C.S. LEWIS wrote that the problem with our desires is not that they are too strong, but rather, they are too weak. He said it this way: "If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
This quote is from the book Desiring God which has been the most influential book in my life other than the Bible. And what Lewis is telling us, telling me, is to not settle for lesser things when the one thing which will make you most happy, God Himself, is being held out for you.
This notion strikes a chord deep within me for I struggle with desires for lesser things. I am constantly tempted to abandon what should be for something irrelevant. TV instead of Bible, fiction instead of prayer, cheeseburger instead of lean chicken or salad, second cheeseburger instead of saying 'no', spending instead of saving, staying up late instead of sleeping, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Honestly, I have friends who cannot relate to this. Likewise, I cannot relate to the person who doesn't struggle with this, though I know many who do not.
To be clear, I am not tempted to abandon God and become an atheist or a follower of some lesser joy. But I am tempted to fill my life with so much lesser stuff that there is little time for Him.
And this principle applies, I think, in other areas of my life because this bias for the trivial runs so deep within me. Today I went for a walk at the local nature center and a young man ran past me. Shirt off, sweat glistening on his fit torso, I saw him pass and felt a pang. I want so very much to run, like him, on the trail with no apparent difficulty. And I realize I want it so much that I want it more than iced mocha, more than other food that would hinder, more than staying up late, more than sleeping in.
Someone is probably snickering. OK, that's fine. Like I said, some don't get it. They think the answer is simply discipline. Well, I think they are fooled, it's not discipline. It's desire. They may have better, stronger, more mature desires, but it's desire, nonetheless. They are doing what they really want. So am I.
And what I want right now is to improve my wanting.