I am curating stories for a blog project called, “Found Wanting.” (If you’d like to submit a guest post, learn more here.)
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was not uncommon for him to approach the sick and sin-sick with this question: “What do you want?” In John 5, he speaks with a man lying next to the healing waters of Bethesda, a man who has been an invalid for 38 years.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”
The man seizes an excuse. “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up.”
Was it too much for this man to hope for healing?
What is too great a risk to invite the responsibility for walking again?
There can be fear in desire: fear that we will want what God will always refuse to give; fear that we will not want whatever God, in his sovereignty, chooses to give.
Ultimately, we are profoundly afraid of ceding into the hands of God our trust.
I’m grateful for those willing to share their stories of desire here. In my book, Teach Us to Want, I claim that:
“Desire takes shape in the particularities of our lives. We cannot excerpt desire from the anthology of our stories. Our desires say something about us – who we have been, who we are and who we are becoming. They tell a part of the story that God is telling through us, even the beautiful and complicated story of being human and becoming holy.”
“Genesis is a book of beginnings and blessings. And if it is a book about unfaithful starts – Adam – it is also a book about faithful endings – Abraham. I trust, by grace, that my story (and yours) will, at the end of [our] days, have traveled that distance.”
* * * * *
I’ve wanted to produce entertainment (movies, music, and books). But as a Christian (with a history of self-esteem issues), I’m suspicious of that desire.
“Hollywood is the devil’s territory,” I’ve heard. And some scriptures encourage self-cynicism too. “There is a way that seems right to every man, but the end thereof is death.” The Gospels seem to teach that existing down here is about losing and dying, not gaining and living.
Rich men go to Hell. Ambition is pride. Right?
I therefore wonder how likely it is that God would “want” me to be a producer. And isn’t it a little too convenient egotistically: that God’s hypothetical will could make me rich and independent of the 40-hour, jerk bosses that everyone else has to endure?
And then there’s mom’s (my first pastor’s) philosophy: If I can’t do it (and thus far I cannot), surely that means He doesn’t want me to.
Or maybe (I think hopefully), I’m living the whole Joseph thing – and just spending time in my ditch/dungeon right now. Still, it’s hard to get inspired over a maybe.
How do we ever know if obstacles equal God’s “no,” or the enemy’s “quit”? It’s tough to decide between faith and common sense; I’m always leaning toward the latter. It’s safer. It protects me from crushing disappointment.
Why crushing? I was a nerd and social outcast as a kid, but I performed music and wrote well. So being creative was my safe haven, the redeeming factor of my existence. My way of proving “them” wrong, perhaps. There had been a lot riding on my success; the psycho-emotional stakes were high. I use the past-tense “were,” because over the years I masked my disappointment with feigned indifference, and now I’m afraid it’s no longer feigned.
Which leads me to my view of God in respect to my desires. Deep down, in spite of my rational mind, I see God as hating everything I love, loving everything I hate.
And isn’t that my fault because I’m sinful and corrupt? What else am I gonna say? It’s HIS fault?
Steve Burks is a musician, husband, and father who struggles with reason and Christianity. He lives in Dallas.