“But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).

SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING, ONE OF OUR MOST DANGEROUS TENDENCIES IS TO SETTLE FOR TOO LITTLE. When we’ve been disappointed by what life has shown us, we’re tempted to lower our expectations. Yet a greater wisdom would often point us in the opposite direction. Our problem is not that we’ve desired too much, but that we’ve settled for too little. At least where God is concerned (and, in a certain sense, even where this world is concerned), we need to elevate our aim and enlarge our desires.

The problem of sin, in fact, comes down to the problem of abandoning the great desires that are our birthright from God. With regard to these desires, we have a spiritual adversary who whispers that he knows of “better” ways they can be satisfied, and we foolishly barter with him. But eventually we find that we’ve been cheated. What were promised to be superior satisfactions turn out to be pitifully inadequate pleasures. And in our flat, unfulfilled misery, we begin to complain about our desires, as if there was something unfair about our having been given them.

There are two tragedies here. One is that we allow ourselves to be defrauded of the life-giving joy that our Creator has in store for us. But the second is even more sorrowful: we give up longing for the joy of God and settle for a life of dreary disillusionment. Having robbed us of our heart’s desire, our enemy “consoles” us with the lie that our hopes were too high to start with. “Nobody ever gets to have what he wants,” he says. “You may as well get used to it.” And somewhere in the nether regions there is a chorus of harsh, croaking laughter over the claiming of another victim.

Yet if the Scriptures teach anything, they teach that God is the God of joy (Nehemiah 8:10). What once could have been ours is not fully available in this world, broken as it is by our folly. But rather than sell out, we should seek the higher things with renewed love. And that is just what we’ll do if, like our spiritual ancestors, we long in our hearts for “a better, that is, a heavenly country.”

“I pray for your desires that they may be great, rather than for your satisfactions, which may be so hazardously little. You are going forward toward something great” (Carl Sandburg).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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