Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What do you want?

Some years ago in Bible study, we the participants were asked to write a letter, a prayer of sorts, in answer to Jesus' question found in John 1:38, "What do you want?" It was the first session of the study and the leader challenged us to ask ourselves what we were really seeking from Jesus, and to express that desire, the deepest desire of our hearts, in letter form and tape it in the back of our workbook to be opened at the end of the study.

My letter remained there, taped to the back page of my workbook, for years. Years! As a matter of fact, just a few weeks ago I finally removed the letter and opened it. I left it unopened at the end of the study because I knew what it contained and I knew my desires remained unchanged and, in my mind, unmet.

I won't share the contents of my letter here but as I reread it after so many years I remembered my frustration in wanting that desire of my heart, seeking so hard after it and feeling disappointed.

Of course, I'm wiser now, or at least I hope so. I see what I so desperately wanted then was not in God's plan nor would it have proven to be that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. God's will is always better. Always.

When I wrote the letter, I wasn't seeking God nor His will. I was seeking my desire. I knew enough to ask Him for it, but in reality I wanted my desire more than I wanted Him, hence the frustration and disappointment.

Which leads me to the question, What am I seeking today? Like the question from a previous post, Am I seeking the Lord, or only what He can do for me?

I think of many things I've sought from Him over the years in the various stages of my life. For instance, I've made no secret of the fact that I have often struggled with issues of calling and purpose. I've wondered about my place in this world and whether I would find it or miss it. I've sought ministry, and meaning and purpose that I perceived inherent there.

I've begged for a friend, a close girlfriend. I've asked for success and ease and comfort. Then there are those things I never actually prayed for but sought with earnest desire all the same: a new sofa, new countertops, a new house.

There is nothing wrong with asking the Lord, with taking our burdens to Him. Nothing wrong with that at all! He asks us, invites us, commands us to bring our needs to Him. I'm just wondering about my motives in asking, as well my response when He doesn't do as I ask, when I ask.

Where am I disappointed and frustrated? What am I seeking that I'm not getting? What do I do with that?

In my old Bible, jotted in the margin next to Ps. 27 are the words:

We will seek after what we truly desire.

What do I truly desire? What am I seeking? What consumes me? What do I want from the Lord?

I pray for the same earnest, singleminded passion of David in Ps. 27:4,

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lordand to seek him in his temple.

One thing! To seek wholeheartedly after the Lord: His Presence, His Person, His glory my one desire! When He asks, "What do you want, Lisa?", to say "You! I want You!"--may that be my desire, my passion, my singular purpose.

One thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward of God in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 3:13-14


  1. I pray that would be my one desire, too. Why do I get so bogged down in the things that won't satisfy? Why do I forget so easily?

  2. I taught on Mt 19 today where Peter asks what will the disciples receive for they have left everything behind. Jesus' response is essentially hundredfold and eternal life. This has made me think how trustworthy is His economy and how beggarly is our understanding of it. To have the fullness, we must be emptied. To be satisfied, we must be desperately needy. He always fills to the overflowing those who have poured themselves out to Him alone. This is my passion as well.

  3. Would you please quit reading my "mail"?! :-) Why is it so hard to let go of the fleeting tangible things to reach for the eternal Immortal Invisible God only Wise?

    When will I stop seeing Him as a means to an end but as the End in Himself?

    Thanks for another challenging post.

  4. Thank you Lisa for always returning our eyes to the ONE.

    To be with Him is what I truly want.

  5. Love this Lisa! Love it. It is so often my own heart's cry and my own questions of myself. We sing a song that is based on a psalm... "Whom have I in heaven but thee? And besides Thee I desire nothing on earth..." I always wonder...Can I sing that and truly mean it? Truly? And I have to say that in my deepest moments of hurt I have come to realize that it is true. But then the easy life comes along and again my focus gets off. Love this post!

  6. There are so many [selfish] desires that I need God to surgically remove from my heart. Thanks for these thoughts... I, too, want "more of Him" to be my one, true desire, the one that I seek after.

  7. Lisa,
    I have said this before, and I will continue to say it, You are such a gifted writer. I can only imagine what your bible studies are like.
    You have a beautiful ability to share the truth with passion and conviction.
    I absolutely love it!