As I recently mentioned, I took up reading one of John Eldredge’s older works, The Journey of Desire, or now known as Desire.
I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but thought I might post one or two more passages from the book, quotes that I believe are stirring to the soul.
Here is one on thirsting:
There is a widespread belief in the church that to be a Christian somehow satisfies our every desire. As one camp song has it, “I’m inright, outright, upright, downright happy all day long.” What complete nonsense! Augustine emphasized, “The whole life of the good Chrsitian is a holy longing. What you desire ardently, as yet you do not see.” So, “let us long because we are to be filled…That is our life, to be exercised by longing.” There’s the mystery again. Longing leads to fullness somewhere down the road. Meanwhile, being content is not the same thing as being full.
Paul said he had “learned the secret of being content” (Phil. 4:12 NIV), and many Christians assume he no longer experienced the thirst of his soul. But earlier in the same epistle, the old saint said that he had not obtained his soul’s desire, or “already been made perfect.” Quite the contrary. He described himself as pressing on, “straining toward what is ahead” (Phil. 3:12-14 NIV). These are not the words of a man who no longer experienced longing because he had arrived. They are the account of a man propelled on his life quest by his desire.
Contentment is not freedom from desire, but freedom of desire. Being content is not pretending that everything is the way you wish it would be; it is not acting as though you have no wishes. Rather, it is no longer being ruled by your desires.
The fact is, at this point in our journey, we have only three options: (1) to be alive and thirsty, (2) to be dead, or (3) to be addicted. There are no other choices. Most of the world lives in addiction; most of the church has chosen deadness. The Christian is called to the life of holy longing.
I especially love the last 2 paragraphs – a healthy focus of what contentment is, that contentment is not being ruled by our desires, and the challenge of the 3 options we have in our journey in God. The 3 options might seem a little black and white, but I think it leaves us with something to think about.
Do we fall more in line with addiction (to whatever), to deadness, or to true longing? And by holy longing, I don’t believe Eldredge is trying to portray some kind of sin management idea where all our longings must fit into Christianese language – longing for souls to get saved, longing to understand better the concepts of justification and election, etc (though these are not bad). The word holy refers to being set apart. And so our holy longings, whatever they might be, are seeing those longings placed deep within us released to their full potential in God and His purposes.
My longings are stirred!