I want Christ to be the treasure of my life. In truth, I generally uncover the wanting of him to be my treasure a far more frequent reality in my life than the actual act of treasuring and enjoying him as my treasure. Is that normative? It is an essential query, and this time it comes from a podcast lister named Kai.
“Hi, Pastor John! I retain hearing your answers on this podcast speaking about how we want to love God’s glory, be happy in Jesus, and embrace him as our treasure. But I can not look to handle it. I often want Jesus. I often want to glorify God. It is often my ambition to do so. But I virtually under no circumstances really feel as even though I essentially have Jesus or enjoy the glory of God. I really feel like I’m often wanting and recognizing my lack devoid of becoming happy by him. Is this regular? Is my practical experience regular?”
Insecure and Discouraged
Back in the 1980s, I was pondering about writing a book on Christian Hedonism (essentially, they had been sermons initial). This truth would grow to be my life passion and ministry. Back in the 1980s, I wondered, “What should really I get in touch with it?” J.I. Packer had written a book known as Understanding God, and Charles Colson had written a book known as Loving God, so I decided on the title Desiring God.
“The born-once again person’s desires are owing to a new taste, a new spiritual taste for God.”
I liked the ring of it. I liked lining up behind these two guys. But there was a thing far more — there was so significantly far more significance behind that title. I can try to remember in these early days of my pastoral ministry walking to church seven minutes from our home. I’ve carried out it fifteen to twenty thousand instances. In these early years particularly, I would on a regular basis really feel insecure and a tiny discouraged. I would be praying all the way to church for God’s assistance, whether or not I was going to a employees meeting or a funeral or a preaching service or some challenging counseling session.
Hope in God
I try to remember that two Bible passages dominated my thoughts for an essential season in the mid eighties, perhaps even longer than that. They had been like the music on the answering machine in my brain. If I known as in for assistance, this would be the message of my thoughts.
A single of them was Psalm 42:five: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil inside me? Hope in God.” We place that on a huge sign so I could see it. It was a huge sign on the old sanctuary. It is torn down now, but for a decade or far more, we had this huge “Hope in God” sign so that John Piper would take heart as he’s walking to church.
The psalmist says, “Hope in God for I shall once again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:11). You can see that this is the prayer of a man whose heart is not as complete of God as it should really be, due to the fact he says, “I shall once again praise him,” which means praises are not spontaneously welling up joyfully from his heart, and he knows it.
He’s preaching to himself that God is infinitely worthy of becoming trusted, and he’s declaring self-assurance that praises are going to return. In other words, this is the prayer of a man who has tasted and recognized the satisfying preciousness of God as far better than something else, and he’s not experiencing it to the degree that he knows he should really. Now, that was 1 of the texts.
Whom Have I But You?
Here’s the other 1: Psalm 73:24–26. I can try to remember becoming known as on to pray in several circumstances exactly where I wasn’t expecting it. I would push this button in my brain I known as into my brain, and this is the music that came out. “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will obtain me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is practically nothing on earth that I want apart from you. My flesh and my heart may well fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:24–26).
“Even your wanting is a sort of satisfaction, a accurate practical experience of satisfaction in Jesus.”
Now, most likely if there had been 1 text that I could trace to the title of the book Desiring God, that would be it: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is practically nothing on earth that I want apart from you.”
When he says, “There’s practically nothing I want apart from you,” I feel that is the psalmist’s way of saying what Paul stated in Philippians three:eight: “I count almost everything as loss due to the fact of the surpassing worth of realizing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Technically, there are other desires. We get hungry. We get thirsty. We have sexual desires. We get sleepy. But compared to God and his fellowship — all that he is for us in Christ — these other desires fade.
If You Have Tasted
What sort of want is this in Psalm 42 and 73? The crucial to its essence, I feel, is identified in 1 Peter two:2–3. It says, “Like newborn infants” — this is a command coming up — “long for [that’s an imperative of the verb desire] the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may well develop up into salvation.” Now comes this all-essential if clause: “if certainly you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter two:2–3).
Assume very carefully about that with me for a minute. There are desires that unbelievers have for a thing beyond this globe that they can not name. These desires may well lead them to God. They did for C.S. Lewis, for instance.
Till a individual is born once again, these desires are not spiritual desires. They are not the operate of God’s Spirit and are not primarily based on a accurate practical experience of the beauty and worth of God. They are basically expressions of the empty location in our heart that is created for God. What ought to take place for these desires to be spiritual and God-pleasing desires, desires that actually magnify God, is this: “if certainly you have tasted.” You can want God if you have tasted God.
The distinction amongst the desires of the non-Christian and the born-once again individual is that the new desires of the born-once again individual are owing to a new taste, a new spiritual taste for God. They have observed a thing, smelled a thing, tasted a thing spiritually that is unique than something they had recognized prior to.
Tasting Correct Wish
Here’s what I’m saying to Kai when he says, “I often want Jesus, but I virtually under no circumstances really feel as even though I essentially have Jesus.” I am saying that if, by the operate of God’s regenerating Holy Spirit, you have tasted the accurate glory or beauty or worth and greatness of Jesus, that taste is present in all your wanting. It is present in all your wanting, all your desiring. As a result, even your wanting is a sort of delighting even your wanting is a sort of satisfaction — a accurate practical experience of satisfaction in Jesus.
“On earth we will under no circumstances have an practical experience of joy in God that is not composed primarily of desiring.”
C.S. Lewis analyzed the partnership amongst want and satisfaction as deeply as anyone I know. He stated that joy is the practical experience “of an unsatisfied want which is itself far more desirable than any other satisfaction” (Shocked by Joy, 19). Let me say that once again due to the fact that is fairly profound for somebody like Kai to come to terms with. Joy is the practical experience “of an unsatisfied want which is itself far more desirable than any other satisfaction.” In other words, the taste of the preferred in that want is far better than any other satisfaction.
I feel he’s appropriate when he says that on earth we will under no circumstances have an practical experience of joy in God that is not composed primarily of desiring. In other words, only in God’s instant presence in heaven, or in the new age, is there “fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
For now, in this fallen globe, satisfaction in God will be in measure, not in fullness. The most frequent way we will practical experience these measures will be in desiring and wanting and longing primarily based on a accurate taste. If we have tasted the accurate goodness of the Lord by his Spirit, that desiring, as Lewis says, will be far more desirable than any other satisfaction, and God will be honored in it.