I was only half-listening to a TV commercial the other day when I recognized the background music as the familiar Spice Girls song from 1996, which begins:

Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want;
So tell me what you want, what you really really want…
I wanna, wanna, wanna, wanna really really really wanna…

The message is not really clear after that, though it’s obvious that it’s meant to be sexually suggestive. That feel, plus the catchy beat, is what made the song so popular in its day.

However, a closer look at the lyrics shows that what the girl in the song is looking for is a genuine caring relationship with a young man who loves her as a whole person. She says, if you want to be with me, you’ve got to learn to “give and not just take.” And you’ve “gotta get with my friends.” In fact, “If you wanna be my lover, you’ve gotta make it last forever.” That’s what she really really wants.

Thinking about this led me into a curiosity chase on the internet to see how many popular song titles include the word want. There are easily 200 or more. Here are some samples: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (Of course!), “I Want You to Want Me,” “I Want You So Bad,” “I Want a Woman,” “I Want to Be Loved,” “I Want It All,” “All She Wants Is Love” and “I Only Want to Be with You.”

You’ll notice the prevalence of the word I. Also, you can see that the emphasis is consistently on wants, rather than needs. Your needs are really quite basic: food air, water, shelter. Your wants, on the other hand, can seem infinite.

The failure to make this distinction, and focus on your needs rather than your endless wants, can create great frustration. James talks about this in his New Testament letter:

Your cravings are at war within you. You want something, and you do not have it…You covet something, and cannot attain it…You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasure [King James Version: to consume it upon your lusts].” (James 4:1-3)

Here’s a key verse from the Psalms I’d like to share with the Spice Girls and today’s young people on their quest for fulfillment:

Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Notice how giving yourself to this relationship with God offers to you the qualifications the Spice Girls put on finding what they really really want:

  • Give and don’t just take – Your relationship with God is a two-way love affair: you “take delight in him,” and he gives you the “desires of your heart.”
  • You gotta get with my friends – Being embraced by the worshiping community of faith can be a profound reassurance, when you feel rejected in life.
  • If you wanna be my lover, make it last forever – No lover but God can promise you that.

There’s an added bonus: he knows what the true desires of your heart are. You don’t. You just keep trying to figure out what you really really want. He created you in his image, and he knows exactly how to fit his blessings into your empty places.

Isn’t it about time that you stop your frantic quest for what you really really want and begin to take him at his word?

Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

— Pastor George Van Alstine