Desiderata (Latin: “desired things”, plural of desideratum) is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945).
It exhorts the reader to “be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be”, and to “keep peace with your soul”. “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,” wrote Ehrmann, “it is still a beautiful world.”—Wikipedia
Unquestionably, some of this prose-poem may be a bit pretentious, it revolves around concepts, at times which are not entirely sound, especially for the Christian believer.
We note these things and look for what we need. My old pastor liked to observe, “Swallow the meat, and spit out the bones.” That seems fitting, especially now. But no matter what we say, this particular work has very much wisdom for each of us. It is worthwhile I think.
This world that we’re immersed in needs hope and peace. Especially now.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
You really start to gather them when you’re middle-aged. I’m 62 now and am surprised (and somewhat disturbed) by my memories of things gone by. I guess this is one of the job hazards of getting old. But that’s the deal.
I guess what really bothers me the most are all the missed opportunities.
I wonder what life could have been like if I had accepted Christ at a younger age. A lot of pain would’ve been averted and perhaps I might have loved Jesus deeper than I do now. Some of us come to love Jesus late in life. There is so much time frittered away.
I regret the years spent in rebellion and disobedience. I remember the words of a 70-year-old man who had just received Christ, “Why did I wait so long for this to happen?”
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”
The solution to our regret is to focus on God’s total forgiveness. Past, Present, Future.
Paul clearly saw what lay ahead of him. Heaven was his destination, and, it’s our calling as well; it’s where we truly belong, made righteous in the loving presence of Jesus.
Peter tells us that our past sin was enough. We have wasted enough time doing evil. I don’t know about you, but I had a bellyful of sin, and it’s time for me to lay aside all my foolishness and rebellion and instead live for God. Enough is enough.
“You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.”
1 Peter 4:3
Thinking about my past keeps me humble and broken (which is no small thing)! But it also cements me into the joy of His marvelous amazing grace. I now know Jesus’ love.
Oh the joy I have of being forgiven!
David, that great sinner-king, understood the joy of forgiveness. He wanted us to believe in it as well:
1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
“We are to be re-made. All the rabbit in us is to disappear-and then, surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real Man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy.”
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
“Little children, let us not love in words or talk but in deeds and in truth.”
1 John 3:17-18, ESV
Love is a noble idea, it’s admired and extolled by practically everyone–we see it in our music and poetry, ethics and religion. For the most part it’s a word for something decent and virtuous and honorable. It’s a good thing, but I’m afraid it’s not always scriptural.
You see, Bible love wears work gloves.
It labors and sweats. Bible love has chores to do, and it actively looks and sees what needs to be done. 1 John 3 tells us that we shouldn’t deceive ourselves and only see the world’s definition. That love that a believer has is to be different.
Love, in John’s eyes, is most assuredly “doing.” It burns spiritual calories as it labors to serve our brothers and sisters. Love finds things it can do–it doesn’t just talk but it gets busy. Love sees the need and then gets down to serve.
“You must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.”
1 Peter 1:22
Working (serving) has nothing to do with our salvation, that is a free gift. We’re saved by grace through the blood of Jesus–that’s a given. And this love isn’t drudgery, as a matter of fact, working and serving each other is a joy. The deepest kind of joy there is.
Our words, although important, are really an insufficient way of proving our authenticity. The love we serve another with isn’t “pretty poetry” kind of love. It’s so easy to just shout out truth and never ever show a working, serving kind of love.
That disconnect is a bit disturbing.
When do we suppose we figure out that His love is actually a verb?
Our prayer and intercession really begins when we go to work for someone else. (Our lunch box is our Bible.) We read it and it energizes us to work for one another. When we pray we truly are loving another brother or sister. Work that they can’t or won’t do for themselves. At least not yet. So we pray.
John is calling believers to a much more real kind of love. Love that sweats.
“The church is made up of individuals. It can do nothing except as its members work, and work together.”
“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence.”
“He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”
Psalm 91:3-4, NKJV
I believe that there is great opposition to living free. Satan contests every square inch. His modus operandi parallels the predator. He likes to hunt human beings. We see his power and influence all around us.
I’m being quite careful not to be melodramatic when I say this, but Satan has a terrible plan for your life. He often uses human ‘lackeys’ to carry out his wishes. They will use deception, lies, and foolishness to snare people’s souls. They [he] will even resort to brute force. As a result, many believers are being persecuted for their faith.
14 “David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.”
1 Samuel 23:14, NLT
5 “My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.”
7 “We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!”
And there is plenty more where this comes from. And we haven’t even got to the New Testament yet, where there are substantial references to this kind of attack. The doctrine of Satan is developed further there. Perhaps it is because we encounter the person of Jesus Christ and the act of personal redemption He made for each of us. Through this, we discover that we have an enemy that we were never really aware of before. And guess what— he hates us!
Some New Testament thoughts:
4 “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
12 “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Just as we have a personal savior in Jesus, we find we also have an antagonist and a sworn enemy. We didn’t ask for it, and it would be really swell if he didn’t exist at all. But the world’s evil around us has a source and we dare not minimize it.
“There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”
Our fealty to Jesus becomes critical at times like this. Spiritual warfare has an ebb and a flow to it, sometimes the battles can be intense, and at other times less so. But we can do nothing at all apart from the blood of Christ. We must defend ourselves, by calling out to God, or else we will become a casualty.
We can pray.
We can read the truth (the Bible).
We can praise and worship.
We can put on “the armor of God’ (Ephesians 6:11).
We can “submit to God” (James 4:7).
We can resist Satan and be firm in our faith, (1 Peter 5:9).
We can “plead the blood of Jesus” over our lives, and over our loved ones, (Exodus 12:13)
Probably the capstone is the following verse. This pretty much sums up this ‘act of resistance’ we are all called to do. I wanted to emphasize it because it is critical:
“Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”