What is Your Deepest Desire for 2021?

To answer the question, we will need to explore below the waterline.

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One Wish

If I had a magic lamp with a Genie who could grant one wish, what would your one wish be? No, you can’t ask for extra wishes. You get one and only one. 

In Matthew 20:29-34, two blind men sitting by a road just outside the city of Jericho get this very opportunity. Only, it is not a Genie. It’s Jesus. Addressing him with the Messianic title, “Son of David,” they know he is able to fulfill their deepest desire. 

The question Jesus asked them then is the same question he is asking us today. “What do you want me to do for you?” But let’s not be too quick to answer. Before we start asking for new cars and better jobs, it will be of greatest benefit if we take our time not to name just a desire but to discover our deepest desire—the desire that rules all others. 

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Why did Jesus even have to ask the question? They were blind. Wasn’t their need obvious enough? From one perspective, yes. From another, not so much. 


Humans are Like Icebergs

You see, humans are like icebergs. There is the part of our lives that is seen above the waterline. But, like an iceberg, most of who we are is hidden below the waterline. 

If our actions and emotions are displayed on the surface, it is our unseen desires underneath that influence everything that takes place above. What I want us to do in this post is for us to explore the unseen, under the waterline part of the iceberg. This may be new territory for some of us, and that is okay. In fact, it is an amazing opportunity for God’s grace to impact you at a deeper level than ever before.

By the way, if I were in the shoes of the two blind men, I would have asked Jesus to do the same thing. It certainly is not wrong to desire healing, a restored marriage, or the return of a prodigal. Parents want their children to be safe, healthy, and happy. We want to enjoy our work and be financially secure in retirement. 

These are all legitimate, reasonable desires. So was the request for Jesus to heal their eyes. This was a real need. It just wasn’t their most critical need. It was an “above the waterline” need.

I think this is why, in the face of the seemingly obvious, Jesus asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” He was giving them an opportunity to go deeper. God was in their midst, just a few feet away, and this was their shot to ask him for anything. What would it be? 

Jesus is asking you the same thing. What is your one wish? What do you most deeply desire Jesus to do for you?  Again, let’s not answer too quickly. Since we are much more in touch with the surface of our lives than under the waterline issues, it may take some time for us to form an answer that will address our deeper issues.  


Exploring Beneath the Waterline

But how do we do it? What does the process look like for going under the waterline beyond the surface desire to the deep desires that shape our lives? Where should we begin? One thing is to recognize how need and desire are connected. I don’t think about food (the felt desire) unless I am hungry (the felt need). I don’t feel like going to the doctor (the felt desire) unless I’m sick (the felt need).  I don’t want to go to bed (the felt desire) unless I’m tired (the felt need). It is a basic, easy to understand relationship. Lack (a need) creates desire (what I want). 

I suggest that going under the surface to discover the deeper needs of the soul is a journey that begins with understanding the role of emotion. Emotion functions like the warning lights on a car’s dashboard. When various lights glow, they tell you something about what is going on under the hood where the engine is. The oil is low. The O2 sensor needs to be replaced. The engine needs to be checked. It is the same way with the human heart. Emotion helps us understand what is taking place under the hood (or under the waterline). Feelings are not intended to drive us as much as reveal what is driving us. 

Therefore, I need to learn how to ask myself, “What am I feeling right now,” because there is a desire (whether fulfilled or unfulfilled) hiding underneath that emotion. Joy is often linked to a fulfilled desire. Anger may reveal unfulfilled desire. If you have trouble identifying what you are feeling, going online to download an emotion wheel might help. This site has emotional wheels for both positive and negative feelings. Remember, emotions are not good or bad as much as they are indicators of what is going on under the waterline.

A recurring emotion I have sensed in my life is the feeling of insecurity. Not financial insecurity but ontological insecurity—the insecurity of being. Am I important? Am I valued? Am I loved? Those are the kinds of questions my soul continues to ask.

When I sense an emotion, the next step is to identify the desire that is hiding underneath it. For example, the desire under insecurity is the longing to be accepted and loved just as I am, in my broken, unfixed, messy condition. To be told, you are special and treasured, apart from performing, earning, and sustaining. 

