Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Heart's True Desire

            “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  (Psalm 37:4) 
            I used to think - hope - that this meant that God would bring us the things that our hearts desired.  If we desired stability, we would get stability.  If we desired marriage, we would find a spouse.  If we desired success, we would be successful.  If we wanted happiness, we’d be happy. 
            But this is simply not the way it is.  We don’t always get the “desires” of our heart.  People don’t always get the much hoped-for child, the healing, the stable home-life, the job, the house.  So how am I to understand that verse?  I mean, if I didn’t get what I desired then I would have to wonder if there was something wrong with my faith or the way I asked or if I was displeasing to Him.  If I wasn’t getting what I desired, was it Him or was it me?       
            Our search for the things that delight us can become more than just desires and wants.  They can become idols, something that consumes us, that we focus all of our energy on.  And this will negatively affect our emotions and our spiritual lives. 
            When we were desperately waiting for God to bring us a house so that we could get our family of 6 out of the two-bedroom rental (which became a one-bedroom rental because of mold), we had to wait on Him for a loooooong time.  I was desperate to hear from Him, to sense His leading, to see Him move mightily and clearly in our situation.  Yet, for years, I got silence.  Deafening silence!  Even as my husband and three older boys slept on the downstairs floor next to the moldy playroom while I slept with the new baby in the boys’ bunk-bed (since our bedroom also had mold) for about nine months, I still heard silence.  Nothing!  And it broke my heart, my pride, my self-esteem, and my confidence in everything.  And it nearly broke my faith completely.  Didn’t He say we would get the desires of our heart?  What happened?  What went wrong?  All I really wanted was a safe, comfortable home for my family.  But all I got was silence and more heartache.
            But looking back, I realize that my desire for a house, for an answer from Him, had become an idol.  I wasn’t pursuing Him as much as I was pursuing His help and what He could give me. 
            But through the trials and the silence, God was pruning me of so many things that interfered with my relationship with Him, things that I didn’t even know were there.  He pruned me of fears, doubts, misconceptions, agendas, plans, dreams, pursuit of idols (a house), confidence in myself, and my sense of self-sufficiency. 
            And as I began to see things more clearly, to pursue Him in a new and more passionate way, and to want Him more than just what He could give me, I began to see that verse in a new light.  (I’m not sure how theologically accurate it is, but it makes sense to me.)  I began to read it this way:  It’s not that He would give us what our hearts desired, but that He would give our hearts the desires that they should have.  He would purify our desires so that we end up desiring the things that He wants us to have. 
            If we delight in Him! 
            Oh, light bulb!  We will find the true desires of our heart when we delight in Him.  I always missed that part of the verse.  “Delight yourself in the Lord . . .”  Delight yourself in Him first and then He will give you the desires of your heart.  I always went right to the part that said I’ll get what I want.  And I wanted my way so badly.  I really did!  I wanted a home.  I wanted a big garden.  I wanted the answers and the assurances.  I wanted to be out of those trials.  But I was looking for delight in all the wrong places.   
            I was running after idols, not delighting in the Lord.  And having any idols is an automatic wall between us and God.  It will take our focus from Him and ruin our ability to hear Him, to feel and enjoy His presence, and to appreciate His blessings.  And so it was necessary for God to reveal this to me before I could get into a proper relationship with Him.  No wonder I wasn’t getting what my heart desired.  It was desiring things that would not bring true joy and fulfillment.  Because true joy and fulfillment can only be found in Him. 
            And I think that when we trim away all idols and frivolous pursuits and temporary pleasures, we will find that delighting in the Lord is the true desire of our heart.  Nothing else can measure up to finding delight in Him.  And once we find our delight in Him, no difficult circumstance or trial can take that joy and peace away from us.  Yes, life will be hard and we will hurt.  But delighting in Him will fulfill us in a way that nothing else can.  And our heart will be joyful.         
            During the trial and the long wait, the Lord knew something that I didn’t.  That deep down, what I really desired was a closer relationship with Him.  I wanted stability not in a home, but in Him.  A deeper, more stable relationship with Him.  A greater understanding of what “walking by faith” meant.  Contentment as I learned to trust Him.  And a long-overdue embrace from my Father because I had pushed Him away for so long while living in self-sufficiency, fearful of being in need. 
            I didn’t even realize that these were the real desires of my heart until I let God prune away the false ones.  If He had stepped in to grant my request when I got to the complaining stage or the depression stage, I would have missed out on the more important, fulfilling blessings.  I may have gotten what I thought I wanted from Him, but I wouldn’t have gotten Him.     
            And so He waited long enough for my deeply entrenched fears, doubts, and negative self-views to resurface.  He waited until I was scared enough, tired enough, and broken enough to admit that I couldn’t do it on my own, that I wasn’t as in-control, self-sufficient, capable, and confident as I thought I was.  He waited until I learned that I wanted to be totally dependent on Him and that I wanted to be His child, something that I had fought against for so long because of scars from my broken home life.  He waited until I learned to seek the comfort of His embrace, just for the sake of being close to Him and held by Him.  He waited until I humbled myself.  He was waiting all along for me to realize that the only thing that would really satisfy me was more of Him!  Just more of Him! 
            To someone with abandonment and self-esteem issues because of my mom’s divorces and never really having a relationship with my biological dad, it felt like a risk to fall on God in neediness, helplessness, and utter dependency.  But when I did, there was a great sense of relief and peace to learn that He was there to catch me.  That I really did matter to Him!  How interesting to me that admitting our neediness, helplessness, and dependency actually leads to greater security and stability!  After twenty-three years of being a Christian, I had finally found delight in a secure relationship with my Heavenly Daddy . . . my heart’s true desire!