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Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers Paperback – October 14, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Eldredge is an author, a counselor, and a teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recovering their own hearts in God’s love, and learning to live in God’s Kingdom. He lives near Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Once upon a time there lived a sea lion who had lost the sea. He lived in a country known as the barren lands. High on a plateau, far from any coast, it was a place so dry and dusty that it could only be called a desert. A kind of coarse grass grew in patches here and there, and a few trees were scattered across the horizon. But mostly, it was dust. And sometimes wind, which together make one very thirsty. Of course, it must seem strange to you that such a beautiful creature should wind up in a desert at all. He was, mind you, a sea lion. But things like this do happen.

How the sea lion came to the barren lands, no one could remember. It all seemed so very long ago. So long, in fact, it appeared as though he had always been there. Not that he belonged in such an arid place. How could that be? He was, after all, a sea lion. But as you know, once you have lived so long in a certain spot, no matter how odd, you come to think of it as home.

Our Heart's Deepest Secret

We are never living, but hoping to live. --Pascal

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them. --George Eliot

And I still haven't found what I'm looking for. --U2

There is a secret set within each of our hearts. It often goes unnoticed, we rarely can put words to it, and yet it guides us throughout the days of our lives. This secret remains hidden for the most part in our deepest selves. It is the desire for life as it was meant to be. Isn't there a life you have been searching for all your days? You may not always be aware of your search, and there are times when you seem to have abandoned looking altogether. But again and again it returns to us, this yearning that cries out for the life we prize. It is elusive, to be sure. It seems to come and go at will. Seasons may pass until it surfaces again. And though it seems to taunt us, and may at times cause us great pain, we know when it returns that it is priceless. For if we could recover this desire, unearth it from beneath all other distractions, and embrace it as our deepest treasure, we would discover the secret of our existence.

You see, life comes to all of us as a mystery. We all share the same dilemma--we long for life and we're not sure where to find it. We wonder if we ever do find it, can we make it last? The longing for life within us seems incongruent with the life we find around us. What is available seems at times close to what we want, but never quite a fit. Our days come to us as a riddle, and the answers aren't handed out with our birth certificates. We must journey to find the life we prize. And the guide we have been given is the desire set deep within, the desire we often overlook or mistake for something else or even choose to ignore.

The greatest human tragedy is to give up the search. Nothing is of greater importance than the life of our deep heart. To lose heart is to lose everything. And if we are to bring our hearts along in our life's journey, we simply must not, we cannot, abandon this desire. Gerald May writes in The Awakened Heart,

There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart. We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies. We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake . . . Our true identity, our reason for being, is to be found in this desire.

The clue as to who we really are and why we are here comes to us through our heart's desire. But it comes in surprising ways, and often goes unnoticed or is misunderstood. Once in a while life comes together for us in a way that feels good and right and what we've been waiting for. These are the moments in our lives that we wish could go on forever. They aren't necessarily the "Kodak moments," weddings and births and great achievements. More often than not they come in subtler, unexpected ways, as if to sneak up on us.

Think of times in your life that made you wish for all the world that you had the power to make time stand still. Are they not moments of love, moments of joy? Simple moments of rest and quiet when all seems to be well. Something in your heart says, Finally-it has come. This is what I was made for!


It was the final evening of our summer vacation. We had spent nine wonderful days in the Tetons hiking and swimming, laughing and playing, enjoying rare and wonderful time together as a family in a stunningly beautiful place. During our explorations, we had discovered a quiet pond in the woods, about a half hour's walk from camp, where wildlife would often come in the evening. This night, we planned to arrive at dusk and stay until night fell to see what nature might reveal. The sun was setting behind us as we arrived, and far off in the east massive thunderheads were building above the Absarokas, cloud upon cloud, giant castles in the sky. The fading day was slowly turning them peach, then pink, then gray.

A pair of trumpeter swans were swimming across our little pond, looking for all the world like something from a fairy tale. My wife and I sat together with our three boys on a spot of grass near the water's edge, our backs against a fallen log. Across the pond lay a meadow, the stage for the evening's drama. As light began to fade, a bull moose with a massive rack emerged from the willows directly across the meadow from where we sat. He spotted us and stopped; we held our breath. Silently, he disappeared into the trees as mysteriously as he had come. Before we could be disappointed, a cow moose and her calf appeared from another part of the meadow, wandering along grazing. We watched them as night continued to fall.

A cool breeze stirred the pines above us. Crickets began their twilight chorus. The cow lay down in the tall grass, but we could still see her calf. Sandhill cranes were calling and answering one another around the marsh with their haunting, primeval cries. The boys huddled closer to us. A beaver swam by our feet, making a V through the surface of the pond, faded with the light to a gunmetal gray. Far off in the distance, lightning was beginning within those cloud fortresses, flashes of glory. A small herd of elk came out to graze at the far end of the meadow, just as darkness was settling in. Finally, as if not to be left out, a lone coyote began to howl. It was one of the most breathtaking nights I have ever experienced in the wilderness, a living work of art. As the Scottish poet George MacDonald knew so well, something is calling to us in moments like these.

