This past week at Vermont Hills, we started into a new series about Practicing Faith.

The first week’s topic is “Times of Yearning” and I took the opportunity to have some fun talking about different ways of talking about desire.

Here are 4 ways that I have heard desire talked about:

  • God Shaped Vacuum

You may be familiar with the famous quote by Pascal:

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.”

  • Competing Desires

In evolutionary terms, and for those of us influenced by Darwinian thought, we may talk about ‘competing desires’ and the different urges, motives, goals, and weaknesses that compete within us and within our societies.

In the end, however, we usually end up sounding a lot like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-20 (NIV)

“15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

  • Eternity In Their Hearts

In missionary circles there is a popular idea that comes from Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says God has put eternity in the human heart. It is a beautiful and poetic way of talking about our desire for the transcendent, divine, eternal, beyond.

Every human civilization that has ever existed has some concept or narrative about this deep longing.

  • God will give you the desires of your heart

Another popular way of talking about this concept comes from Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

People love to quote this passage as some sort of a promise that they will get what they want … and it has been misused badly in a consumer society like ours.

It is helpful, however, to realize that in the original language there is a much better way to interpret that passage:

Delight yourself in the Lord and God will give unto your heart its desires.

Another more pointed way says, “God will give desires unto your heart”. This is helpful because if we follow God, God will help our heart by authoring our desires.


I would love to hear from you about other ways to talk about this that you have found helpful or unhelpful.

Listen to the audio of this sermon below OR from VHUMC [link to the podcast here] and read chapter 1 of Practicing Our Faith.

Feel free to comment, question, or offer suggestions.