Our hearts have many desires that are constantly clamoring to be satisfied. We desire security: we want to feel safe in our homes, safe while we are driving on our highways, crossing bridges, flying in planes, eating food, having adequate finances and reasonable protection from hurricanes and floods.
We desire comfort during the day to relax and enjoy some kind of entertainment, sleep peacefully, be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We desire pleasure from food and we who live in this part of country have high expectations. Pleasure from sex, fulfilled hopefully only within the bounds and bonds of marital love.
We desire some accomplishments like graduating, successfully raising a family, pursuing a career. We want to be respected and appreciated. Most especially, we all have a great desire to love and to be loved. These are some of our many desires.
All these desires are from God. The Biblical understanding of these desires is that God has placed all these desires in our heart. Therefore, they are good and wholesome and the fulfillment of these desires is part of the countless blessings showered upon us by our loving God.
However, the spiritual writers also tell us, “All things in moderation.” We should eat to live, not live to eat. Neither should the fulfillment of any one of these desires or even all of them be the goal of our life. There is more to life than the fulfillment of our many desires.
In John’s gospel Jesus says, “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn 6:35) He is obviously talking here about a hunger that is deeper than our hunger for food, pleasure, achievement and the other desire.
Jesus also says, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” (Jn 6:27) Here is the mystery: the same God who placed all these hungers and desires in our heart has also placed a desire and hunger in the depths of our being that only God can fulfill and satisfy. As St. Augustine so beautifully said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts will be restless until they rest in you.”
Hopefully, all of us have had the experience of feeling deeply loved by another, whether that other is a spouse, a friend, a child or a parent. That rich human experience of love is a small taste of the immensity and tender love that God has for us.
We should recognize, appreciate and become friends with the many desires of our heart and not treat them as some kind of worldly enemy. When we recognize that they are from God, we should rejoice in their fulfillment while simultaneously keeping them with the bounds of moderation. This will help us focus our attention on the deepest desire of our heart, namely the desire to love God and be loved by God.
All spiritual writers and especially the mystics have tried to tell us that God is constantly actively seeking our love more than we could ever search for God’s love. We should never put anything in the way of that love.
We should “Love God in all things and above all things.” This means we must be aware that the fulfillment of all the desires is a gift from God. For this we should be eternally grateful. To love God above all things means that we should spend quality time in prayerful union with Christ each day, reading and praying over the Scriptures, reflecting on how we are to moderate the many desires of our heart, and providing an empty space for Christ to enter and abide in our hearts.
God alone is the source of our contentment and a meaningful life.