"Desperado" was a big hit for the Eagles back in 1973 and has been covered many times since then by such artists as Linda Ronstadt and Johnny Cash. One of the song’s classic lines speaks to angst of our times: “It's hard to tell the night time from the day; And you're losing all your highs and lows; ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away... Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?”
A desperado, according to Webster’s, is someone who is so desperate they are willing to do things that involve risk or danger, and often criminal behavior. Author and poet Henry David Thoreau once observed that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Thoreau and the Eagles both got it right about the plight of American manhood today.
Psalm 84:2 tells of another kind of desperation. David was a desperado. There was a time he was a man on the run, a man in hiding from King Saul. He knew both the sweet and bitter providence of God in his life. In this Psalm David laments, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Do you feel that way about God? Are you desperate for Him? Do you have a gnawing, aching hunger inside to know your Heavenly Father better?
Luke 15 tells the story of the prodigal son who became a desperado of sorts. After zealously claiming his inheritance from his father, he squandered it on wild living and chasing after all the world has to offer. He ended up slopping hogs and eating after them. Then the text says he “came to his senses”. God humbled him and he confessed his sin and need for his father’s grace and mercy. He became a desperate man for reconciliation with and the embrace of his father. He discovered that only his restored relationship with his father could satisfy his heart’s desire. Do you feel like you’ve squandered away blessings and opportunities God has given you on foolish, selfish living? Are your desperate for God’s rescue and reconciliation? Do you long for His embrace?
John Piper writes about why it’s a good thing for men to be “spiritual desperados” for God.
“The New Testament teaches us that whether or not our treasure is really in heaven is most clearly seen when it costs us our earthly treasures in order to obtain it. But American Christians live in the most prosperous nation in world history and the one in which it costs the least to be a Christian.”
“This environment can be deadly to faith. It allows false faith to masquerade as real faith very easily. And its power to dissipate zeal and energy and mission-focus and willingness to risk is extraordinary because it doesn’t come to us with a whip and a threat. It comes to us with a pillow and a promise of comfort for us and our children. The former makes us desperate for God. The latter robs our sense of desperation.”
“And it’s the lack of a sense of desperation for God that is so deadly. If we don’t feel desperate for God, we don’t tend to cry out to him. Love for this present world sets in subtly, like a spiritual leprosy, damaging spiritual nerve endings so that we don’t feel the erosion and decay happening until it’s too late.”
“So we must fast and pray for and support the suffering church in the diseases that can set in from harsh adversity. But we must also fast and pray for God to deliver us from the diseases that set in from prosperity. We need him. We can discipline ourselves in various ways. But we cannot manufacture our own desperation. Only God can make us desperate for him.”
“So God, whatever it takes, increase our awareness of our dependence on you in everything! Keep us desperate for you so that the deceitfulness of sin does not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:13). In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
by Dave Brown, Director and Pastor-at-Large, Washington Area Coalition of Men’s Ministries