What are your desires? What does your heart long for in life, what would finally make you happy, content, satisfied with your life? Life and liberty aside, what is it that your heart truly desires, what makes you happy? For some, happiness is a burger, fries, seat on the sofa and a Netflix movie, you know, the little things in life. Although many of us can attribute feelings of happiness to activities like eating good food, buying new shoes, or traveling to some warm and exotic place, these are superficial patterns to what makes most people happy. While Buddhists, scientists, and psychologist all search for that exact formula for what makes a human being happy God is already well aware.
If I were to ask you to share with me the desires of your heart, you would probably have no problem providing me with a list of a few answers. That can be valuable, but very often deciding what you want, plans and goal setting are a left-brain process. Perhaps you sit down, think about what you want, and write down a list. Maybe it is a new car, less body fat, a higher-paying job, a lottery win, a better retirement plan, and so on. There is no doubt many in society work so hard to have it all: a beautiful home, a loving partner, a successful job and more.
However, what happens when these successes do not equal happiness in our lives and we are left feeling unfulfilled, unsatisfied and unhappy? How much of what you think you want, is what you want at a deeper level? Asking your heart what it wants can reveal desires, dreams, insights and inspiration beyond those you may be consciously aware of, and ones that will always most benefit your life and others. You may be surprised to learn that material things rarely determine long-term happiness, so how do we get onto the road that leads to happiness. Knowing that which you have always assumed would make your life much more joyful may not actually improve your long-term happiness at all. How do we receive the desires of our heart? Moreover, what are we looking for?
Our desires and dreams profoundly shape us. Proverbs 4:23 exhorts, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Any object, person, or idea that finds a foothold in a person’s heart has a profound capacity to influence how that person will think and act. This is often the way that sinful desires lead to sinful lifestyles. However, godly desires can also bear significant fruit in a person’s life. As the Psalmist declares in Psalm 37 that God will give you the desires of your heart “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” We love the idea that the Father will give us the desires of our heart. Unfortunately, when we focus only on receiving good things, we miss the psalm’s context, which is a divine promise with human obligations. God’s greatest interest is not to indulge us, but rather to give us more of Himself. Self-indulgent prayers overlook the first requirement for the promise’s fulfillment: delighting in the Lord. Our delight must be first in the Lord. It must be the priority in our lives.
Conversely, even before we can delight in the Lord, He must first give us a NEW HEART. Your own heart is bad at best. In Matthew 15:19 Jesus explains “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” He went on saying “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’” – Mark 7:20-23. Jesus reveals the catalyst of our wants: our fleshly desires come from our innermost being. Sin does not just come from outside forces. It is borne from hidden little niches residing internally in our thoughts and intentions, from the secret desires that only the mind and heart can envision. In our fallen state, the desires of our hearts do not come from God.
Even in the beginning, Genesis 6:5 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Furthermore, the heart is so corrupt and deceitful that our motives are unclear even to ourselves. As sinful creatures, we devise and create evil things in the arrogance and self-sufficiency of our hearts – Proverbs 16:30; Psalm 35:20; Micah 2:1; Romans 1:30. Jeremiah in Jeremiah 17:9 further confirms the nature of man’s heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Perhaps that is why the Palmist when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba David in Psalm 51:10 petitions God to “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” The more obvious question here is have you come to the end of yourself and truly asked the Lord to change your desires if they are not His desires?
If I may suggest least we forget the Pharisees whom Jesus denounced in Matthew 15:8, when He says, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Although we pray and study, read and learn, we all must always be careful to recognize our own heart as nothing more than a cesspool of waste desperately in need of complete replacement.