The desires of the righteous!
(John MacDuff, "Brief Thoughts for the Followers of Jesus" 1855)
"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you cannot do the things that you wish." Galatians 5:17
How true is this! How exactly does it accord with the experience of the believer! "As in water, face answers to face," so in God's Word, we have the inmost feelings of His people clearly reflected.
O, what would the Christian do — if he could! He would serve God perfectly. He would have his way directed to keep all His statutes. He would have all his faculties and feelings in complete subjection to the Divine Will. He would live, not to himself — but to Him who died for him and rose again. He would consecrate every moment to His service, and employ every breath in His praise.
In a word, he would rise to the seraphic sanctity of the Paradise above, and present to God those offerings which would be unmixed with any earthly dross; which would be uncontaminated and untinctured by any of the frailties of his fallen nature.
Could the Christian do as he would — there is not a glorified spirit before the Heavenly throne, who would excel or outstrip him! He would love as they do — serve as they do — admire and adore as they do. But here, alas! his infirmities are a constant clog about him — and hence his longings for that better world, where his desires and his doings will be one and the same!
Do we want a striking emblem of the child of God, as he is situated at present? We have it in that majestic bird, the eagle; not as it roams at large in the enjoyment of its native freedom — but when, as a poor captive, it is fastened down with a chain! It is an interesting object, under any circumstances, to gaze upon; but especially so, when its former soarings are contrasted with its present fettered state. The fire of its eye clearly indicates its longings for those lofty regions, far beyond the clouds, where it felt so much at home, and where its wings were often bathed in the burning splendors of the sun's meridian rays. But no sooner is the attempt made to mount aloft; no sooner does it begin to ruffle its plumes, and spread its wings, in order to prepare for the flight — than the touch of the chain is instantly felt!
Just so with the believer. At times how soaring are his aspirations! How would he rise, as on eagles' wings, above earth's turmoils on the one hand, and his manifold imperfections on the other! But, alas! how the chains of time and sense fetter his soul, and fasten it down to this earth! Then his cry is, "My soul cleaves unto the dust! Quicken me according to Your Word!" "O that I had wings like a dove, for then I would fly away and be at rest! I would hasten my escape from the stormy wind and tempest!"
A person is known — by his doings. But, in addition to this external and practical proof, a man's desires may be regarded as a strong index of his character. "As he thinks in his heart — so is he." There is undoubtedly sin — in the desire of sin; the actual commission of the outward act not being requisite to render us guilty in the sight of God. And there is undoubtedly grace — even in the desire of grace!
What then are the desires of my soul? Am I of the number of those who are walking according to the course of this world, and who are gratifying the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature? Or are my desires God-ward and Heaven-ward?
Let me remember, for my encouragement, that the Lord will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him. Let me seek Him then; let me trust in Him, and wait patiently for Him. "Delight yourself in the Lord — and He shall give you the desires of your heart!" "The desire of the righteous will be granted!" Proverbs 10:24