Being More

This is the final post in the series on desire and discipleship.
At the very beginning of this series I said that desire is the third rail of the soul.  
Our power to accomplish things and to make a contribution in life derives from our passions.  Along with this motive power also comes the danger of spiritual electrocution.
Our desires drive us to one of two destinations: larger life or destruction.
My suggestion has been simple.  Desire is about “more.”  Getting on the right track toward larger life and avoiding destruction involves getting “more” right.
Some people assume that getting “more” right involves finding the key to contentment.  So writers often tell us how to experience “enough” and how to avoid having a sense of deprivation.
You’ve probably heard folksy proverbs like this.  
The key to happiness is not to have what you want but to want what you have.  Or this: don’t try to fill the God-shaped hole in your heart with things that can’t fill it.
Writers have warned us to avoid temptations to pursue destructive objects of desire and to learn to keep our desires within reasonable limits.
All of this is good advice as far as it goes.  But there’s a paradox that this kind of advice routinely ignores.

We are finite beings.  We want to receive the infinite love of the infinite God.  To oversimplify for a moment, we’re not big enough to receive the very thing we’re designed by God himself to receive in order to know the joy he intends for us.
And we never will be.  God always has more love than we are able to receive.
Our desire for God is our most fundamental desire.  Etched into that very desire itself is a desire to be more so that we can receive God ever more expansively in into our lives.
As the Psalmist put its, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.”  (Ps. 42:1)  This is not to say that God is holding himself back from us and so we are left suffering from spiritual thirst.  This is a different sort of longing, what Ronald Rohlheiser calls a holy longing.
Our chief longing is to be more, not to have more.  God has already given us himself without reservation.  The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer.  We long to be more so that more of God can dwell in us.
We frequently misinterpret this desire.  Too many of us fear that we do not measure up.  That God is waiting for us to make ourselves more.  Religious people more often than not get the Gospel wrong by assuming that “more” means that we need to accumulate more moral achievements.
Here’s the Good News.  Only God can make us more.  And that is just what he does.  One of the chief works of the Holy Spirit is to stretch us to make more room for God.  The very thing we desire.
Unlike any other desire, our desire for God is a delight in itself.  And our desire for him delights God.
When we offer our lives to the glory of God, we at once pursue and receive what we desire the most.  It is in giving ourselves away in even our simplest, most routine activities, that we receive the object of our deepest desire.  Only by emptying ourselves are we genuinely fulfilled.
In my next series I will deal either with faith and doubt or with the struggle between good and evil.  I’ve received a few votes.  The polls are still open.  Let me know what you want to ponder.

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, husband, dad, and movie-goer

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