Psalm 37:3–4 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Delighting oneself in Jesus is a transformational journey. As we grow in delight, our desires are transformed and as our desires are transformed we grow deeper in delight. The problem occurs when we get this backwards—and we all do. I have spent way too many years trying to conform my desires to what I thought they should be. It is a fruitless fight. Notice how James characterizes the calculus of desire turned cancerous:1
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14–15)2
Here’s what I am learning—the more I take delight in Jesus, the more I experience his delight in me, which slowly but surely leads to a deep and surprising transformation of my desires. In other words, I experience Jesus (by his indwelling presence) planting in me the desires of his heart for my heart—and then granting their fulfillment. This is not behavior management. It is transformation. The Transcendent One, Jesus Messiah, steps into the seedbed of our inmost self and starts sowing. And yes, new things start growing. This is the way of the fruit of the Spirit.
For me, it begins with a very simple prayer: Jesus, I belong to you.
So how does one “belong” to Jesus? As I have prayed this prayer over time it has led me down what I would characterize as a transformational path of awakening. You will not be surprised how this path takes an assonantal, alliterative angle. ;0)
This awakening journey of belonging to Jesus begins with the germination of a single seed, which represents our awareness of his presence—the one to whom we would belong. Awareness arises into attention—like the shoot of a sprout breaking through the ground and reaching toward the warmth of the sun. Attention flourishes like leafy foliage, spreading the surface of our sensory engagement, becoming an ever deepening attunement. Attunement sends down roots into sturdy, grounded attachment where our lives become interconnected as the body of Jesus in the bonds of love. Attachment nourishes the flowering way of abiding and the seeming effortless bearing of much fruit. Finally comes the most generative and lasting yield of abiding—the fruit-filled seeds of abandonment to Jesus.3
And when even one person abandons themselves to Jesus, thousands become awakened.
Jesus, I belong to you.
Seeds . . .
leaves and roots,
flowers and fruits,
and seeds . . .
Wake up, sleeper! Rise from the dead! The garden of your life, the seedbed of your soul is about to move into a new kind of flourishing. Let’s go after it.
Farmer Father God, thank you for the gift and the grace of belonging to Jesus. Jesus, I belong to you. Awaken in me an ever deepening awareness of you. Wake me up to the seeds you have already sown in the seedbed of my inmost self that are ready and waiting to sprout. And so let awareness give way to this beautiful and patient journey of awakening. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
Did I commit an alliteration foul today? Somebody stop me. Seriously, are you resonating with this path of awakening? Is it ringing true to you? Where do you find yourself on the path today?
For the Awakening,
NOTES FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
1. Desire is a fire. It will either become in us a furnace of transformation or a raging wildfire destroying everything in its path. This is something of the nature of addiction—desire metastasized into soul cancer. And frankly, the way we have dealt with addiction in our time has unfortunately created two classes of sinners: amateurs and professionals. We need to understand addiction as the spectrum of broken desire and as the comprehensive nature of sin into which we are all born and from which we must all be delivered. The beautiful truth about addiction is how it shows us the quest of pure desire to worship. The only problem is the false god. The only way our desires can be trusted is to entrust them to Jesus. This is how addiction is overcome by abiding. Same quest—true God. We must finally learn that desire is not tamed by self denial. It is transformed by discipleship to Jesus.
2. Notice the placement of desire in Genesis 3:6–7. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.“
3. See also John 12:23–26. “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.“