Sidhara Udalagama

Driven by Desire

Have you ever known the feeling of depreciating desire?
I remember it like it was yesterday–– the day my husband and I were married. In that first wonderful year of marriage, we were told on more than one occasion to,“enjoy this honeymoon phase while it lasts”. Now, if you knew anything about my husband, you would know that he refused to accept that this ‘honeymoon phase’ was going to be the single best time of our marriage. He made it his mission to make sure the ‘honeymoon phase’ was not, in fact, just a phase but that it was the lasting nature of our married lives.

After seven (perhaps, not so long!) years, I can truly say we are more in love and our marriage is marked by more selflessness, joy and kindness than when we were first married. However, I am also aware that this didn’t just happen with the passing of time. We have been intentional in nurturing, valuing and protecting our marriage over the years. It’s taken sacrifice, humility, commitment and desire.

Have you ever known the feeling of depreciating desire?

Perhaps there was something new in your life that you desired, loved and cherished, but as the novelty wore off, that initial hunger and desire wore off alongside. It happens all the time: in marriages, relationships, jobs etc. And it can also happen in our relationship with Jesus. With the passing of time, isn’t it easy to dull that first love, passion and desire for Jesus that we first had?

Depreciating desire.

In one sense, perhaps, this is normal. Or, is it? Do passions have to depreciate with time?

Does our ‘honeymoon phase’ with Jesus have to fade as the years go on?

In Philippians 3:7-12, Paul writes these words:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Paul, the great apostle, spent his life in service to God and the gospel. He planted churches all across the provinces of Asia Minor and Europe, he saw miracles, signs and wonders and penned most of the New Testament we read today.  In the book of Philippians, he finds himself in prison for advancing the gospel. After all that Paul had seen, all that he had gained and lost, coming towards the end of his life, through his words we find one thing that has remained constant: his desperate desire for Jesus. His first love and primary passion.

What is it about Paul’s desire for Jesus that seems to last the test of time?

As I read Paul’s words and sit with them in my heart, his desire for Jesus seems to driven by:

1. Treasure

In verse 7, Paul exclaims that whatever were gains to him, he now considers a loss for the sake of Christ. Paul gives us a list of all his gains in the preceding verses (Philippians 3: 3-4).

His elite background, spiritual achievements, moral works and perfect pedigree, Paul counts as nothing compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. In fact, he considers them garbage, trash or rubbish compared to intimacy with Jesus. English minister, Ed Wright says it best, when he says that for Paul,

“Jesus is the treasure that turns all other treasures to trash.”

This is what drives Paul’s desire. His heart has found the greatest treasure in Jesus. Our greatest treasure, the pearl of great price, the most worthwhile of all pursuits is Jesus. We pursue what we treasure and when we learn to treasure Jesus above all else, it drives our desire for Him. A desire that stands the test of time.

2. Surrender

Paul doesn’t just want to know Christ, he also wants to identify with Him. In verse 11, Paul says he wants to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and to participate in His sufferings. While I resonate with wanting to experience the resurrection power of Jesus available to us right now, I have trouble reconciling the desire to participate in His sufferings. Is that just me?

However, Paul understood the way of the cross that Jesus walked on the earth would also be a part of our lives in some way. We live in a fallen world and are not exempt from pain, heartache and suffering. But Paul had a key that changed His perspective.

Paul reframed suffering as a way to deepen his desire for Jesus.

Paul doesn’t put any limitations on how He would experience Christ. Paul didn’t limit himself to knowing Christ only in blessing, wealth or comfort, but had surrendered to know Christ, to seek Him, even in pain, lack and suffering.

I am encouraged that we can desire Jesus in the same way. What if we allowed challenge, suffering and loss to drive us deeper into our desire for Jesus? A desire driven by surrender, that stands in the face of whatever may come, committed to seeking and desiring Him still.

3. Hunger

Paul had encountered the power of God and even after knowing Christ the way he already did, He still wants more. In verse 12, Paul in humility recognises that he hasn’t arrived and his desire is to keep pursuing Christ, pressing on to take hold of Him in the way Christ had taken hold of him. Even after all these years, Paul is still spiritually hungry.

Bill Johnson says, “in the natural you get hungry by not eating. In the spiritual you get hungry by eating.”

Hunger begets hunger. In the natural, when we’re hungry and feed our hunger, we are satiated and full. In the spiritual, when we’re hungry and we feed our hunger, we get yet more hungry!

This is how Paul fuelled a desire for Jesus that didn’t fade, dull or diminish. He stayed hungry by eating. Walking in intimacy and feeding on the Bread of Life Himself, Jesus Christ.

This kind of hunger is powerful: the more we desire Christ, the more we find Him, and the more like Him we become. We are invited into a life of pursuit driven by our hunger for Jesus. It’s a life of unquenchable desire.

My prayer for us today is that we would live our lives fully immersed in our desire for Jesus. That this desire would shape, mould and guide every part of who we are and what we do. After all, as followers of Jesus, is there a greater pursuit? He truly is the treasure that turns all other treasure to trash.

Like Paul, may we say in the face of all that comes our way that we still want more of Jesus. May our “honeymoon phase” with Christ be a lifelong journey of going deeper, and deeper still.

May our desire of Him fuel our love for Him in every season.

This is the life I want to live. A life driven by desire. How about you?

Sidhara Udalagama

Sidhara Udalagama

Sidhara is married to her husband Dev and enjoys being a foodie, travelling the world and repeating those two things… preferably together!

Sidhara grew up in Sri Lanka but spent her adult years in England working in full time ministry after graduating with an MSc in Organisational Psychology. She currently works for a global not-for-profit organisation as a Communications Specialist and as a speaker for events in the corporate and faith sectors.

Alongside working in ministry, Sidhara has worked with corporate and not-for-profit organisations as a communicator and leadership development coach, where she has been involved in staff training as well as generating training content based on developing organisational health and well being. She is a prolific communicator of the Bible with a passion to see people fulfil their potential in this world and become all that they were created to be.