What if it turns out that the desire for God and the desire for love are really one and the same desire? Note that I said the desire for “God,” not the desire for the possible benefits of a relationship with God, such as comfort and peace, healing and salvation. These are the kinds of benefits people tend to talk about regarding their respective desire for God.
I have had many discussions with persons over the years who said they had no desire for there to be a God. Or more to the point, they said, “I don’t need God.” I have never known quite how to answer that. After all, we may well be constructed, or at least placed into a cosmos where we can seemingly get by sufficiently well without a God pulling strings from the wings.
Perhaps the best response I have come up with is to answer their question with another question: “But do you want there to be a God?” Sometimes this has stopped persons in their verbal tracks, as they attempt to take in the question. What does “want” have to do with God, life, purpose, personal satisfaction and fulfillment? I would venture to assert that want is every bit as significant as need. Which is in the end the more significant to your daily life and strivings, wants or needs? I already know the answer: wants, hands down.
So I have asked persons, “Do you need or want love?” The usual answer involves a combination of the two, though a few have maintained they can get along fine on their own, like being their own islands, with no loved ones to be concerned with, to pull them down as well as pick them up. For the most part, however, persons have decided that love is more of a want than a need; that is, love is a matter of the heart’s desire, less urgent than say, the stomach’s yearning or the lungs gasping. This does not make love any less important than our physical needs; it just takes it out of the realm of necessity and puts in squarely in the area of freedom and choice.
What if that is precisely the arena in which God has chosen to operate with us regarding answering this singular question? Let’s put this in a first person context. Instead of saying “Do you want love,” let’s ask, “Do you want Me?” What if these are in the end the same question, our attitude toward love being one with our attitude toward God, albeit in a way hidden to most?
This brings us back to my initial question: what if our desire for God is one with our desire for love, regardless of whether we have yet made the connection? After all, the Apostle John literally equates God and love, saying “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).
I am convinced that to desire love is to desire God. And that just as truly, to desire God is to desire love. Further, to desire God for God’s own sake is roughly akin to loving God for God’s own sake. And isn’t this how we want to be loved, as well as to love another? Not due to this or that benefit, this or that personal characteristic, but because that person is lovable in his or her own right; or more to the point, because we actually do love that person, well, simply because we love that person. We can give you reasons, but the love itself is greater than any reason given as to why it should exist. This is the secret of love: it exists for its own sake. Love, like God, is our ultimate end, rather than merely our means.
What do you desire when you desire love? I mean love between friends or life partners. Likely you begin with the yearning to be loved. One song which haunted me as a child directly addresses this kind of longing. It is titled, “Someone to Watch over Me.” I wanted somebody to love me as I sought to be loved, to be there for me, with me through whatever comes. And second – a very close second – I wanted to love somebody with my entire being, a soul-mate if not my “life-partner.” Somebody I could totally trust, who would not hurt me – nor would I hurt. That would also mean that there would be this understanding between us, like a sacred shared ground, of who we were and what we were all about as persons and as a kind of corporate “us.” And we would both honor this hallowed turf of our relationship. So there would be a definite kind of safety, maybe even a safety net, a shared a place to land and recover or recoup after a tough day or disappointing turn of events.
And what do you desire when you desire God? Assuming of course, you can identify what it means to desire God. Likely the same sorts of things you seek in love: being loved, loving, understanding, safety and shared space. You would surely also seek peace, a sense of well-being, a comfort that all shall be well eternally, whatever is to come before our holy then.
I well remember when I came to desire and yearn for there to be a God, a “Somebody” there watching over me, who would love me as I wanted to be loved, and would be as loveable as this “Somebody” I vaguely hoped there would be. I did not understand what exactly I was seeking of course; I just had a sense that I would know it if I found it – or if it found me — know what I could not describe but wanted desperately to embrace me.
That is exactly what happened when I received the baptism of the Love of God, the Holy Spirit, which it turns out is what Jesus came to deliver, came to bring about, opening the way to an eternal Relationship, which is the kingdom of Heaven. What I received – Who I received – turned out to be far greater than what I thought I needed and wanted. I received a Love which overflowed the banks of my limited being, just like Scripture promises. God gives us more than we desire, or think we do. Perhaps since God is infinite, so also is God’s Love. Make that love itself. In all truth, love is greater than we have imagined.