A Sacred Yes: The Desire of the Heart

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

What if this sacred yes you’ve dared to say is forming within you the deepest joy you’ve yearned to feel? What if it matters? What if it is about fullest life? What if it is the meaning you’ve been chasing, the vision you’ve been straining to see? What if you’ve said yes to what is most real, most alive, most true in your own soul?

Slowly, slowly, slowly I am learning that divine vocation is to discover and live the truest version of myself. God calls us all to be who we really are. This can be difficult to understand in a culture saturated with individualism. This is an invitation to the core of the soul, to the substance we seek. When we get to the center of our deepest being we discover the home of the Holy, which has been resident all along.

It is here in this sacred center that we recover the spark for life that can grow dim from all the insecurities and expectations we’ve layered upon it. The Advent journey toward the great light might be an interior one. In darkest times, this flame will not die. The world is aching for more souls to catch fire.

Especially at Christmas, I can quickly spout off a list of surface level wants. The advertisements sneaking their way into every part of life offer suggestions too. More layers on the divine flame within, distractions from the deepest desire seeking to claim me.

When we give ourselves over to the call of the Holy forming unseen within, we can trust that it is what we want, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first. This isn’t divine manipulation. God never calls us to be who we aren’t. What we carry within us is not another obligation waiting to consume more of our energy and time. The call of God is fullest life, always, even in death. It may take time, and courage, to let the layers of shallow desires fall away to discover the One thing for which we truly yearn. “The soul,” writes Mark Thibodeaux, “is the place where God’s desires and my desires intersect.” What is deepest in us is not in conflict with the dream of God for the world.

In moments, the reign of God couldn’t seem further away. It is clear, just from watching the evening news, that there is much to be done. How do you explain that even in the midst of devastation, the deepest call of the Holy in our lives springs forth from what brings us true joy? Frederick Buechner says it well, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

I have a hard time naming this deep desire, this deep gladness. It feels selfish at first, which may be an indication that I haven’t properly named it yet. I have to remind myself that this is more than something I want on a whim. It is the steadying orientation of my heart in God. What I also uncover slowly, slowly, slowly is that the heart of God within me is also the heart of all life. My welfare resides in the welfare of all. This is another sure way to determine the authenticity of the desire you seek. Does it bring you joy? Does it confront what is false in you? Does it lead toward the welfare of all?

This Advent, how does your sacred yes lead to fullest life? How is God inviting you to offer yourself from a place of deep joy rather than obligation?

What is it, really, that you hope for? Repeat this question in your soul more than once.

How does this deepest desire within you make brighter a darkened world?

8 Replies to “A Sacred Yes: The Desire of the Heart”

  1. “God calls us all to be who we really are. This can be difficult to understand in a culture saturated with individualism.”
    I think that discovering your True Self is one of the most individualistic actions one can take. Individualism is not by nature a bad thing.
    This is my first experience with the blog. Very thought-provoking.

    1. Thanks for these thoughts, Glo! That’s the beautiful challenge of life in God. It is work that no one can do for us, but it’s not just about us either. It can be tough to sort all that out in cultures that glorify the self above others. That seems to be the tricky balance- healthy self growth without self obsession.

  2. Good morning – these morning devotions/readings are so beautiful and thoughtful that I am sharing them with some friends who are not in the church.  I have invited them to subscribe for free if they want BUT I wasn’t sure how to have them do that.  Could you just send me whatever you sent originally to get me started.  OR, give me instructions for how to add other people to the subscription list.  And to Katie – not sure if Ken McLaughlin is your father or father-in-law but he was on the OI Malawi trip with my family and we all fell in love with him.  His ability to express the deepest feelings of his own heart in response to my deeply held questions was most amazing.  And, you are able to do so also.  I appreciate your efforts in preparing these materials.Kathy McGuire in Santa Barbara, California

  3. Katie: I’ve been familiar with the Buechner quote for quite a few years (through Grant McMurray during his presidency) but I was helped by your reflection on the statement. Very good! Hope you and Zac are doing well today. Blessings, DRB

    Frederick Buechner says it well, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
    I have a hard time naming this deep desire, this deep gladness. It feels selfish at first, which may be an indication that I haven’t properly named it yet. I have to remind myself that this is more than something I want on a whim. It is the steadying orientation of my heart in God. What I also uncover slowly, slowly, slowly is that the heart of God within me is also the heart of all life. My welfare resides in the welfare of all. This is another sure way to determine the authenticity of the desire you seek. Does it bring you joy? Does it confront what is false in you? Does it lead toward the welfare of all?

  4. Katie and all involved at the Spiritual Formation Center, I can’t thank you enough for this resource. I have not been an Advent person but I’ve been trying the last couple of years. But this week, this week, wow! I am deeply affected by the writing and the Spirit that accompanies it. This year’s Advent journey is going to be very meaningful for me.
    Even with today’s news, I am called to Hope. And to help others experience Hope.
    Thank you!

  5. This past Sunday, as I gave the morning message on Hope, I could not keep from expressing the great, great need to have hope in our life. That we must seek it, that we must let Jesus fill our being with the Christ message of true hope, and I wanted those words to reach the hearts of people listening, almost individually I could feel their need to experience a Christ hope within. Thank you for your messages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s