Yet hints come to me from the realm unknown;
Airs drift across the twilight border land, Odored with life;
. . . whispers to my heart are blown
That fill me with a joy I cannot speak, Yea, from whose shadow words drop faint and weak.
--Diary of an Old Soul

I know these years are passing quickly, and the time will come when our boys will no longer want to vacation with us. They will find other loves and form other ties, and our lives will never be the same again. Sitting there with them in the woods, clutching their flashlights, whispering to each other about each passing mystery, I would have given anything to stop the clock, turn it back if only for a few days, let us live it all again. But the seasons pass with or without our permission, and I knew in my heart we could not stay. For a moment, we were all caught up in something bigger and more beautiful than we had ever known, "suspended above the earth," as Norman MacLean says, "free from all its laws, like a work of art. And I knew just as surely and just as clearly, that life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last."


Sometimes these moments go unrecognized as they unfold, but their secret comes to us years later in our longing to relive them. Aren't there times in your life that if you could, you would love to return to? I grew up in Los Angeles but spent my boyhood summers in Oregon where both my mother's and my father's parents lived. There was a beauty and innocence and excitement to those days. Woods to explore, rivers to fish, grandparents to fuss over me. My parents were young and in love, and the days were full of adventures I did not have to create or pay for, but only live in and enjoy. Rafting and swimming in the Rogue River. Playing in the park. Huckleberry pie at Becky's along the road to Crater Lake. We all have places in our past when life, if only for a moment, seemed to be coming together in the way we knew in our hearts it was always meant to be.

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream . . .
Heaven lies about us in our infancy;
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows.
He sees it in his joy; . . .
At length the man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
--Ode, Intimations of Immortality from Recollection of Childhood

Wordsworth caught a glimpse of the secret in his childhood, saw in it hints from the realm... --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785288422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785288428
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the same book that was formerly called "Journey of Desire" so you do not need both! The Table of Contents are the same, even the same number of pages.

The "Journey of Desire" is a great book, so if you have not read it yet, then get this book. Check out all the reviews for that book on Amazon.com.
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Eldredge says in this book that it is thirst that drives us to what is good and that, in essence, addiction is what we use to deny or cover over the thirst. The question is "Thirst for What?" Eldredge makes an excellent case for the belief that spiritual reality is strong in us and that God has set up a place within us that can't be filled with anything else and he causes that empty place to thirst for Him.(God) If we deny the thirst we will get caught up in small stories and small addictions to deaden the thirst we feel for the ultimate reality, which is God Himself.
I think Eldredge has made an excellent case for his thesis and that we, in America at least, are so busy because we want to deny that thirst and not feel what our busyness is keeping us away from.
If you believe you are missing something in your life, this is a book that can help you discover it. I know that re-reading what Eldredge says in this book helped me draw closer to what my soul was looking for. I particularly liked the story of the sea lion, which had a piece at the beginning of each chapter.
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Format: Paperback
If you are familiar with John Eldredge's work, this book certainly has his signature style. It makes you think and develop your own conclusions. If you want a book with all the answers, look elsewhere. If you are looking for an instruction manual of how to turn your passion into riches, this is not for you. But, if you want (or need) to be prompted to get your mind around how God can use you the way he created you...to step back and see the bigger picture so as to understand how you fit in God's world, then read this book.
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"Desire" by John Eldredge is a good title for the person who struggles with desires and wonders what to do with them. Of course, I am not talking about illicit desires like committing a crime or the such. Instead, how about the new career area, hobby, personal goal, or some other pursuit that either has been dormant for several years or has become a recent interest? Eldredge's thesis appears to be that we should not let our duties or life obligations keep us from fulfilling those desires.

Among the points covered include:

1. We should come to God more often with our desires.
2. If we do not have deep personal desires, someone else will rule us with theirs.
3. Be careful of the idols that can distract us from who we truly are.
4. We need to give our desire for life over to God.
5. We are happiest when we are expressing the gifts that are truly us.
6. Do nothing unless it reflects your true desire.
7. The cross proves God's love for us.
8. All of our desires will find their place when we give God His place in our lives.
9. God grants us much of our heart's desire as we delight in Him (Psalm 37: 4-5).
10. To hear God, reduce the constant noise in your life.

Like other Eldredge titles, the reader is challenged to think about his or her life and see where God fits in. Actually, He must be the center!

There is one comment that I did have a problem with. Around page 169 Eldredge admits he stopped attending church for a year because he was tired of "the performance of showing up every Sunday morning with my happy face on".
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Eldredge always touches me with his writing, he has a way of presenting what's in scripture and using it as a backdrop to anecdotal stories thus making stuff I kind of know already become more alive. I feel closer to God and I feel more like wanting to serve God when I read his works.

In Desire, Eldredge presents us with the fact that we all desire things, relationships, sex, food, etc., in life. We all live with desire and if desire is stuffed, shoved away, then usually we'll end up seeking out illegitimate ways to meet our needs for pleasure and pain avoidance.

By allowing our God given desires to drive us to the places God has for us, in other words, for living in such a ways as to allow the desires of our hearts (what God has built into us) to guide us with the hand of the Spirit to those places God intended us to go, then we will live lives filled with both joy and fulfillment even in the midst of hard times and pain.

This isn't some cheer leading rah-rah book, nor is it some kind of "name it and claim" type of instruction. This book is about what we already know (that we want stuff out of life) and that Jesus said he came to give us life, and to give it to us in the fullest sense of what that means. That life eludes most of us, even the best of Christians.

I strongly recommend this book.

Edit: late 2012, full disclosure here, I've recently become an atheist and have renounced Christianity. I've been through a very horrible church experience, but it's not just anger and such, I also did some research, I'm recommending:
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