In a recent post I began to meditate a bit on what the Psalmist may have been on about in 37:4 when he adjures us to “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
To press into the paradox of these words is to discover two interrelated things. In pursuing those things, ideas, persons we believe to be most satisfying to our egos, the shallow water before getting to the sea of soul, we suffer the law of diminishing returns. We attain, receive, pursue, and sometimes steal in order to buttress an icy happiness that laughs at us mere moments after the fact.
We held in our hands what is now farther away.
The result? Turn up the heat of our pursuit and call it “dedication” or “hard work” or “sacrifice.” The process begins again in earnest, to a fool’s detriment.
Conversely, it means something much odder still. To walk away from delight itself and toward the God of all delight is to forego the very need of desires for which we were previously straining. It is God’s cheeky bait ‘n switch.
To one drowning in desire, grasping hold of the first thing to bear us up is a natural action. But that desire blinds us to the life boat yards away in favor of a shark’s fin inches away. We are saved, but only until it becomes clear the price we pay.
In this season of competing allegiances and dueling narratives, all sparring for our attention, let us journey together on the longer road, bringing an end to all lesser desire, and follow after he whose self-denial gifts us with what we never thought was lost.
Let us risk the farther star; the gift which requires us to keep our heads up lest we trip on our own pursuing feet.
Painting by James Tissot, found here