Psalm 119:81 My souls long for your salvation, I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise.
I wish that were all true for me. The truth is, my soul longs for things not good for it, I often hope in the tangible things of this world that I can see. My eyes are too often fixed on the next thing I think I need. My desires are all wrong. I want the wrong things and those things—recognition, money, status, greed—never satisfy. They only create in my heart more of the wrong longing. My love and desire is corrupted. I need retraining.
James K.A. Smith says, “In worship we don’t just come to show God our devotion and give him our praise; we are called to worship because in this encounter God (re)makes and molds us top-down. Worship is the arena in which God recalibrates our hearts, reforms our desires, and rehabituates our loves. Worship isn’t just something we do; it is where God does something to us. Worship is the heart of discipleship because it is the gymnasium in which God retrains our hearts.”
I don’t go to the gym BECAUSE I’m strong, I go there to train my body to be stronger. My daughter doesn’t dance six hours a day because she’s already a great athlete and dancer, she trains her body to do things it doesn’t naturally desire to do. And then somewhere after practicing the habit over and over, her body wants to become better and better and is willing to do the work it takes.
And so with our faith life. We don’t worship because we have the right desires and are spiritually strong. Just the opposite. We are weak and our desires are often jaded. So in humility, we place ourselves in training, to hear the word and receive God’s gifts. He so graciously remakes our hearts and re-forms our desires so that we finally begin to want what is truly good for us, what will make us happy and at peace. Our habits, then, are the training ground for our desires, so that we learn to love what is good and right and pure.