A New Year’s Quest: To Want What God Wants

A Distorted View of God
We generally don’t picture God as excitingly alive and pulsating with vibrant desires. If you were painting a picture of God would you choose lackluster tones – lifeless grays, sterile whites, and muted proper browns? Or would you pick dancing yellows, startling greens, rich purples, and the splendor of scarlet? Probably the former. A lot of people wrongly think that God is bland.

Our distorted view of God causes us to doubt the goodness of what God wants. Our reaction to the words “What God wants is good for you.” resembles our reaction to the words “Turnips are good for you.” We might agree in an abstract sort of way that wanting what God wants is a great theological concept, but in “real life” it doesn’t sound very appealing. Who wants a life that sounds boring? Not me. That’s not what I want. Not at all. I want a sense of aliveness, satisfaction, richness, joy, and verve.

A Distorted View of Obedience
We yield to God’s will so sparingly and with such caution because we think doing what God wants will make our lives, to say the least, dull. Holiness sounds so sterile. Obedience sounds more like a chore than a choice that we’ll find truly appealing.

But what if obeying God’s will is exactly what we need? What if doing what God wants connects us with the rich sense of aliveness for which we long? Paul sees it that way. Look at his words:

Romans 12:2b …the will of God … is good and well-pleasing and complete. [my translation].

Read Paul’s words carefully. He’s telling us that God’s will – what God wants – is good, not blandly good, but deeply, satisfyingly good. He’s assuring us that we’ll find what God wants to be most pleasurable. He’s letting us know that God desires us to have complete, fulfilling experiences that feed our souls. Why that’s exactly what I want!

Our Unexpected Resemblance to God
We all share with God a longing for good things, for pleasures that deeply satisfy, for complete experiences. What we want – in our heart of hearts – is exactly what God wants. When we say “Thy will be done,” we’re agreeing with His path to fulfillment.

It shouldn’t surprise us that our deepest desires match God’s deepest desires, because God has built into us desires that match His own. He, and we, both love rich pleasure. Our hunger for delight and fulfillment comes directly from Him.

The best New Year’s quest is to want what God wants and depend on Him to make it happen.

Fulfilling our Desires Poorly
Recognizing that we and God want us to experience what is good and well-pleasing and complete is one thing. Deciding how to make that happen is something else. You and I repeatedly make at least two errors in our quest for life.

  • First, we think we can figure out on our own exactly what will best fulfill the desires God has built into us.
    We’re not very good at it. We make a lot of bad choices. Our substitute “satisfactions,” whether substances or behaviors (think of them as addictions), always eventually disappoint.
  • Second, we think we have the power within ourselves to achieve what will fully satisfy us.
    We don’t. God alone has the power to gift us with fulfillment that won’t fade away or fall short.

Fulfilling our Desires Well
Yielding to what God wants brings us fulfillment that outlasts and exceeds the fleeting fulfillment we arrange for ourselves. So I’ve given up making New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I’m embarking on a quest – I’m praying this New Year’s prayer:

Lord, Open my heart to trust the goodness and availability of what you want. Increase my willingness to say to you with joyful abandon, “Thy Will be Done.”


A New Year’s Quest: To Want What God Wants
© Lynne Fox, 2017


4 thoughts on “A New Year’s Quest: To Want What God Wants

    • January 2, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      I’m so glad the post blessed you. As you might guess, I also learned a lot from thinking through what I wrote.

  • January 3, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    This was an interesting article. Surely God did design pleasures for us to enjoy. Sexual pleasure in the confines of marriage was certainly God’s idea. He created visual pleasures when he created the beauty of mountains, and streams and sunsets. Bite into a perfect mango or a nicely cook steak (my preferences) and you discover he created pleasures for our taste buds. But when we pray to desire what God desires and to want what He wants, there will also be a cost. God wanted Jesus to go to the cross and Jesus agreed to go. Jesus endured unspeakable pain and sorrow and humiliation. A true hedonist (or pleasure seeker), as I understand it, would never seek that. And yet even in my own personal experience God has asked me countless times to give up comfort or even pleasure to help someone who is suffering. But I am grateful that God’s word says in Psalm 16 that at “God’s right hand there are pleasures forever.” I think we get tastes of that now and get to enjoy the full benefits throughout eternity.

    • January 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      I appreciate your insightful comments, Karen. I’d thought of the costs of “wanting what God wants,” and you’re right – earthly-type hedonism doesn’t include costly obedience. Yet Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. Stephen, facing stoning, saw the glory of God. And Jesus, after the cross, sat down at the right hand of God – the place of obedience where there are pleasures forever. Heavenly pleasure isn’t seeking pain to get pleasure (that’s masochism) but heavenly pleasure sometimes seems to accompany earthly pain. This is so hard to say clearly! (I wondered if I should have attempted it.) Thanks for responding.


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