Monday, December 15, 2008

Desiring God

Desiring God
Meditations of A Christian Hedonist

Other than the Bible, the book that has influenced me the most by far is Desiring God by John Piper. My life is completely, very visibly different after my encounter with that book. It changed me inside, outside, my emotions, my logic, my thoughts, and my actions. I say none of this lightly. The differences before and after are extreme. To paraphrase CS Lewis, the book was good, but not safe.

Before Desiring God I believe I was a Christian, but my life was safe, comfortable, and predictable. I was not very happy, but I thought my safety and comfort would eventually bring happiness. Was I ever wrong!

One day a pastor at my church observed my unhappiness and gave me the book. I read it through once and I got the basic idea, which was to pursue your joy in God. I understood it with my mind, but my heart was disengaged; it was not important to me. A few months later John Piper, the author, spoke at a church event. That is what stopped me still in my tracks and then turned me completely around. Piper preached this sermon: God's Passion for the Supremacy of God (You can click the link to hear a recording of that exact message preached that day, but listen at your own risk.) I cried the entire time. I felt Piper being deeply emotionally affected by the beauty of God Himself. I felt his joy in God. I deeply understood why he had devoted his life to preaching God’s Word. I caught a glimpse of what motivated Christian heroes of the past to die for their faith. I knew I wanted what Piper had!

I immediately dropped everything and went back to reading Desiring God, only this time I was praying that God would cause me to “get it” in my heart, not just my mind. I determined to keep reading and reading until it got through to me. I especially focused on the Scriptures Piper quoted. I started to see that I was always pursuing my own joy in all my decisions but that in God Himself was a joy better than all others. I cried, I prayed, I longed for God, and He met me! I think I reread the chapter on money and the chapter on suffering at least 5 times each. In the end I decided to pursue wholeheartedly my joy in Him and give of my time, energy, money, and love, to the full amount God would enable me.

I started making major life decisions to maximize my joy in God eternally at the expense of earthly security and ease. I gave money. I stopped trying to impress influential people. Instead I sought out needy people, served them and befriended them, pointing them to Jesus, the One greater than all their needs!

I will never be the same; I will never turn back; I don’t want to! There is no one, there is nothing better than God!
By the way, for people who don't have the time to follow all of the theological depth in Desiring God, Piper wrote a very brief summary entitled Dangerous Duty of Delight. That smaller book says everthing Desiring God says, except it leaves out some theological arguments and counter-arguments. The inspirational passion for God is definitely left in!