The 3rd chapter of Surfing for God is relatively short but packed full of valuable understanding of how our desires go askew. Titled, Insatiable Thirst it begins with a quote from Frederick Buechner, "Lust is the craving for salt of a man who is dying of thirst."
Michael defines aposia, 'the absence of sensation of thirst.' If you don't know you have it you can die because you may not take in fluids. He sees something similar with spiritual and relational thirsts. The consequences can be devastating too. He says, "Our souls' thirst is the core desire from which everything else in the Christian life flows. Desire and thirst are central to Christianity."
This is why God generally doesn't answer our prayers to 'just take away' our struggles. To just take away our struggle would be to take away our ability to care and love and impact our world. Our thirst and desire isn't bad, it is just misdirected. As my pilot friends would say good thrust, wrong vector.
Jesus talked a fair amount about thirst as did Isaiah in the Old Testament. Michael says,
Jesus doesn't call us to a self-improvement plan. Instead, He appeals to our deep thirsts and desires, even if we don't recognize it. Many people who want to follow Christ view Christianity as nothing more than an invitation to live a good moral life and believe in a finite set of certain doctrines. Few of us connect our relationship with Jesus to a life of passionate desire and fullness.
Yet, maturity in the church world is often displayed as not wanting anything or not needing anything. But that's not what Jesus said. I believe what Thomas Aquinas believed, as is quoted in Surfing for God, "that every sinful behavior is rooted in a legitimate God-given appetite."
So what are we thirsty for? What are our deepest longings? Michael provides a list of seven longings and mentions that the list is certainly incomplete.
- Attention--I long for people to like me. I long for your embrace.
- Affection--I long to be enjoyed. I long to be delighted in. I long for you to take pleasure in who I am.
- Affirmation--I long to know I have what it takes. I long for your blessing.
- Acceptance--I long to belong. I long to be desired.
- Satisfaction--I long for fullness. I long for well-being.
- Significance--I long for impact. I long for meaning. I long to be powerful.
- Security--I long to know I will be ok.
These longings are at our core, given to us by God. We run into problems in living when we try to cut-off, chop-off, bury and ignore these longings. I see it all the time. In my office it starts with, "I know I shouldn't feel this way..." It's a clue that core longings are being battled and the individual in front me just isn't quite sure what to do with them.
So look at those core longings above. Which ones do you identify with most? Do you see where your porn use (or other place of hiding or relief) could be about fulfilling those longings in an illegitimate way?
Michael says that we tend to hide our desires in one of two ways,
I'm convinced that there are two types of people in the world; people who eat chocolate cake for breakfast and wish they hadn't, and people who shudder at the thought of chocolate cake for breakfast but should probably try it. In other words, there are those of us who demand that our desires are satisfied, and those who disown our desires.
We can use stuff and fantasies to ease the ache in our souls but it only satisfies a bit and leads to more shame. We can pretend we don't really have the deeper longings in our souls but sooner or later those longings will emerge, even if in the form of bitterness.
Michael asks you to take stock of your soul.
Can you identify the dead logs, broken branches, and dried-out parts of your soul? How has your soul experienced drought, root disease, or poor growing conditions? If you don't know the answers to these questions, I can almost guarantee that the fire of legitimate God-given desire will ignite your brokenness and burn outside of the fireplace with a ferocity that seems unstoppable...Coming to terms with our brokenness is a daunting process. But we must understand it in order to experience true freedom.