2016 was a bumpy ride for our family.
Between a lengthy job hunt for my husband, a difficult pregnancy (in which my gall bladder basically decided it hated me), transitioning from 1 to 2 children (glorious, but, #CRAY), and then managing the tight financial limitations of an entry-level salary in a single-income home, it’s a year I wouldn’t really care to re-live. Among many other things, 2016 was the year I learned what it felt like to look around the house trying to find things to sell so we could do Christmas gifts. It was also the year I tried about every heartburn remedy that exists, but, that’s another story.
The past 18 months have often felt for me like existing in the space between 2 paycheques, and little else. Just existing. Just getting by.
I have been so grateful for God’s daily (and often last-minute) provision, but I’ve also grappled with the longing for financial freedom and the many practical implications that would involve for our family.
What I’ve learned in this past season is that desire is part of our human fabric. It’s the dynamite of our worship and the driving force behind every kingdom dream.
It’s true that desire can lead us down terrible pathways of sin. And sometimes even God-given, holy and right longings can feel overwhelming in their incompletion, even crushing. I think this is why so many people self-destruct when disappointment comes. I’ve been there. Our hearts are naturally unschooled in how to walk with desire before God. The whole concept of waiting on a desire is deeply offensive to this generation.
Desire is fierce and scary. But as I’ve walked with it, I’ve learned that the exact reasons that make it a difficult thing to live with are the same things that make it impossible to live without.
To fulfil my desires my own way on my own terms is to become animalistic, driven by nothing but instinct. But to erase desire is also to become sub-human in a different kind of way, because denying need also denies the development of empathy.
Gratitude is not the antithesis of longing. Contentedness is not the absence of desire. There is a way to walk with both.
As one very wise writer put it, “without a vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). In the same way that hunger drives us to eat and thirst drives us to drink, desire provokes action.
Desire is the reason for first dates, proposals, and weddings.
Desire makes babies.
It births projects and companies and careers.
It motivates social action.
It sparks political movements.
Desire drives believers to PRAY. And any church historian will tell you that every great move of God, beginning with the early church in the famous upper room (Acts 2) was preceded by an intensity of prayer and worship.
Desire matters. Desire is powerful. It’s a force of energy inside of us that can be used for good or evil. We have to figure out how to walk with it.
Desire is created by lack. I don’t desire things I already have. Rather, restriction and limitation and lack serve to underline what I really want and provoke me to try and either manage it or fulfill it somehow.
Desire is always about super-abundance. Living on that line between what I have and what I want is such a tender, delicate dance. It doesn’t help that the whole concept of MORE has been unfortunately polarizing in many Christian circles, drawing some into self-seeking prosperity teaching and repelling others out the other end into a harsh, fatalistic view of God’s sovereignty in which simply “accepting our lot in life” seems to be the most “spiritual” thing we can do. Without even wanting to, I think many of us by osmosis have absorbed bits of teaching that have actually crippled our thinking in this area.
I’ve become convinced that regardless of what’s in store for me, I am still responsible to entrust my deepest desires to God. If I don’t allow him access to those deep places, my pain and disappointment and longing cannot metamorphosize into something beautiful.
Only the ashes held open-handed can catch the transforming wind of his goodness. Only the hands held out empty can receive the oil of his gladness in place of despair. As Charles Spurgeon wrote, “it is our Lord’s office to bind up the broken-hearted, and he is gloriously at home at it”. In this beautiful process, I alone am responsible to throw open the door of my heart and let him in. Nobody else can make that choice for me.
For Josh and I, declaration has become an important part of holding our lives open-handed and giving Jesus access to our longings. We believe giving him access is where breakthrough begins.
I would classify declaration as anything that comes OUT of you and affects the atmosphere around you. Declaration is tangible, vocal, and measurable. It could be a financial offering; it could be (literally) a vocal statement you make over yourself; it could be a lifestyle change; or a spiritual discipline like fasting.
The Bible teaches that salvation itself begins with declaration. “If you declare with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10 v 9). The entire universe began with an utterance, a declaration. “God SAID, ‘let there be light’, and there was light” (Genesis 1 v 3). Declaration brings something out of nothing. We are called to pattern ourselves after the One who “CALLS into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4 v 17).
Declaration is me choosing to let my own ears hear the sound of my will to worship.
I believe that some of you reading this are at your own Jericho, and it’s time to shout. It’s time to declare what you believe to be true. It’s time to break the cycle of sin and despair. It’s time to open your clutched fists and allow the wind of his mercy to turn your ashes into gold as you worship him.
It’s time for MORE.