https://www.flickr.com/photos/cadencrawford/8344048410
Caden Crawford/Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/cadencrawford/8344048410

Wanting not

“Please teach my heart to want nothing but You. I want to want You, Lord. I want to truthfully say, ‘Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT.’”

It’s the same every year: Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Christmas. Boxing Day. We gorge ourselves during the last several weeks of the year—on food, on consumer goods, on anything that brings us pleasure—and then wake up on the first day of January determined to be more altruistic.

We know that “stuff” will never make us truly happy and yet we remain on this cycle, believing the lie that one day we will find the perfect thing that finally makes our world okay. If it’s not gadgets and clothes, it’s money, food, entertainment, and a rush of adrenaline, fame or someone who loves us.

As a Christian teen, I pitied unbelievers who sought fulfillment in behaviours I wouldn’t dream of. Naïvely, I did not recognize the same patterns in my own life. My pursuits were different but the driving force was the same: a longing for significance. I began performing, trying to please people. What I lacked in beauty, athleticism or charisma, I tried to make up for with academic excellence, church involvement and perfect behaviour.

None of those efforts are inherently bad, but when the underlying goal is to earn people’s love, you set yourself up for a life of regret. The slightest indication that I’d fallen short sent me into a tailspin of anxiety, followed by self-flagellation. I’d pull away from people, trying to hide my brokenness and weakness, sabotaging any potential for true intimacy.

Harry Schaumburg, a Christian counsellor and author, says, “In demanding the bliss of someone’s real or imagined warmth, we become consumed with ourselves, which destroys the very ecstasy we seek. There is no way out. We are locked in reality, always wanting and therefore always destroying what we want.”

Two years ago, I realized that even my relationship with God had become a way to feel better about myself; confession and repentance were more about not feeling yucky than about pleasing God. I prayed: “Please teach my heart to want nothing but You. I want to want You, Lord. I want to truthfully say, ‘Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT.’”

I listed the things I wanted—to lose weight, to have a vibrant devotional life, to have victory over sin, to manage my time better, etc. Not a single thing on my list seemed contrary to God’s will but I knew I wanted those things more than I wanted God. Things began to change when I made hungering for God my daily, overarching goal.

God is patient and faithful and—I love this—God is for us. He doesn’t shame or condemn us for our cravings because He sees them for what they really are, even when we don’t. He is ready to meet every need.

My wish for you for 2015 is similar to Apostle Paul’s: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. . . who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:17-20).

Ann-Margret worships God in Montreal where she writes full time and is active at Temple Baptist Church in women’s ministry, evangelism and missions. Her fourth devotional book for tween girls, Truth, Dare, Double Dare, hit stores in October 2014. Visit www.annhovsepian.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/ann.hovsepian.author.

 

Dear Readers:

If ChristianWeek has made a difference in your life, please take a minute and donate to help give voice to stories that inform, encourage and inspire.

Donations of $20 or more will receive a charitable receipt.
Thank you, from Christianweek.

About the author

Ann-Margret Hovsepian lives in Montreal and writes full time (as a journalist, author and blogger) and is also active in women’s ministry, evangelism and missions. Her third devotional book for tween girls, Truth, Dare, Double Dare, hit stores October 2014. You can visit her blog at www.annhovsepian.wordpress.com or connect with her on her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ann.hovsepian.author).

  • Allen Macartney

    Thanks for this. It’s a great message, not just for teens and young people but also for people my age who have worked for decades. It’s easy to frown on people whose sin is more visible. Consumerism and an insatiable “wanting” is every bit as much sin. And wanting things is never satisfied. It’s like Barbara Streisand’s song that says, “I don’t want much, I just want more.” It sounds reasonable until you realize that we have so much compared to others. Thanks again for this piece.

    • Thank you for your insightful comments and feedback, Allen! Just today, when I was feeling anxious about a few things, the Lord reminded me to “seek first the kingdom of God . . . and all these things will be given to you as well” (paraphrasing). That truth injected my heart with peace and perspective and I have been able to get on with my day, trusting God with the question marks. God bless you!