An Experiment with Desire
by Shirley R. Heater
You are this very moment who you desire to be! This statement made in a preaching service jolted me because of my ongoing experiment with desire.
It focused on an aspect I had not considered. I thought that Sunday morning about Alma's words that God grants to men according to their desires (Alma 15:55) and also the words of Jacob that God delivered to the Jews things they could not understand because they desired it (Jacob 3:22-25). Was I like the Jews, not desiring God's best? I could only answer, yes.
Over the preceding months, my hunger for a deeper relationship with the Lord had grown, and he had shown me that desire was the key.
God Has Desires Too!
My testimony actually begins about three years ago when I was studying Alma 16. One particular verse came alive for me:
God ... desireth in the first place that ye should believe,
yea, even on his word. Alma 16:144
I saw for the first time that God has desires and that our believing his word was "top priority." This became my "top priority" as I read and studied the scriptures.
Then last summer after my initial ferver had faded to routine, my scripture study took on sharp new significance. As I prayed over several concerns, the Lord's answer came to me clearly, "Put me first!" My response was, "Show me how." I was taken back to Alma 16:144 as a beginning point.
I noted that Alma 16:144 serves as an introduction to Alma's parable of the seed. For the first time I saw it as instruction from the Lord on how to move from where I was to where I wanted to be. Verse 151 contained the key:
But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties
even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise
a particle of faith;
Yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe,
Let this desire work in you even until ye believe in a
manner that ye can give place for a portion of my
words. Alma 16:151
Because it says "even if ye can no more than desire to believe," I said to the Lord, "Lord, I desire to believe. I thought I was believing, but if there's something that I'm missing, something I don't understand, tell me what it is."
I also noted that this verse says, "Let this desire work in you." As I pondered on what this meant, I thought of baking bread. When I put yeast in warm water with a little honey to activate the yeast, it expands and grows-it's no longer just a cup of liquid, but will more than double in size. The yeast actually "works" while it is in the water. Then I thought about desire working in me in this way. I responded, "Lord, I want my desire to grow like the yeast." I made the decision, the choice, that I wanted this desire.
The Lord Himself Became the Object of My Desire
As I prayed for desire over a period of several days, I began to recognize that certain things in my daily routine were lessening in importance. On coming home from work, my usual habit had been to sit and relax, maybe turn on the TV. Now when I did this, I began to feel restless. This was not how the Lord wanted me to feed my soul. So I began to rearrange my schedule and to look forward to spending time with the Lord and his word.
What happened next I will compare to the seed in Alma 16:152-153. As I spent more time with the Lord and his word, I became aware that something special was happening. I began to feel a love for the Lord growing within me. I hadn't expected that. However, since one of the meanings of desire is love, I understood for the first time that when we begin to desire and that desire works in us, the result is love-love for the Lord that grows.
My excitement was heightened when I remembered Nephi's vision. Nephi is told by an angel that the love of God, which is the Lamb of God, or the tree of life, is the most desirable above all things (1 Nephi 3:62-64). The Bible concordance led me to two other scriptures. Proverbs 13:12 also links meaningful desire with a tree of life,when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." (I especially like the New American Standard translation which reads, desire fulfilled is a tree of life.") I also found a passage in Haggai 2:7 where the Messiah is called "the Desire of All Nations." When Desire comes, he fulfills us and he brings us life; he is that tree of life. There is the tree of life in Lehi's vision, the tree of life in Nephi's vision and the tree of life in Alma's parable. They are all pointing out the same thing-that it is the Lord himself who is to be the object of our desire, and he is to be our tree of life.
Desire Means to Hunger and Thirst
As I thought about the tree of life, I wondered about the fruit of the tree and if there was some significance relating to desire. Since one of the meanings of desire is "to hunger and thirst," I found it interesting that in Alma's parable feasting upon the fruit of the tree results in no longer being hungry or thirsty (Alma 16:172). This also seemed to relate to Jesus's words recorded in John 6:35:
I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never
hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
I also became curious about the word partake (used with fruit, salvation, goodness, heavenly gift, etc.). I had always applied the common usage "to eat or take." However, I discovered that various Bible dictionaries define partake as "to fellowship with, commune, share together." I marvelled at how this deeper meaning more accurately portrayed my experience of desire.
After considering these and other scriptures, it occurred to me that it was no coincidence that the Lord uses food to illustrate our response to him. The fruit is delicious, sweet, white and pure--a perfect metaphor for the Lord himself. I was astonished when I saw a correlation with one of the most serious problems in this nation, obsession with sugar (evidenced by increasing instances of diabetes, hypoglycemia and tooth decay). Sugar is white, it is sweet, it is refined and it is desirable. I saw obsession with sugar specifically and food in general as a perversion in the natural realm of the truth that is in the spiritual realm. I was convicted as the words of Job, which echo Alma 16:144, rang in my mind:
I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than
my necessary food. Job 23:12
Desire Comes From God and He Also fulfills It
As I read these scriptures and pondered on what I was experiencing, I remembered a familiar verse:
Delight thyself also in the Lord,
And he will give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4
I understood for the first time the double meaning in the word give. The Lord caused the correct desire to grow within me. In other words, I couldn't conjure it up. He actually planted in my heart the desire for him. The second part of the meaning is that the Lord also granted the fulfillment of that desire. He had actually performed a twofold action in me. He put within me the desire for him and then he fulfilled it with a deeper love for him. My responsibility was to make the choice to have desire.
Desire is a Choice
The words I heard that Sunday now have an even more profound significance for me. I realize that I have made choices in the past that have put other things before the Lord. I could see that before this experience, I hadn't trusted him completely. I had been giving him a back seat. And it was because of this I was getting exactly what I had desired; in fact, I was trying to fulfill my own desires. He was saying to me, "Put me first. Make room for me in your heart. I will bring you life." When I desired him over everything else, he began to show me that many things I had been choosing over him are unimportant. And he brought a fulfillment that I couldn't even comprehend a deeper revelation of himself!
This article taken from Recent Book of Mormon Developments vol. 2, p 166-167.