The Mountain of Desire

I don’t think most of us in the Western world have any clue how deep and sick our selfishness is. We do not understand how much of our lives are actually focused on ourselves. Unfortunately, the American way results in a depth of selfishness that is blind to the trials and tribulations of the world around us. We do tremendous amounts of harm to people all around us in the pursuit of selfish gain, never acknowledging the trail of wreckage we leave behind. I have seen more of this truth in the last few years than I care to admit or even acknowledge. We are a selfish people. Sadly, we’ve been trained to live that way.

The culture we live in today is obsessed with who we are and what we desire. We eat foods that comfort and soothe our appetite for even more food. We sit mind-numbingly watching shows, movies, and programs and playing video games that we herald as something we deserve after a long day of work, all while subconsciously being taught to live for ourselves. Those games, shows, and movies teach us selfish thought patterns all while entertaining us and removing our awareness that they’re harming us. Our children are taught to be the best in school, sports, and activities that interest them. They’re taught to excel in these activities, and to pursue the life they desire, not the life that God desires for them. Parents work countless hours in hopes of giving their children the desires of their hearts, all under the guise of “giving them a better life”. We go to school to pursue what we want from our lives. We take hours of classes to go out and become something, but that “something” usually becomes further obsessed with feeding his/her own selfish desires. We pile up debt to pursue the things desired, all in the name of “living the dream.” We “go to church” on our own terms and if the service isn’t just what we needed, we walk out irritated that we got nothing out of it. We get married to the man/woman we “love” and then when that “love” runs out and we’re sick of serving their selfish desires and not getting our own needs met, we divorce and separate what God brought together and pursue the next desire. This list could go on and on. (Of course I understand that every single thing I’ve listed in this paragraph has exceptions that are not wrong…but don’t let the exemption be the point in your own mind.)

We are truly obsessed with ourselves. We want what we want and that’s all there is to it. That’s been engrained into our hearts from most every side of our lives. Frankly, it’s been happening since the fall of mankind. Adam and Eve were fed with a selfish desire for more than what God had already given them and a desire for something he commanded them not to eat. They were tempted to want more than He gave them. We have a mountain of desire in our hearts as well. It’s a mountain of immense and even unquenchable danger. Its edges are sharp and dangerous. Its walls are steep and full of consequence. I want to be clear, though. This mountain of desire is one that can be climbed. It is and we all climb it. It wouldn’t take any of us very long to list off tons of people who have been able to climb high on their own mountains of desire.

The hard part is that there is no finish line of accomplishment with desire. It’s only end is death. Solomon said that after pursuing all that his heart desired, he found it to all be vain. It never proved to be profitable. This man was wealthy beyond measure, having any and every thing his heart found pleasure in, and called it all striving after the wind. The mountain of desire in our hearts is a mountain we climb constantly, but it’s a mountain that’s highest point is found when we’re laying dead upon it. It is frivolous.

This unquenchable desire within us for more can never be met with created things. The hole within our hearts can never be filled with the physical things that surround us. Solomon said in the next chapter of Ecclesiastes that eternity has been set in our hearts. When we left eternal things to pursue our own desires, we left a hole in our hearts that could be not be filled by the things of this world. It’s impossible. When we left eternal life with God, we left the heartbeat of our lives. It’s why we crave, so indulgently, the things of this life.

This desire can only be met with the Creator Himself. The Psalmist said it best:

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4 NIV

The delight of our lives must be the LORD. When He is our delight, the desires of our hearts will be God and His perfect will. The desires of your life that consume your thoughts, time, and energy will only drag you up the mountain of desire further, where you will die hanging on a lonely cliff of wanting more, if those desires are not allowed to be filled by the eternal God who can fill the eternal hole. It is when, and only when, we give up our desires and pursue Christ that we really begin to experience true fulfillment.

Jesus called himself the “Bread of Life”. Think about the depth of that statement. Jesus was claiming to be the only thing that could truly fulfill us. To those outside of the arena of faith, such a statement is a bold statement exposing the depth of Jesus’ pride and representing what only a narcissist could believe of himself. Either Jesus was a narcissistic ego-maniac or He was right. If He was right, then our desires for validation, love, encouragement, etc. could be met only in Him. He didn’t  describe Himself as a piece of the bread of life, but as THE Bread of Life. Jesus knew and said that He was and is the true bread that comes down from Heaven to feed the nations. He was/is true fulfillment. While most come to Jesus looking for temporary fulfillment, He is THE fulfillment. Life comes through and in Him.

