Would you go in the Room?

On one level we know where true fulfillment in life comes from.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Jesus

So, why are so many of us tired, worn out and lacking in joy?

you-are-what-you-loveAfter reading the first couple chapters of “You Are What You Love” by James K.A. Smith I think I have the answer.

Perhaps the disconnect between the rest that Jesus offers and the reality of how life feels has to do with the fact that we are not aware of what our own heart is craving after most. As Christians we would all say that God is what we desire most, but are we so sure?

Allow me to share with you this lengthy excerpt from Smith’s book that I found fascinating.

What do you want? That, we’ve seen is the question. It is the first and fundamental question of discipleship because you are what you love. But buried in this insight is an uncomfortable realization: you might not love what you think you love.

This discomforting epiphany is at the heart of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s masterpiece, Stalker. The genre hovers between noir thriller and dystopian science fiction. Set in environs that at times evoke Cormac McCarthy’s The Road but at other moments feel like The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the “plot” (such as it is) follows three men on a journey: Professor, Writer, and Stalker, who serves as their guide. As we begin, the destination is shrouded in mystery and intrigue, but eventually we learn that Stalker is leading these men to the Zone, and more specifically to the Room within the Zone…The Room is what has drawn them here, and has led them to follow Stalker’s promises. For in the Room, he tells them, they will achieve their heart’s desire. In the Room their dreams will come true. In the Room you get exactly what you want.

Which is why, when they are at the threshold of the room, Professor and Writer begin to get cold feet. Geoff Dyer captures the scene in his remarkable book about the film, Zona.

They are in a big, abandoned, derelict, dark damp room with what look like the remains of an enormous chemistry set floating in the puddle in the middle, as if the Zone resulted from an ill-conceived experiment that went horribly wrong. Off to the right, through a large hole in the wall, is a source of light that they all look towards. For a long while no one speaks. The air is full of the chirpy chirpy cheep cheep of birdsong. It’s the opposite of those places where the sedge has withered from the lake and no birds sing. The birds are whistling and chirruping and singing like mad. Stalker tells Writer and Professor-tells us-that we are now at the very threshold of the Room. This is the most important moment in your life, he says. Your innermost wish will be made true here.

Here we are. This is the place where you can have what you want. Who wants to go in first?

Professor and Writer hesitate because it dawns on them: What if I don’t know what I want? “Well,” observes Dyer, “that’s for the room to decide. The room reveals all: what you get is not what you think you wish for but what you most deeply wish for.” A disturbing epiphany is creeping up on Professor and Writer: What if they don’t want what they think? What if the desires they are conscious of-the one’s they’ve “chosen,” as it were-are not their innermost longings, their deepest wish? What if, in some sense, their deepest longings are humming under their conscious unawares? What, if in effect, they are not who they think they are?

So, would you go in the Room?

What this excerpt is telling me is that the reason I, at times, don’t feel the rest that I so desperately want is due to the fact that if I stepped into the Room God is not the One who would be revealed as what I most desire.

I do believe that there are all kinds of longings and cravings that we all have that run beneath the surface of our lives. These unconscious desires lead us, guide us. The problem is that they never lead to peace or contentment. I have a new determination to ask God to reveal to me all the desires in my heart that have taken His rightful place. I think this is the only path to the rest that Jesus promises in the gospel of Matthew.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Would you go in the Room? Why or why not?

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