Reading: Psalm 16
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” …The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
(Psalm 16:2, 4-5)
“What do you want?” That’s what Jesus asked two of John the Baptist’s disciples when they began to follow him.
Our wants and our desires often act like a compass for our lives. We pursue what we want when we want it. And then, as we grow up, we learn restraint. We see that our desires are not always good for us. We come to conflicting desires and we have to learn to prioritize them. What do I want more? Moreover, we learn that some desires are good and that some desires are bad, and we’re supposed to kindle the good ones while discouraging the bad ones.
It’s always been like that. But recently, shifts in our culture have made it feel like to deny your wants is to deny your very self. The mood is, if you want to be happy, you have to find out what your strongest desires are, and then pursue those. That is the path to happiness, and to self-realization. We usually say it like this: follow your heart's desire.
But are we really the sum-total of our desires? Is that who we are? Is that who we want to be? Will that really lead to happiness?
The reality is, pursuing our desires for their own sake leads us just as often to heartache and sorrow as it does to feelings of pleasure and joy. Money, power, sex, comfort, fame, personal fulfillment—these are the idols of the heart. They are false gods that multiply sorrows. And yet we pour out our drink offerings to them when we pursue them as though they have the power to satisfy us at the deepest levels.
But of course they don’t. Only God can do that.
That’s why David throws his lot in with the Lord, and why wisdom dictates that we do the same—even when it goes against our desires. For “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
Father, there are so many things I want that are not good; so many good things that I want too much. Show me my idols so I can cast them aside. And show me how my heart’s desire is only ever truly satisfied in you.