Anatomy of Desire


Food and sex. Now that I got your attention…I spend a lot of time thinking about what drives people, especially since I’ve personally been driven by cycles of addiction at times in my life. I spend a lot of time thinking about why people want to consume so deeply, when ultimately, they end up being the one consumed.

I’ve been through the cycles of food addiction—the love/hate treadmill of trying to fill up an emptiness inside with food. It felt wonderful in the moment of consumption, but shortly afterward, the deep regret and self-loathing set in. What did I turn to in order to soothe the despair over how terrible I felt about myself? More food. Terrible, depressing cycle!

I’ve personally been through cycles of craving attention from men. At that time in my life, I could not get enough. The massive highs and lows of my fantasy world sucked the life out of my real life and relationships, until I was bone dry.

I think of all the scenarios where people can’t get enough of consuming people, things, and experiences, and in the end how they get used up. Often their real dreams and lives are destroyed in the process.

But here’s what I think now. Deep down, I think people actually want to be consumed, and that is why they give themselves over to consuming. Deep down, I think each of us wants to feel fully known, fully accepted, and fully overcome by LOVE. We spend our days on earth, driven to look for something to give us that feeling of being lost in something bigger and more fulfilling than ourselves—something safe, soothing, deeply satisfying.

You know what else I think? I think God made us this way. He put the innate desire to be fully known and deeply loved—from our hair follicles down to our toenails. He made us innately yearn to be consumed in this way.

Consuming Fire

What a coincidence! God is called a “consuming fire” several times throughout the Bible:

“So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Deut. 4:23-24

In the Old Testament, a fire was kept burning in the tabernacle at all times. Do you know what that fire symbolized? It was God’s very presence. Do you know what the tabernacle (also called a “temple”) symbolized? YOU. Do you know what that fire did? It consumed things.

Two Purposes

The Bible speaks of two purposes of God’s consuming fire. One purpose is to burn away impurities—our tendency to turn for comfort and satisfaction to those things that are not “His fire” and not pleasing to Him. This type of fire can feel like discipline and can be painful while it roots out (kills) the “strange fires” in our lives. Strange fires are anything we turn to in place of God to consume or be consumed by—a.k.a. idols.

“But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered STRANGE FIRE before the LORD.” Numbers 26:61

The second purpose of God’s fire feels more like inspiration, passion, life, and satisfaction. This is the consuming fire used on those who walk in obedience to Him, and who turn to Him for the experience of being known and loved. It is a pleasant fire, and fills that deepest place of yearning.

The person who consumes according to the flesh will be consumed by the jealous, corrective fire of God’s discipline. Often this will feel like bondage, despair, and death of dreams. But the person who consumes according to the Spirit (feasting on the Word and presence of God) will be consumed by the permeating, life-giving, impassioned fire of God’s blessing (Rom. 8:6). That person will experience the freedom, joy, satisfaction, and abiding life of being fully known and fully loved. It is important to understand that BOTH fires have the intent of LOVE. But it is the state of our hearts that determines our ability to perceive it as love.

It is my prayer that we will both be consumed by LOVE today.

Your Story:
  • Do you experience the desire to be consumed?
  • Tell us about your experience with fire—which fire have you experienced?

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  • Carrie

    Thanks for this post. I am actually going through this right now, both with food and with a relationship that I just gave up. Both have been completely draining to me. I am on the road to freedom, through the Spirit's consuming fire. This was just what I needed to hear right now…Thanks!!

    • jferwerd

      Wow, nice to get a comment finally…everyone is quiet lately! :D I'm getting writer insecurity–haha.

      • Brandi

        keep writing, Julie! I've never commented until now and God has used your writing in my life on numerous occasions. Please accept my apologies for not telling you sooner! Keep on!!

        • jferwerd

          Thanks Brandi. Makes my day!!

  • Evi

    yes, can relate also! But the answer truly is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and we won't have need to be filled by anything or anyone else!…but knowing and doing is so very different!

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