Wolf creek is overflowing its banks, and this normally languorous stream is raging with a fervency that borders on terrifying. It’s what they call “break up” in the Yukon. The ice that has covered the river all winter is cracking, breaking up, and crashing downstream with a thunderous ferocity. It happens in spring in Canada, and river dwelling homesteaders anxiously watch the water flow, hoping the ice doesn’t jam and cause floods that threaten their cabins and sled dogs.
It’s not spring here in Pennsylvania; it’s midwinter, and this thaw has captured my attention. I’m a child of the woods, and I encounter God most profoundly through nature. When he wants to get my attention, he often leads me to a quiet piece of woods or a raging river. Nature shifts my focus from worries of this life to the character of the God who created the world.
Today the ice is flowing, and pausing to notice shifts my gaze toward my Creator. Ice chunks the size of refrigerators plunge and bob down the chocolate-colored stream, crashing off rocks and smaller chunks of ice. I stay far from the bank. But even from a trail ten feet back, I notice a deeply submerged layer of ice beneath the brown current. The bottom of the creek remains frozen.
Listening closely, a guttural grinding noise is coming from the depths. I watch as a crack in the submerged ice layer widens, eventually allowing an enormous chunk to break free and cascade downstream. The grinding continues, and one piece at a time, I watch the ice that took so long to form in the depths of the creek as it is carried off by the current.
I think of the work God’s done in my life over the past two years. Most of it has gone unseen on the surface. But he’s been doing deep, guttural work in the subterranean chasms of my soul. He’s been transforming my identity in the deepest way, changing my desires – even the ones I thought were godly and honoring , and revealing attitudes that don’t bring him glory.
God wants to go deep in each of his children and set us free in the hidden places. He wants to transform our identities and our desires. Let’s look at four common desires and the way God might want to transform these desires in our lives:
The Desire to be Right
Most of us struggle with this one. We find it necessary to have the last word, to be an expert on the topic at hand, to prove to our husbands or our parents that we have the answers. This desire manifests itself when I can’t let a conversation drop, when I feel obliged to defend my stance at all costs, and when every conversation with my child turns into a lecture.
We need to let go of the constant need to be right. Instead, God wants to transform us to people who simply want to listen, care, love, and empathize.
The Desire to be Heard
Not unlike the desire to be right, some of us will go to extreme measures to voice our opinions. Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about your own life when someone else is talking? Do you spend most of the conversation thinking about how you’ll respond, instead of truly listening to a friend who is hurting? Do you make it a point to make your opinion known, even if it might hurt someone in your midst?
God wants to transform the desire to be heard into the desire to listen.
The Desire to Look Like You Have It All Together
It’s commendable to take care of ourselves. It’s simple good stewardship of our bodies, and our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. But we cross the line when we pretend to be what we are not, when we obsess over appearances, and when we refuse to be vulnerable. It’s never been easy for me to let others into the vulnerable parts of my life, but I’ve realized it’s necessary, possibly even essential.
If we’re going to go deep in relationships with others, we need to let them see who we really are. God wants to transform us from those who focus on putting on a good appearance to those who let others see their weaknesses. It’s only when we show the world our weaknesses that Christ’s strength can actually be made perfect in us.
The Desire to be Needed by Other People
Most of us want to be needed. Being needed brings purpose, and purpose leads to fulfillment and satisfaction in life. But what happens when the kids move out of the house, your husband signs the divorce papers, you lose the job, or you’re asked to step down from the ministry position?
God wants us to be defined not by our positions, not by the roles in which we’re important, not by where we’re needed. He wants us to be defined by the singular fact that he loves us. If my world is suddenly stripped away, is sitting alone in the midst of God’s love enough for me? Would it be enough for you?
He’s calling each of his children to a deeper encounter with his love. He wants to break up the icy depths of our souls and seal our identities as children dearly loved by the Most High God.
Today’s invitation is to pause and pray through these areas of desire in your own life, and ask God to reveal additional areas of desire: the desire to be liked, the desire for attention, the desire to appear intelligent and beautiful. None of these desires are wrong, but when they become all-important pursuits in our lives, we need God to come and break up the depths of our souls. Will you pray about where God wants to change your desires and let him speak truth into that place?