What is my heart’s true desire? This question is central to the Gospel and indeed to life itself. What is it that I search for? What will “make me happy”?
The Book of Wisdom author and the psalmist propose that wisdom is the ultimate object worthy of pursuit. They agree that nothing compares to her, she prospers the work of our hands, and not only is she more desirable than riches but she will in turn yield countless riches. Jesus, the incarnation of God’s wisdom, concurs when he says that we must be willing to leave behind possessions, money, and even family in order to follow him, and he promises that anyone who does so will receive even more in return.
The paradox doesn’t sit easily. I find a lot of security in a paid-off home and car, a good job, and a loving family. It would indeed be harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for me to give up everything I own and everyone I love.
And yet…I do want to follow Christ and be a transparent instrument of God. I actively work to deepen my spirituality, prayer practices, and knowledge of scripture. I give of myself to help people heal. These pursuits bring me deep satisfaction and abiding joy.
Life doesn’t always do the same. Life is messy. Things happen, sometimes suddenly, unexpectedly, and tragically. Truly all that I have and every person I love could disappear tomorrow. I don’t want that. Still, I am aware that the times when I grow the most in wisdom, faith, and compassion are the times when I feel like everything is being stripped away from me. When I am left without my usual resources, when my strength evaporates and my heart is shattered, I rely on God. The rock and foundation I stand on will not give way beneath me, no matter the external circumstances.
Perhaps that is why Jesus always promises us persecutions and difficulties along with riches. Not only are difficulties, stress, and heartache a normal part of life, they are the path to a better and more authentic life through faith. So, scripture and Jesus are spot on. I love and appreciate the things of this world and the people I hold. Yet my heart’s true desire is to know, love, and follow Christ, not just when life is good but when I am nailed to the cross, abandoned, or in the tomb of despair.
Now, can I remember that, even when things are going well and I am tempted to place my security in the people and things I love? Wish me luck! I’ll try.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.