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Desiring God

September 12th, 2003 · 1 Comment

What struck me most in Desiring God by John Piper were the strings that resonated with my heart, in the place where I find myself at the moment, in particular the first few chapters: “Worship” and “Love” strongest. If I had to summarize, I would say that Piper emphasized to me the importance of emotions in worship and the difference between love and duty –

…worship is an end in itself…Happiness in God is the end of all our seeking….Genuine feelings of the heart cannot be manufactured as stepping stones to something else. p.90

If I take my wife out for the evening on our anniversary and she asks me, “Why do you do this?” the answer that honors her most is “Because nothing makes me happier tonight than to be with you.”
“It’s my duty” is a dishonor to her.
“It’s my joy,” is an honor.

Dutiful roses are a contradiction in terms. If I am not moved by a spontaneous affection for her as a person, the roses do not honor her. In fact, they belittle her. They are a very thin covering for the fact that she does not have the worth of beauty in my eyes to kindle affection. All I can muster is a calculated expression of marital duty. p.93

Other than that, this book gave me an appetite to read more Solzhenitzyn who was able to say from the Gulag Archipelago vol 2 . “Bless you prison, for having been in my life!” p 264

And more C.S. Lewis too…..

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them: it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

C.S. Lewis A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C.S. Lewis p. 22-3
page 293

This one I had heard before:

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.

The Weight of Glory and other addresses 1-2

I liked this aspect of praise, which easily becomes a “to-do” rather than a spontaneous passion:

I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game….
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment: it is its appointed consummation.

Reflections on the Psalms 94-5

The book however became a bumpier ride once it began entering chapters such as “Mission” and “Suffering”. Given all that Piper has written about the heart and emotion, it seemed a bit strange to be pursuing this desire of God with pages of intellectual arguments and proofs. When he started adding graphs (in “Mission”) I started skimming. I think the book would have been more powerful with half the length. It didn’t need to be so long if Love is how he defines it:

Love is the overflow of joy in God that meets the needs of others. The overflow is experienced consciously as the pursuit of our joy in the joy of another. We double our delight in God as we expland it in the lives of others. p141

The picture that comes to mind is a fire hydrant opened on a city street on a hot summer day, with children splashing in the abundant spray. So Love is. If Love is overflowing from us, then “Missions” “Marriage” “Money”, even our “Suffering” will flow simply and abundantly with that Love.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Lucy // Nov 4, 2003 at 12:59 pm

    i enjoyed hearing your thoughts, thanks for sharing.

    “…..These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idol….”

    Yeah Lewis makes a great point here, unfortunately this form of idolatory he warned us of is present in epidemic proportions today.

    “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world” – C S LEWIS