Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wishing, Desiring, Intending

I wish I had a million dollars; I wish I were snorkeling in the Caribbean; I wish the Sunnis and Shiites would quit blowing each other up. That is, I can form a positive mental image of the object of my wish. When I conceive of it happening, I have good feelings about it.

I desire to learn to speak Spanish. I desire to run a sub-20 minute 5k. I desire to organize my office. That is, beyond forming a positive mental image about these things, every once in a while I engage in a flurry of activity that has something to do with achieving these goals. I consistently want to do them, and have resolved (several times, in fact) to make these things happen, but none of them are currently achieved (nor, if I'm being brutally honest, do I expect them to happen any time soon).

I intend to write a book. I intend to go camping at Cornerstone again this year. I intend to pay off the van loan by the end of the summer. That is, beyond wishing for these things, and beyond desiring them and resolving to accomplish them, I am currently engaged in practices which have reliably shown to lead to the intended goal. I am committed to seeing them happen and have prioritized accordingly.

Wishing, desiring, intending... If we asked Christians where on that scale would the goal of "Becoming more like Christ" fall, I fear that for most of us it is somewhere between wishing and desiring.

Equally we might ask about "Becoming spiritually mature" or (to use Willard's blunt example) "stopping sinning", or to link an earlier post, "learning to obey all that Jesus has commanded". What does this tell us about the depth of Christianity as practiced in 21st century America?


derryprenkert said...

great thoughts.
challenged me.
INTENDING to do something with that challenge.

Mark said...

Hey Jim,

I'm enjoying your blog.

Your cousin, Mark.

RCP said...

Forgive the crudity, but you know the old adage... "wish in one hand and crap in the other and watch which gets full first.

J. B. Stump said...

Is that really an adage?

RCP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RCP said...

I'm tempted to say, "all strings of 2-15 or so words qualify as adages--there is nothing new under the sun." But as for this particular string of words, I've actually heard it used by multiple sources with various synonyms used for the word "crap". Try typing "wish in one hand crap in the other" into a google search. I think the first place I actually heard this was the movie "Grumpier Old Men."

iloveraptors said...

I first read your post on Robby's Xanga. I read this post to my Sunday School class last week (giving you full credit, of course). It's definitely something that I needed to think about.

Dr. Stump, thanks for sharing this with us.