Desire for Me What I Cannot Desire

If you haven’t read C.S. Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress, I recommend it to you. It’s an allegory in the style of The Pilgrim’s Progress telling the story of a man’s philosophical journey to Christianity.

In one part of the book, Lewis expresses the idea that human passion—even passion for God—is always changing. We will not always desire God in the same way or with the same intensity. In fact, there will be times when we can only persevere and trust that God will again revive us.

When John, the protagonist of the story, becomes concerned about his waning desire, he’s given this song:

‘My heart is empty. All the fountains that should run
     With longing, are in me
Dried up. In all my countryside there is not one
     That drips to find the sea.
I have no care for anything thy love can grant
     Except the moment’s vain
And hardly noticed filling of the moment’s want
     And to be free from pain.
Oh, thou that art unwearying, that dost neither sleep
     Nor slumber, who didst take
All care for Lazarus in the careless tomb, oh keep
     Watch for me till I wake.
If thou think for me what I cannot think, if thou
     Desire for me what I
Cannot desire, my soul’s interior Form, though now
     Deep-buried, will not die,
—No more than the insensible dropp’d seed which grows
     Through winter ripe for birth
Because, while it forgets, the heaven remembering throws
     Sweet influence still on earth,
—Because the heaven, moved moth-like by thy beauty, goes
     Still turning round the earth.

“If thou think for me what I cannot think, if thou desire for me what I cannot desire, my soul’s interior Form, though now deep-buried, will not die.” The nice thing about trusting in a real God is that we don’t have to try to muster up spiritual feelings and desires on our own when our souls feel as if they’re dying. He is real, and He’s strong enough to carry us through weariness, discouragement, and even apathy when we ask for help, even if there are no emotions behind our request.

There truly is a God out there who “gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist” (Rom. 4:17), and He will do this again for your numb soul in His time, after He’s done the work He intends to do in you.

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Amy K. Hall

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