When the grandkids whine...I mean mention...within my son-in-law's hearing, about wanting something, whether another cookie or a new xbox game, he generally answers one of two ways: “I want to win the lottery” or “I want a million dollars.” In Randy-speak, this translates to: Everyone wants something. Get over it. Be thankful for what you have. Stop whining.
Want. Need. Sometimes these things are different, sometimes they are the same. As physical beings, we have basic needs: food, air, shelter. We aren't just bodies or mammals, however. We are made in God's image, tripartite body, soul, and spirit. Our souls and spirits may be starving, even as they are housed within a healthy shell. Christians often fall into the trap of only taking care of the spiritual, while neglecting the physical, or the spiritual vs. the soul, but all three are from God and therefore all three deserve attention.
Our spiritual need is obvious. We need God. We need him to increase in our lives, while we decrease. God must have preeminence or he ceases to be, for us anyway, truly God. If we have established God is God and we are not, he will be committed to the remainder of our spiritual development. We don't really have to worry about that! His lessons will come, sometimes painfully, in order to complete our faith.
Soul-wise, though, what do you really want? Psalm 37:4 instructs us to “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This says to me that God is interested in what we want, so we should be too.
Let's be brutally honest for a minute about what we want. Is it fame? Fortune? Better friends? Any friends? Do we want a degree, some letters after our name, a title in front of it?
Proverbs 19:22 can be translated this way: What a man desires is unfailing love. I'm with Solomon on this one. Keep the cash. Forgo the fame. I want to drink love from a bottomless well, to slurp it up and have it run down by cheeks and stain my clothes. I want to jump into love, and I want to be that bottomless well for someone else.
I want to be loved – and not just to know that I am, to feel it. People feel loved in different ways; I'm well aware of what it takes to feel loved by another person. Someone once told me that it is a deep need within each heart to be pursued and desired by the object of one's pursuit and desire, and I agree. I want that in my life, and I want my children and grandchildren (eventually) to experience it in theirs.
Love and being in love are not necessarily the same things, and no, St. Paul and others didn't write a lot about that kind of love in the Bible, but that doesn't mean that it isn't legitimate. Being in love with someone who is in love with you is a gift, and it is what I want...not only for myself, but for everyone I cherish. It's one of the coolest things in the world to see my daughter and her husband interract playfully, easily, having fun, being best friends as well as committed marriage partners, knowing that their example will set a high standard for their son in terms of relationships.
God is love, John wrote in his first letter. Grammatically, this would mean that love is God – not accurate, however. But if God is all about love, then all of the loves he has provided for us have their places. The Greeks had separate words for them: eros, philia, agape, storge. Passion, friendship, unconditional, familial. English fails us in this regard - we love pizza, children, dogs, and our spouses with the same four letters.
If I had to choose only one kind of love....but I don't. I don't have to give up a girlfriend's deep affection for that of my soulmate. I don't have substitute the joy of holding a grandchild for devotion to God, or vice versa. The fact that all four kinds of love exist in a world God created for our enjoyment tells me that he has a plan for each.
Where love is concerned, I want it all. And I don't think that's asking too much.