Kecks in Paradise

Kecks in Paradise

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Day 28: If you want it, you can have it

When I was little, I had an exhaustive list of things I wanted to be when I grew up: a singer, a dancer, an author, a veterinarian, a teacher, a doctor, a movie star, and--let's not forget one of my favorites--a taxi cab driver--a desire born from a young love of hats and the Muppet Babies, who drove their taxis to the moon.

What can I say, I look good in a hat.

Excluding my dream of cab driving (one I ALWAYS had to explain), I didn't think much about why I wanted to be those things, just that I wanted them. And a lot of the time our desires operate on such a subconscious level that I think it is common to make a choice without realizing that that choice was motivated by a desire. We reach inside the greasy bag of potato chips, not because we enjoy the slick feeling it leaves on our knuckles as we remove our hands from the bag, nor because we are particularly hungry, but because we enjoy the sting of salt on our lips and the crunch of the treasure extricated from the bag. The desire for crunchy salty motivated the action for greasy crinkly.

For the past few months, I have been thinking about what my desires are at their very roots, knowing that those desires shape my priorities, and therefore my choices. If I was asked by the Lord directly, what do you want most of all, how would my heart respond? Deeper than a house or chickens or even more babies. What does my soul long for? And what am I doing to support that desire?

We had a teacher in our last stake who had said, "The Lord grants according to your desires, so you better make sure that your desires are in line with His will."

That was a thing that stuck for me. I have mulled it over for months, and the more you think about something, the more you seem to see it everywhere. I see it dotted all over the scriptures:

"What desireth thou?" asks Jesus.

And the people respond: restore my sight, or heal my daughter, or please let us stay with you.

And then he usually gives them what they want--like 9 times out of 10 whatever good thing they want, he helps them to get it. And the with the 1 rejection, he redirects them to something more appropriate. That gives me a good indication that it matters what we want.

One important thing in all this, though, is everything that was asked was a good thing. Though their request had varying degrees of depth, they were asking the Lord to satisfy righteous desires rather than what Dallin H. Oaks calls, "the worldly quartet of property, prominence, pride, or power." We all fall victim to those things from time to time, but at their roots, their desires were good.

And what I have learned as I have made a study of this is that our desire can become good. The prodigal son "came to himself" and desired no more to live riotously, but to make his way home to the father and serve him. There are all kind of personal, sacred experiences that we get a glimpse into through the scriptures that show how people were given new hearts.

I think Enos gives us a good example of this. He went into the woods to go hunt, and was thinking about things that his father had taught him. He says that his "soul hungered," and he knelt down and prayed for his soul, that he might know the joy of the saints and be forgiven of his sins. At this point, he didn't know that the things he had been taught were all true; he had a desire to believe, and he let that desire work within him. He prayed all day long, exhibiting a great degree of effort, and exercising faith. 

Then he said a voice "came to him," and it said, "Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed."

And he had this wonderful feeling of his guilt being swept away, after which he was instructed that all of this was a result of his faith.

Then immediately after that, his desire changed. He wasn't worried about his own soul anymore, he began to desire for the welfare of his brethren. So he followed the pattern he had just learned and exerted more effort, exercised more faith, and then again was answered.

It is a cool thing to realize--that you can want what is best, even if right at this moment your desires don't extend beyond potato chips. If you let your deeper desires work within you, work for them, and exercise faith, you can have it all, baby.

May God help us to yearn for that which is best and eternal, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

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