My greatest need is the thing I least want
This statement is true is it not? It explains why the good news of the offer of new life in Christ is the very thing I am so reluctant to accept.
Let me expand: “my heart is restless until it finds its rest in God” (to paraphrase Augustine). God has put “eternity in my heart” (Eccl 3:11).
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same. (The Timeless Writings of C.S. Lewis: The Pilgrim’s Regress, Christian Reflections, & God in the Dock)
But, following in the line of Adam, I would rather determine my own destiny, live my life my way, without reference to God, as the master of my own fate.
I am a dissatisfied soul who refuses to seek the only true solace:
- I am restless. Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28);
- I full of guilt. Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:29-30)
- I want life. Jesus says “I have come that you might have life and life to the full” (John 10:10). It is as Jesus said to the Pharisees in his day: You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)
If it is true for non-Christians that their greatest need is the thing which they least want, this is also true for my experience as a believer. This is the conundrum of why I know the good but don’t do it. I am living contradiction.
I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good . For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7:21-25)
Dick Lucas once said in a sermon: ‘The pew cannot control the pulpit. We cannot deliver “demand led” preaching because no one demands the Gospel’. These are profoundly pertinent words.
Of course there is a demand-led kind of preaching, but it won’t do your soul any good The same was true in Paul’s day. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers. 2 Tim 4:3.
So, it would seem to me there are two prayers which Gospel minded people might want to pray:
- Lord, so immerse me in your word that I think your thoughts and know your mind. May your agenda, your message, your life-giving Gospel be what emanates from my lips, not the wants and desires of a restless entertainment oriented audience.
- Lord, help me to want what I most need. Change my desires so that the attractiveness of the glory of God is my greatest desire, and incite a holy appetite for you in my deepest being.
Perhaps, with these thoughts in mind, my greatest desires will end up matching my greatest needs, and I will want what a need most.