The Desire for God is an Appetite: Harnessing the Evil Inclination

The desire for God is an appetite. That sentence looks far less revelatory on the page than how I’m experiencing that simple idea. I was driving home recently in the midafternoon aware that I was kind of hungry, but only a little bit, even though I hadn’t eaten yet. When I don’t eat much, I don’ t have much of a desire for food. When I eat too much, that’s when I want more of it. Thinking about that as I drove, I switched mental channels and thought the desire for God is like that: If I am away from him, I don’t feel a strong desire for him. But when I am fully present with him, I want more of him.

That’s great news for this reason: if I want more of God, I can increase my desire for him just like I would for anything else. For example, if I were interested in cultivating a desire for ice cream every day, I would start to eat just a little bit of ice cream every single day. (I don’t want that, but you get the idea.) If I want to cultivate my desire for God, I just need to taste a little bit more of him every day.

Creating an Appetite

In 5777, as part of a healing I didn’t yet know I needed, I spent a lot of time listening to worship music and singing. I found out later that bilateral music and singing transforms how the brain processes traumatic experiences–while you’re not even thinking about them or, as in my case, not even cognizant that they exist.

Those moments of singing were life to my bones, resurrection life having its way with my body. I never had it tested, but I suspect my serotonin levels were way high. He was transforming me with his fierce love. I was almost always giggling, and I had peace overflowing. I would sneak in a song if I had three minutes between conferences or classes. Like a young lover, I wanted to take advantage of every unoccupied second to fall into him.

Then, after a series of events that threw me off schedule, I kind of just… stopped. I wondered whether I wasn’t doing more harm than good by essentially cultivating self-indulgence. I’d taken an appetite of my flesh and substituted God as the consumable for my over-indulgent tendencies.

An Appetite on the Prowl

So instead of singing along to worship music, I spent a week of morning hours shopping for warm winter clothing, consumption turned toward the material world.

Then another week. Rationalization: The self-indulgent are dead while they’re alive; I didn’t want to be dead while I thought I was spending time with the Lord. I had to move on from that place.

It may not be hard to imagine that after two weeks, I’d effectively enslaved myself to covetousness, which is idolatry, wasting time online window-shopping. That was not an improvement in my condition physically or spiritually, and sin in one area was quick to spread through other areas of my life.

Harnessing the Evil Inclination

erin-dolson-547848-unsplashJudaism teaches the evil inclination is present all the time, but we are free to use it to serve evil purposes or serve good purposes. Ignore it, and it is an undiscerning, self-hating slave looking for the chance to be the cruelest master. Recognize it and rule over it–give it tasks to do each day–and it will behave. It certainly does crouch at the door, but we can subdue it instead of letting it subdue us. I wonder if it’s safe to say it’s a kind of engine that revs up behind each choice we make. It doesn’t choose the path for us, but it will accelerate our journey.

The conclusion of the matter is this: I was formed in iniquity; it’s deeply in my nature to stray from God through craving, craving, craving, the very thing that the apostle Peter says is corrupting the whole cosmos; but there is a safe place to invest the deepest attachment needs I have, and that’s in union with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I crave, so let me cultivate a craving for God, for godliness.

When we’re not thirsty, we can take a tiny sip anyway, and that sip will increase our thirst for him. When we’re not hungry, we can taste the smallest crumb, and that crumb will seed an overwhelming hunger for him.

The desire for God is an appetite. There’s no end to satisfaction in Him, and being satisfied in Him dilutes the appeal of substitutes. He is the great love of my life, and He deserves my greatest desires turned to Him and submitted to Him. If we are fully, voluntarily enslaved to Christ, that part of us that craves is occupied with him and we become radically free indeed.

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5 thoughts on “The Desire for God is an Appetite: Harnessing the Evil Inclination

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  1. What has Christ suddenly to do with this article about God!? Reading some other articles I start getting the impression you seem to be mixing Jesus with God at certain moments.

