The Effecter of Affections
August 6, 2009 § 1 Comment
During the time in my life that I was far from God, I spent some time in Orange County, CA. I have wondered several times what it would be like to go back and see the places I once saw, to eat in the places I once ate, and even to drive on the streets I was drove on. This kind of talk may seem strange, and it is, but there is a reason for the piquing of my curiosity. My affections are different now than they once were which causes me to wonder what it would feel like if I was in the same geographical locations but with a completely different mindset.
So my opportunity came about two weeks ago. I was in Southern California for work, we were putting on a conference in Orange County. I was only gone from home for 47 hours. Most of the time driving around was very unnatural and even nerve-racking at times. I was reminded of former times, places, and emotions.
The climax of these unnatural and nerve-racking feelings came after the event when we decided to go have dinner in Huntington Beach. Little did we know that the US Open of surfing was that same weekend in Huntington Beach. So Main St. was absolutely packed out. There we just people everywhere. We were planning on going to a pizza restaurant called BJ’s, and as we walked across the street towards the restaurant, I saw three old friends that I knew while I was living in Orange County. These friends were actually people that I had known since I was about 13 years old. These are friends that I had gone to school dances with. These are friends that I used to go to parties with. These are friends that I used to live down the street from. These were friends that used to be, and still were that evening, very kind to me. These were people that I would probably be close with today given different circumstances. We had about a 10 minute talk during which they informed me that even more past friends were just right across the street at an upstairs bar. Again more friends that I had spent a lot of time with in the past. We exchanged pleasantries and we went about our separate ways.
After the meal I took a walk out onto the pier and began to reflect on why I was so nervous, and antsy, and even scared to some degree. The reason is my affections have changed. The feelings that I had associated with these places were not the same feeling that associated with them now. It’s not these old friends that I don’t have an affection for (because I do), it’s the things that they have an affection for that I don’t have an affection for.
A change of affections is something only God can do. We can only do that which we desire to do, and we can’t change what we desire to do. John Piper puts it this way,
It is humanly manageable to make decisions of the will for Christ. No supernatural power is required to pray prayers, sign cards, walk aisles, or even stop sleeping around. Those are good. They just don’t prove that anything spiritual has happened. Christian conversion, on the other hand, is a supernatural, radical thing. The heart is changed. And the evidence of it is not just new decisions, but new affections, new feelings.
To have a change in affections means that what you want and what you feel change. A change in your affections means that a miracle has happened. The things that you once valued, and fought for, and craved, and loved, you now consider to be a waste.
So on that pier, as I watched the waves roll in, I was delighting in the great, mighty, barrier breaking, life-giving, affection transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has set my heart aflame to desire and treasure Him above all else. He has done something in my life that only he can do, he has changed my affections to enjoy him above all else. “You alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship thee!”