Today we’ll talk about one simple concept and then wrap up with an opportunity to contemplate and pray about an important question from Jesus that might make us a little uncomfortable. The question is, ‘What do you want?’
Wanting is a tricky thing isn’t it? Sometimes we’re afraid of wanting the wrong thing. Or we’ve become convinced that wanting is bad or selfish. But what if instead of ignoring our needs or desires, Jesus offers us a better way- inviting us to know and understand them? Because seven times in the Bible Jesus asks, “What do you want?”
“What do you want?” he asked her. She said to him, “Promise that one of my sons will sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” Matthew 20:21
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. Matthew 20:32
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked them. Mark 10:36
Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see again.” Mark 10:51
Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” John 1:38
“What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Lord, I want to see again.” Luke 18:40-41
Four thoughts about wanting:
#1: It’s important to ask, ‘what do I want’, but it’s even more important to ask ‘Who is influencing what I want’? We see more ads per day than our grandparents saw in a lifetime. As you already know, reflecting on this question isn’t about making a Christmas list for Jesus of things you want under your tree, this is deep soul-searching work to get to the heart of what you are deeply longing for.
#2: Epicurius came up with a good test anytime he felt himself being pulled by a strong desire, he asked himself, “What will happen to me if I get what I want? How will I feel after?”
#3: All our desires are a reflection of our desire for God. Relationships, sex, career, food, politics, exercise, drugs, shopping, more stuff, it flows from a longing for what only God can provide.
#4: Getting clear on what we want helps us minimize regret.
My friend Hank Fortener has identified that he wants to be present for his kids. And I deeply resonate with a practice he uses to make sure that happens. Here is what he says,
“One of my fears is regretting missing my kid’s life. Not their actual life- but the day-to-day moments. When I’m with them I can be so distracted by my phone or my mind or menial tasks- I think I could look back and wonder what the hell I was doing that was more important than being present. So I have this trick.
I sit in my car outside my house before I go in for dinner. I close my eyes. I imagine I have just died. I’m leaving this planet- this life- this dimension… But suddenly I am given one chance to live this day one more time. I open my eyes, imagining that I have been reinserted into my life. Then I go inside and eat dinner with my family. I savor every second. I get a second chance for the first time.”
Fredrick Buechner said, ‘One life on this earth is all we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seen to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.’ And so, may you slow down long enough to hear the deep desires of your heart and to honestly answer the question that Jesus is asking, What do you want?