Two guys often meet to talk baseball cards in a café where I sometimes read. Baseball cards must mean a lot to these guys, because they’ll talk about them for an hour at a time, a couple times a week. I’ve overheard them quote prices from $2 to $270 for a card. One guy is obviously wealthy, while the other is clearly not--but they share a passion for those cards.
This reminds me of something Marjorie Boulton said in one of her books: “Any great love is manifested largely by attention.” If you love something (or someone), you notice them, focus on them, even ‘obsess’ about them. This is why the most dangerous drivers on Colorado roads are probably fly fishermen driving highway 50 along the winding Arkansas River. So distracted are they by the possibility of catching trout that they cannot focus on driving safely.
But let’s turn from how much we love something to what it is we love. Henry Scougal said, “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.” How do you know the quality of a person? By what they love, by what grabs their attention.
So, if Scougal is right, how can we have the most ‘excellent soul’—what should be the ‘object of our love’ if we want to be good persons?
We all go through phases in which trivial things seem important. People—even ‘grown ups’—can be crazy about collecting things, about football scores, ‘celebrities,’ the coolest brand of shoes… but these are hopefully just passing phases, and we grow up to realize how little these things actually matter.
How do we determine the difference between trivial and profound? How do we know what is most important? Ask Jesus.
He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mk. 12:30). Another way of saying ‘with all your mind’ might be ‘with all your attention.’ There is likely no clearer statement of godly priorities: love God, and love nothing more than you love God. (Ex. 20:3).
If you aren’t thrilled by the prospect of knowing God (Jer. 9:23-4), of seeing Jesus face to Face (Ps. 27:4), you are not alone. The first step toward truly delighting in Him is to acknowledge your lack of desire. In his passionate book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer prayed, “I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory…”
If we cannot find in our soul any deep longing for God, then we can plead with Him for it. He may not give that desire to us immediately, but be assured that He will do so; that is one prayer that God will indeed answer. When He (and not His benefits) becomes the focus of our desires, and when He is Himself the answer to our most ardent prayers, then the joy He gives to us will be the result of His own divine presence. Only He can satisfy our deepest longings, and He will surely do much, much more than that! “Oh, taste and see that that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8).