Apologetics, Reflection, Theology

The End of Desire

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This is a potentially life-changing truth: You desire God. You desire him more than any other thing, even when the desire you consciously feel is directed at something which he hates and forbids. We think we don’t desire God and that what we really desire is happiness in the things around us, because God is known for being the divine kill-joy. But the opposite is true underneath it all.

There is a clue to this within our desires themselves. We want the things we love to last forever. This is especially true of the thing that we want above all: love. Beyond money, success or power we feel incomplete without true, meaningful relationships with people who know us truly and yet truly accept us, value us and seek our good. But in each and every case, the good things we love come to an end. We want them to last. The reason we keep chasing after them is that they don’t. Nothing ever does. Nothing finite ever could.

Our constant pangs, then, are displaced longings for what we really want. We can’t really just want money and sex and control because when we get them, no matter how much, we still want more. Loving relationships offer us a glimpse of what we are truly here for, but even these must end. The party comes to a close and is tidied up. The night must draw its curtains and eventually we must say farewell to those we love. But what if we could reach the place, the person, where that fullness never ran dry? Where all of our deepest longings met their true and unending object. A love which knew no limits either of depth or time.

As experience testifies, and logic demands, this is not, and indeed could not, be found on this earth. It cannot be found either among material objects or finite beings, both of which are inherently limited. Instead,
deep down, our restless search for some bottomless joy can only be satisfied in an infinite relational being. And not any infinite being, but a being infinitely good and greater than all other goods. That good is God and can only ever truly be God. Therefore his greatest gift could only ever be the gift of himself, the only good thing which never comes to an end.

He is the end of our desire. To realise this is to be liberated once and for all from the endless goose-chase. To realise that our sense of alienation, of feeling like we’re on the outside looking in on the way life is supposed to feel, is really just a sign pointing to our true home, frees us from wasting our lives pursuing things that don’t satisfy, in order to focus on the only One who truly can. To deny this is to condemn oneself to an existence of constant desire without hope of satisfaction, a desert world where we constantly thirst, unwittingly seeking for the very One we say does not exist.

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