    1. Hi, Marcus, you are right: I do mix Jesus with God the Father in my mind, and I’m not sure how to separate them appropriately or where I’m getting confused between father and son; I have talked about this issue explicitly to friends. It bums me out because the early Christian community seems, from the apostolic writings, to be able to clearly differentiate who is who when they are hearing from Heaven. Examples abound of the Holy Spirit making such-and-such known to Paul or others. But in Paul’s situation, “Who are you, Lord?” and “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” it seems like that was, well, Jesus, whom he was persecuting. But if I hear something–and I don’t often hear words out of the blue but sometimes I do–I am not sure how to tell who it is. Or if some divine thing goes on, like a healing–who is that? It seems appropriate to thank both God and Christ. The safe answer seems to be the Holy Spirit, kind of covering the bases because that’s the same spirit that was on Christ, anyway, but help! Maybe this will come with maturity. It is on my radar as an ongoing question in my life, so suggest away if you know of reading material that will help me (beyond the Bible, which I am reading, but without more perspectives, my mind fills in what it thinks it understands but doesn’t).

      On the first part, the surprise you felt at Christ coming in kind of out of the blue in the article, yes, I see what you mean when I try to read it with strict definitions in place. Things are pretty nebulous as written. I meld them so much that my first reaction was surprise when I read that you were surprised. 🙂

      About the pictures–thanks! I’ve been exploring and enjoying Unsplash for their collection of photographs. They have work from all over the world; I sometimes just browse the website to be amazed.

      Thank you for taking the time to make the comments!
      All the best,

      1. Dear Heather, perhaps certain things may look very confusing because you use Bibles which have placed everywhere Lord instead of having the Name of God where there was written the Name of God or where was specified which Lord was spoken about.

        Paul was persecuting Jeshua and his followers, but that does not mean he was persecuting God, though he might have been a satan, like Peter was a satan or adversary of God.

        Jeshua (Jesus) and his apostles healed people, like we can find also other people healing others and some prophets also having brought people back to life. But it were not them personally who brought somebody back to good health or even back to live. Jesus clearly says he can not do anything without his heavenly Father, who he praises as the only One True God. Jesus also wanted that the people did not praise him but gave praise to God. It is always God who gives and takes life.

        The best way to come to see clear in the scriptures is to ignore all the false human teachings and just to read what is really written in the Scriptures. For examples that when there is written “son of Gdo” that you do not think or say “god the son” but that you clearly think about a son of God, and in most instances when you see that written and there is spoken about the Nazarene sent one from God that you also think about that son of man who is authorised by god to speak in God’s Name.

        Also when there is spoken about God that you do not use the name of His son but think of the Only Holy One with the Most Holy Name, the Hashem Jehovah God, the God above all gods.

        When taking the words like they are written black on white, after some time you shall come to see how everything shall come clear and how everything fit so well together. Than you shall be able to see that the Scriptures never contradict itself. Often adversaries of the Christian faith say the bible contradicts itself because they compare the sayings in Scripture with the false teachings of the trinitarian Christians, and than you can find saying that the Bible say “no man can see God and live” and that they rightly prompt that Jesus was seen by many who did not fall death. But when you know that Jesus is not God, you know that the Bible is not contradicted about that fact that Jesus was seen by many. Also concerning his temptation, God cannot be tempted the Bible says but Jesus was more than once. Jesus being a man of flesh and blood (no Spirit, whilst God is Spirit) had to endure many temptations and bullying from man and was even being killed by man (remember the Bible tells us that “no man can do anything to God°.

        Please do take time to study the bible and to come to Biblical Truth. It might not be an easy voyage and certainly not one without people going against your ideas, willing to keep you in the rails of trinitarism. But always remember that Jesus preferred not to do his own will (what he would have done in case he would have been God) but to do God’s Will and also requires from his followers to go in his footsteps, accepting that he (Jesus) is the way to God and that we should be not of this world but of the world of God. That is where we have to strive for.

        Wishing you lots of interesting discoveries and growing insight in the Word of God.

        that god may bless you and guide you on the path of Biblical Truth and Salvation.

        1. Thank you for the thoughtful and kind response, Marcus. There are a lot of points I will be thinking about as I continue my journey, and I have a slow processing time as I like to consider and study and reconsider and study again. 🙂 In the Gospels, I have noticed that consistent deflecting of glory and thanks to the Father in instances of divine healing that you mention, and Jesus told us we don’t have to ask him for things because the Father himself loves us. Appreciate your thoughts! Blessings to you, too! -HB

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