We become what we desire

Will you ponder the following quote; Raymond Holliwell said, desire creates the power. Walter Lippman asserted, Ignore what a man desires, and you ignore the very source of his power, and John McDonald, affirmed, the intensity of your desire governs the power with which the force is directed. I have chosen to reflect on the importance of desire. It will be worthwhile to search our hearts to determine what we really desire and how we rank our most important desires.

Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming. As mortals we have some basic physical needs. Desires to satisfy these needs compel our choices and determine our actions. Three examples will demonstrate how we sometimes override these desires with other desires that we consider more important.

First is food. We have a basic need for food, but for a time that desire can be overridden by a stronger desire to fast. Second,shelter. As I see so many people sleeping outside in Accra or in Kiosk all over the place because they can’t either afford a rent or are homeless in the capital city, my heart cries because it’s considered  a basic need which should be available to all.  Third, sleep. Even this basic desire can be temporarily overridden by an even more important desire. We’ve seen men at war or at work who are deprived of this basic needs. So people even deny themselves this basic need in order to satisfy themselves of a particular desire. Others have to buy these basic needs through the use of medication.

The Book of Mormon contains many teachings on the importance of desire.After many hours of pleading with the Lord, Enos was told that his sins were forgiven. He then “began to feel a desire for the welfare of [his] brethren” (Enos 1:9). He wrote, “And … after I had prayed and laboured with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith” (verse 12). Note the three essentials that preceded the promised blessing: desire, labour, and faith.

In his sermon on faith, Alma teaches that faith can begin with “no more than [a] desire to believe” if we will “let this desire work in [us]” (Alma 32:27).Another great teaching on desire, especially on what should be our ultimate desire, occurs in the experience of the Lamanite king being taught by the missionary Aaron. When Aaron’s teaching caught his interest, the king asked, “What shall I do that I may be born of God” and “have this eternal life?” (Alma 22:15). Aaron replied, “If thou desirest this thing, … if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow  before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest” (verse 16).

The king did so and in mighty prayer declared, “I will give away all my sins to know thee … and be saved at the last day” (verse 18). With that commitment and that identification of his ultimate desire, his prayer was answered miraculously.The prophet Alma had a great desire to cry repentance to all people, but he came tounderstand that he should not desire the compelling power this would require because, he concluded, “a just God … granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life” (Alma 29:4). Similarly, in modern revelation the Lord declares that He “will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts”.

Are we truly prepared to have our Eternal Judge attach this enormous significance to what we really desire? How do we develop desires? Few will have the kind of crisis that motivated Aaron Ralston, but his experience provides a valuable lesson about developing desires. While Ralston was hiking in a remote canyon in a Western United State, an 800-pound (360 kg) rock shifted suddenly and trapped his right arm. For five lonely days he struggled to free himself. When he was about to give up and accept death, he had a vision of a three-year-old boy running toward him and being scooped up with his left arm. Understanding this as a vision of his future son and an assurance that he could still live, Ralston summoned the courage and took drastic action to save his life before his strength ran out. He broke the two bones in his trapped right arm and then used the knife in his multitool to cut off that arm. He then summoned the strength to hike five miles (8 km) for help.What an example of the power of an overwhelming desire!

When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously.Most of us will never face such an extreme crisis, but all of us face potential traps that will prevent progress toward our eternal destiny. If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other sinful pressures and priorities that prevent our eternal progress.

We should remember that righteous desires cannot be superficial, impulsive, or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent. So motivated, we will seek for that condition described by Joseph Smith, where we have “overcome the evils of our lives and lost every desire for sin.” That is a very personal decision. Neal A. Maxwell said:“When people are described as ‘having lost their desire for sin,’ it is they, and they only, who deliberately decided to lose those wrong desires by being willing to ‘give away all their sins’ in order to know God.”“Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.”

As important as it is to lose every desire for sin, eternal life requires more. To achieve our eternal destiny, we will desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being. For example, eternal beings forgive all who have wronged them. They put the welfare of others ahead of themselves. And they love all of God’s children. If this seems too difficult—and surely it is not easy for any of us—then we should begin with a desire for such qualities and call upon our loving Heavenly Father for help with our feelings.

Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. In addition, it is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something, whether a true friend, a gifted teacher, or one who has qualified for eternal life.I pray that we will desire to become like Jesus Christ so that one day we can return to His presence to receive the fulness of His joy.

Samuel Enos Eghan

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