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I bumped into a friend a few weeks ago in the hallway at church. Grabbing my hand, with a twinkle in her eye, she asks me, “What do you want?” Kind of confused, I stumble over my words, as I realize I don’t have an answer for this strange question. Luckily, she quickly inserted the reason for her question. She goes on to explain how she was reading in the book of John that morning, and the very first red letter words of Jesus were, “What do you want?”

John 1:35-38 reads, “The following day John (the Baptist) was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.

Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.
They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“So what do you want?” my friend probes again. Not really waiting for answer, she joyfully bounces away to continue her childcare management role.

I think about the context of that verse for a while. Disciples of John the Baptist believe they have found the Christ, and they are seeking Him out. Jesus turns to them, and gently asks, “What is it that you want?” or as another version states, “What are you seeking?”

These disciples, hungry for truth, answer Jesus’ question with a question, “Where are you staying?”

I wonder if it is as though they are saying this, “Jesus, I cannot merely give you an answer to your question, ‘What do you seek?’ I want YOU, Jesus! Where are you staying? Where are you going? For there I will follow you. I do not want a meeting on the roadside, I want to know you.”

They weren’t seeking quick truth or fast fixes of forgiveness. These Hebrew fishermen, friends of John the Baptist, had heard about the Messiah, and they wanted all of Him.

Pondering this and more, I feel the Lord asking me the same: “What do you want?”

I could jot down 20 things I desperately want in my life, ranging from marriage/family goals to personal development and more. All “holy things”, I assure you.

But do I want my “wish list” granted over intimacy with Jesus?

Gently, Jesus uses this encounter with my friend to pursue my heart.

Busy with life, work, kids, etc., I had gotten bogged down with tasks and let my spiritual well-being get put on the back burner.

My soul was hungry, but I ignored it, too many other things to do. Am I the only one?

What do I want? The question haunts me for weeks. And why is Jesus asking me this?

It is only time in His presence where I begin to receive answers.

It is only time in His presence where I begin to receive answers. I quickly realize that the question is, absolutely, loaded. There is no quick answer to God when He asks you what you want. It causes pause, because to flippantly disregard the question is almost to say, “I’m not willing to pursue you.”

Scriptures flood my mind as soon as I quiet my life a little bit to listen:


“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

“Call to Me and I will answer and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

I begin to see that the focus is not on the granting of the desires, it is where to find the Granter. “Delight in me, and then…” “Call to Me, and then…”

Each of these verses requires something of me: a reciprocal pursuit of the heart of God. I pursue Him, because He first pursued me.

I have come to discover that showing up in prayer, whether written or spoken, is equivalent to showing up to my own life. There is never a time I feel more connected to the Lord and my own heart than when I take the time to pray, write, and listen.

Jesus asks me, “What do you want?” because he really wants to hear it. Intimacy with the Father through honest prayer, solitude, and humility will change us. It continues to change me. It may even change the desires of our heart. The question-asking of Jesus to us leads us to a place of evaluation, retreat, and intimacy with Himself to even discover the answer.

I realized I had become lazy, and frustrated in many of the things that I would once proclaim boldly that were the desires of my heart. The Lord wanted to remind me of those things.

His questions are an invitation.

He invites me to follow Him, into the quiet place, not so he can “grant all my wishes,” but so that my heart can be re-ordered. My own “head-down, get-to-it-ness” fills my heart with anxiety and overwhelm, as all I stare at are my lists and usually, my shortcomings. This causes my own perceived worth to become muddied up by failed works. But every time I show up to Jesus, I get to be reminded of my true worth and identity.

Through prayer, my desires shift to His desires, and re-align with the Kingdom of God.

Friends, the Lord very often allures us with His words and asks provoking questions, in order to get us away from the hustle, and into His heart.

So what do I actually want? Just Jesus. To know His voice, feel His presence, to daily be a brighter reflection of His Love. This happens by being in His presence. Sure, there are pages upon pages in my journal of things that I am still asking of the Lord, but ultimately- what I want? Only Jesus

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About Marianne Sloan

Marianne Sloan is passionate about Jesus, her family, and living simply, intentionally, and with great joy. She has found that there is no greater life fulfillment than following hard after the God who has created her, knows her by name, and who loves her. The wife to Luke, and mama to four, Marianne and her family live in beautiful Tennessee. She is a homeschool-mom, web-designer, and nature-lover. Spending her days raising and teaching her four littles keeps her hands full, but when she's not mothering, working or teaching, she loves to read, write, garden, and run. You can connect with Marianne on her BLOG {mariannemsloan.com} and INSTAGRAM {@marianne_sloan}.

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