But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness. (Ps. 78:52)
The cartoon world has an ongoing fascination with amnesia. Somebody hits their head on a rock and forgets who they are, or gets into a bicycle accident and goes home with no knowledge of their former life. Usually, forgetting who we are doesn’t happen that quickly; it happens over a long time, as the right desires become misplaced.
Psalm 78 refers to God’s faithfulness amidst this type of forgetfulness. The passage refers to the many ways God’s people have had the right desires fulfilled in the wrong ways. A God-given yearning for good leadership led them to advocate for a king against God’s wishes; a God-given desire to be amenable to other people’s beliefs led them to abandon their unique relationship with God. Sometimes, God’s people abandoned his principles altogether because they were carried away by their desires. Sometimes, we (incorrectly) draw the conclusion that desires are bad, and that ours should be neglected.
A friend once told me, “Usually when we find a desire popping up in our heart, we rush to contentment. But when we figure out we can’t usually make ourselves content, we feel lost. I wonder what might happen if—before rushing to contentment—we prayerfully asked: ‘What God-given desire is not being met in my life right now that this desire is showing me?’ and ‘How might God be calling me to steward that desire in this season?’” God’s faithfulness in leading his people through the wilderness toward the fulfillment of their desires may take longer than we expect. And yet God invites us (with our desires) to lean into his way of being with us.
Reflect on the God-given desire you have experienced recently.
Ethan Linder is an editor and the pastor of Hospitality, Collegians, and Young Adults at College Wesleyan Church in Indiana, where he lives with his wife, Sarah, and their three sons.
© 2021 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.