In the church where Christ awakened my faith and my sense of calling, the pastor used to say from time to time: “We need to get our wanters fixed.” In most instances, he was pointing out that we are all too easily persuaded to embrace the goals and desires that our culture has prioritized. We want success or the approval of others. We want a bigger house, a newer car or the latest gadget. We want more time, less debt or better health. And while there may be nothing wrong with these goals in and of themselves, the “wants” on which we really need to fix our hearts, he suggested, are the desires of the Spirit. We need to “seek first God’s kingdom” and “set our minds on things above.” We need to “store up treasures in heaven” and “crucify the flesh” so we can “keep in step with the Spirit.”
That’s an important message, of course, especially as we enter the season of Lent. For many of us, the traditional practice of “giving something up for Lent” has this precise aim: to wean us from the wants that too often distract and control our lives so that we can cultivate desires that are more in keeping with the kingdom life we’ve been given as a gift of God’s grace.
But I wonder if there’s not another sense in which we “need to get our wanters fixed.” Perhaps the issue is not only what we desire, but the intensity with which we desire it. Maybe this is just a little morning weariness talking, but I sometimes wonder if my problem is not that I want “worldly things” too much – but that I want “godly things” too little. One psalmist writes: “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) And yet, if I’m honest with myself, there are many days in which my longings for “the things I want to want” – to rest in the presence of Christ, to understand the truth of Christ, to serve the purpose of Christ – are too anemic to motivate me to action.
In today’s Daily Office, the psalmist writes:
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
If the Lord gave you “the desires of your heart” today, what would you receive? Would it be something temporary or enduring? Something “of the world” or “of the Spirit”? And if the Lord fulfilled your desire for Himself, would the result be a trickle or a flood?
Do we need to get our wanters fixed? May our prayer today echo these words from A. W. Tozer: “O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.”