While exploring the causes of my battles with insecurity, I discovered a wound. Living in a fallen, sinful world, we all have wounds. The shrapnel of sin has cut through each human with devastating consequences. We have not only been affected by our sin but by the sins of others. For me, the experience of rejection stands out as an early wound that penetrated my soul in ways I could not comprehend at the time.

Rather than take my wound to Jesus for healing, I may attempt to heal myself. This is where I am susceptible to believing lies and having my desires distorted by the deception of the world, my flesh, or the devil. One big lie is that the solution to the fear of rejection and abandonment is building emotional walls to protect yourself from anyone getting too close. The lie tells me not to let anyone see below the waterline of my heart, because if they do, they will reject me. But what I’ve learned is that walls and facades that we project in order to protect, do not protect the heart, they imprison the heart.


The Wonder of the Gospel

The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus came to set us free from having to protect ourselves. His blood flows all the way down to the deepest depths of our desire to be fully known and fully loved without the fear of rejection. The grace of God says, “I see everything under the surface and I love you completely without question or hesitation.” In the gospel, we have someone who says, “I have seen it all. And you are forgiven. You are better than just accepted. You are valued, loved, and treasured. I will hold you and never let you go.” This is the depth to which the blood of Jesus flows. 

Because just like our lives are icebergs, so is the gospel. 

This is what Jesus would show the blind men. Remember, after they received their sight, they followed Jesus into the next chapter for the Savior’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Why was Jesus going there? Well, he was Jewish and it was the Passover, the feast where the Jews celebrated their ancestor’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. But this feast would be different from others Jesus had attended. He wasn’t going to partake of the Passover lamb. He was going to be the Passover lamb.

Healing eyesight was easy. Reconciling sinners to the Father was going to require sacrifice. As the Passover lamb of God, Jesus' blood was shed, not to be spread upon doorposts (as in the Jewish Exodus) but spread on souls of sinners to avert judgment from the sinner to the substitutionary, sacrificial Lamb. Like the original Passover, we are spared because the lamb is judged. But forgiveness of sin by the blood of the Lamb is just the surface blessing. It is a glorious grace to be forgiven! But forgiveness is just the gate into the kingdom. It is the door into the mansion, where there is a banquet of mercies, kindness, and steadfast love to explore and experience. Yes, the gospel is like an iceberg, with deeper, immeasurable grace under the waterline of forgiveness. 

I have found that an awareness of deep emotional insecurity has been the key to understanding my deepest desire. Remarkably, my personal wound and the emotions connected to it are being used by God as a means by which grace is flowing into my life and healing me way, way under the waterline.


What I Want

And that is what I want. Deep healing of my soul. Not just a religious band-aid. I no longer desire emotional relief. I want spiritual renewal. 

What I most deeply desire for 2021 is to come alive to the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love for me in Christ. I want to be the object of someone’s affection who puts no conditions on the intensity and commitment of their love. I want to be forgiven and accepted without the fear of rejection or betrayal—even though I’m going to keep blowing it. 

I want to wake in the morning with the restored eyesight of the blind men—eyes that see the welcoming smile of God and ears to hear him say, “Good morning, McKay! I’ve been up all night waiting for you. Do you know how much I love you? Do you know how proud of you I am?  I am so glad you are my son.”

In that moment, insecurity is crushed and replaced with joy, and a strange, new humble confidence to enter the day with a name that I do not have to earn or sustain—the name of the Father’s beloved.

When this deep desire is met below the waterline, every other desire is affected. Rather than believe the lies of the flesh, I am more willing than ever to follow the ways of Jesus. And my desires for my children change, too. Rather than wanting them to be just healthy and happy, I long for them to know the height, depth, width, and breadth of God’s love for them in Jesus, too. 

I suppose with this gospel confidence in my ontological security, I’ll be more secure about letting folks see below the waterline of my life as well. I’ll be more willing to forgive as I have been forgiven, and accept as I’ve been accepted, and treasure as I’ve been treasured. For, if Jesus can forgive, accept, and treasure me, he can forgive, accept, and treasure you, too. 

And isn’t that what you really want?


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