1 John 2:15-16 NLT
'Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.'
The disciple’s challenge is the choice between love of this world and love for God. God has placed free will into our hands; he is not an enforcer; we have responsibility to decide our response to God.
One of my inspirations as I pursue my life as a lay, contemplative Franciscan is that of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Following Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Toleration, AD 311 Christians went from being defined as atheists, to religious acceptance and status. The discipline produced through periods of sporadic persecution ended; comfort and security took their place. The first Christians who relocated to the desert, either as hermits or small communities, wanted to ensure they were not consumed with the earthly benefits official acceptance offered them.
They faced the problem we face today; to identify our heart’s desire. “Desire” is a very powerful word, most often associated with love and sexuality. Advertisers have identified it and direct promotions incessantly in our direction offering to satisfy this deep-seated inner demand with tawdry material products. Like the Desert Fathers before us, we are to choose between settling for the comforts our society offers and the pursuit of God in all his fullness.
I have taken years to discern where my heart’s desire lies. I’ve pursued recognition, profile, material well-being, relationships, self-indulgence – before settling upon the fact that for me my heart’s desire is to be attentive and still before and in God. The pressures I experienced as I walked this path were immense, and I had to take time to discover how to be present to God’s presence in each moment, rather than be distracted and dominated by my fears. I had to choose where to focus.
QUESTION: What is your heart’s desire?
PRAYER: Lord, help me to identify honestly where my loves and desires really are, and grow within me a deeper, greater love for you.