Imagine a husband and wife. They have a very happy family. The husband regularly gives the wife gifts, surprising her with flowers, cards, and time away from the kids so she can read her favorite book at the local coffee shop. He takes time to play with his children and loves to make them laugh when they wrestle on the floor.
The husband earns a fair amount of money and can afford to provide for all the material needs of his family well beyond necessities. The kids have a huge yard to play in. The wife has a great car to drive. They go on nice vacations. The wife has beautiful jewelry and a closet full of complimentary clothes. All is well.
Then tragically the husband dies in a car crash while away on a business trip. The integrity of the family unravels in light of the loss. They can’t quite figure out how to move forward.
After his death, will his family focus on the fact that he won’t be around anymore to provide such great gifts?
How odd would it be if the family simply continued on business as usual. How odd would it be if one of their close friends asked them, “How are you getting along after your loss?” and they said, “We are doing just fine. We still have all the stuff he bought us. We don’t miss him at all!”
Sure, those gifts were nice, but a million times more than their desire for those gifts they'd just want him back. They would give up all the vacations, toys in the yard, and precious jewelry to have him back. Him and him alone. They want him. His gifts don’t matter in the least if they can’t have him.
This is how God wants us to yearn for Him. Him and Him alone. Not His gifts but the Giver. And the greatest news in the world is that if you want Him, you can have Him, and no car crash will ever take Him away from you.
What do you want most?
More than any other gift, God loves to give Himself. Would you care if God was taken away, but you still received all His blessings? God is most interested in giving you Himself.
That is what He wants to give.
Do you want it?
What if I recognize that my desires are not as they should be?
As we approach Easter, three responses are especially appropriate.
1. Repent of your lack of desire of God. Confess it to Him.
2. Pray that God will adjust your desires and make your heart seek Him as the ultimate priority. Plead with Him for the great mercy of seeing Jesus as supremely valuable over all else.
3. Continue to pursue God by faith even when you don’t “feel it,” knowing that oftentimes it is the process of continuing in obedience (Bible reading, praying, discipling, etc.) that actually adjusts our desires to the way they should be.
Zach Nielsen is one of the pastors at The Vine Church in Madison, Wisconsin, where he serves in the areas of preaching, leadership development and music. He is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa and Covenant Theological Seminary and blogs at Take Your Vitamin Z. Twitter at @znielsen.