So, how do we turn this page in our selfish lives? How do we leave behind the desires of the “old man”, as scripture calls our old lives of sin, to pursue the only real life?

In the midst of a sad prophecy by Jesus to His disciples, Peter challenges Jesus’ words that He must go and die. Peter thinks this is ridiculous and begins to challenge Jesus and even says he won’t let that happen. Jesus scolds him and says:

“You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” 

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:33-38 NIV

Jesus makes it very clear that our thinking and God’s thoughts are not the same. Even while our desires, like Peter’s, may seem innocent and noble, they still may not be the will of the Father. This is so overwhelming for our feeble minds to conceive. How many of us would have done the same thing as Peter? I certainly would have thought something similar to Peter, desiring that Jesus be allowed to stay with me and not suffer. However, God is holy and His thoughts are on things above. My thoughts are on the things of man, and my life has proved this to be true all too often. I, like Peter, would have been thinking about what I wanted in that moment.

Last night was our last night as a family staying in the camper trailer. We played games with the kids and made a great night of it together, but it was a sobering evening for Lisa and I. You might think we’re rejoicing to be moving out of the camper. However, I think we’ve learned a lot about the desires of our hearts in here. I’m sitting in the camper this morning after two years of pretty challenging living, but also beautiful experiences that have drawn us together in Christ. I’m thinking back over the last two years with this camper and what I thought I wanted. I never wanted to live in a camper trailer. I never would have chosen to live like we have for the last couple of years as we traveled and served. But, what I wanted and what my Father wanted for me came face to face two years ago. I had different plans and dreams for my life, but my gentle Father had a better plan. It was a plan that drew me out of my comfort zone and made Lisa, the kids, and myself all give up a lot of our ideas about what our lives were going to look like. I don’t regret it for one moment. I have lost more of my life in the camper, only to gain something much greater from it all.

As I lay in bed last night, I realized how much I had learned about my own desires. I was thinking on the events of the last couple of years and realized how much more I trust our Heavenly Father than ever before because of this life. He has become our “daily bread” in way I never could have imagined. We have found ourselves welcoming His will into our lives instead of trying to find a way around it. In fact, I believe our own will has become His will in more ways than I probably even realize.

This progress of faith and trust has come at a price, but oh what a beautiful scene it has been to lose our lives for His sake. We have left behind that mountain of desire for more only to get more than we ever imagined. We have found that He is good enough. His promises are true and the life He promises is not a life of going to church and attempting to follow each command of not doing this or that. The Life He promises is in being the church, His body. The promise becomes so real when we see He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is nothing greater than just knowing Him and being with Him. He is our daily bread.

I’ve come down off of that mountain I used to call my dreams. That mountain of desire consumed my life with selfishness, anxiousness and fear. It was a life that pit me against my family. It was a life pursued for me and my pride. Those rocks that once seemed so exciting to climb, have now become a distant memory of who I used to be. Praise Father for that beautiful change!

I want to encourage you to get down off of your own mountain of desire. I want to challenge you to re-examine your life through the eyes of God and consider His will instead of your own. It may be that He’s calling you to live in a camper trailer as well. I kind of doubt it, but maybe He is. Maybe He just wants you to stop on your way home from work today to help the struggling guy changing his flat tire. Maybe He wants you to spend a lot less money this Christmas in order to help others whose needs are much greater than the selfish extravagancies you’d choose to spend your money on. Maybe God’s calling for a change in your actions at home. Maybe He’s calling for you to turn the T.V. off so that you can spend some time on your knees tonight. Maybe He’s calling you to repentance. Can you hear Him calling you or are you still climbing the mountain?

I challenge you to sit still for a moment. Sit quietly and consider the steps of your life up till now. Is this the life you wanted or the life He wanted for you? Are you allowing Jesus to live through you or are you still pursuing the life you desire? No one but you can answer those questions, but you have to be willing to slow down, ask them, and listen to His answer.

He’s calling you off of the mountain. Will you listen?

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

Philippians 3:7-11 NIV


~ by Derek Guyer on December 12, 2011.

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