and in all innocence offered it to a rather conservative pastor to read. The pastor kindly declined :). I’m not sure why that story make me smile. But we all have blue parakeets, don’t we? Sorry this isn’t about the beautiful thought you shared on desire . . . maybe you desire for me to be more focused :)?!

      1. Patty Stallings October 7, 2016

        Now I am doubly intrigued by this book, Amy! 🙂

      2. Elizabeth October 7, 2016

        You make me laugh Amy! I put off reading the book for awhile because I had heard it was similar to another book that certainly did NOT build up my heart, soul, or mind. But the books couldn’t be more different in their approach to God and the Scriptures! I am loving “The Blue Parakeet.” The very first bits on how we read the Bible were not new info to me, and I breezed through them, wondering what the rest would be like. Then I hit the Eikon section and had to slow WAY down, LOL.

        1. Michele Womble October 12, 2016

          ok, you guys, I’m intrigued…browsing Amazon for “the Blue Parakeet” right now….:-)

          Except…I really don’t have time to read it. 🙁

          btw. I haven’t forgotten about Shiloh, Elizabeth. I started it and quickly realized what a treasure it is, and decided that I want to read it when I don’t feel so…scattered. When I can really appreciate it. (Feel free to pray for such a time for me 😀 )

    2. Patty Stallings October 7, 2016

      I love your thoughts on this, Elizabeth. Hungering, thirsting, oneness – such richly layered concepts. Don’t you just love soaking in all the imagery woven into Scripture?!

      1. Elizabeth October 7, 2016

        Yes! And historically in my life, I have not paid much attention to hungering or thirsting, or what I’m hungering or thirsting after.

        1. Michele Womble October 12, 2016

          I’ve been trying to pay attention to underlying desire lately – what’s really driving the way I respond (even if it’s just an emotional response with no action) and what God wants to say to me about it (or basically, how He wants me to come to Him to fill those desires – instead of looking wherever else) – and felt like He was telling me this week to ask Him what HE desires… I appreciate, Patty, that you brought out what God desires. (Funny, isn’t it, that He DESIRES to for us” to turn to Him” so He can show us compassion and grace…so He can fill our desires with Himself…)

          I’ve asked Him often “What’s on Your heart?” about different things – but somehow that’s different from “What do You desire?” isn’t it? It feels different.

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