The desires of our heart can be a tricky thing. Many times they can cause a posture of thanksgiving, a testing of patience, or a strong trust in the Lord. However other times, they can consume me, confuse me, or distract me. Every now and then I tend to ask myself, “Is this my desire or did God place this want in my heart purposely?”
This morning I woke up and read a few chapters in Passion and Purity, and all of the chapters were on “the longings of their hearts.” This book is seriously incredible. Right now if I were to get the famous question, “If you could go to dinner with anyone, who would it be?” Well no doubt mine would be Elisabeth and the late Jim Elliot. I want to see their character and faithfulness to Christ in real life. They strove to be completely obedient to the Lord’s will and it encourages me to be the same. In one chapter, Elisabeth writes:
There is no spiritual growth without the process of letting go… to hold tightly to anything given us and not allow it to be used by the Giver would stunt the growth of the soul. It’s easy to make a mistake here and say, “God gave it to me. It is mine.” No it is ours to thank Him for and to offer it back, to relinquish, to lose, to trust – if we want to find our true selves, if we want real Life, if our hearts are set on glory.
I do not believe the desires in our heart to be a wrong thing. If we discern they are from the Lord, then they were in fact placed there for a reason. However it is how we handle these longings that determine what they can or will do to us. Psalms 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” It’s funny how different this verse has come to mean to me throughout the years. I used to read it when I was younger and think, “Sweet I can just love the Lord a lot and then ask Him for something and surely He will give it to me. Awesome.” Well growing older I have realized… not exactly. But thank goodness! I would have received some things that would have been really terrible for me. Instead I believe this verse calls us to look at what it really means to delight ourselves in the Lord. I believe when we are delighting ourselves in the Lord, we are truly seeking Him, faithfully trusting Him, placing Him in the middle of every part of our life. So when he tells us “Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart,” I accept this to be true. If we are truthfully delighting in the Lord, the longing for myself should lie in His will. Our desires would be the same – the desire to have what the Lord wants for me. I look to examples from the Bible and how they had such strong desires and what they did with them.
Hannah was barren and wanted a child desperately. She prayed and waited for the Lord and promised that if she had a child, he would be given to the Lord for all the days of his life. What happened – she gave birth to a son Samuel, rejoiced in the Lord, and at the right time took him to the tabernacle under the priest to be used by the Lord. Hannah had a desire and faithfully sought the Lord, trusting Him with it through all trial and temptation.
Jacob saw Rachel and he instantly knew – he loved her. He longed for her. Their love story is one of my favorites. Jacob stayed with Rachel and her family and worked in return for the marriage of her. One verse says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”(Genesis 29:20) Man what a love! I can imagine the gaze in his eyes as he looked at her. He worked and when the seven years were up, Laban, Rachel’s father, gave Jacob the older daughter instead saying she must be married first. Jacob could receive Rachel if he were to work another seven years for Laban. Seven years of waiting, an extra wife, and fourteen years of work. It doesn’t say it in the bible, but I would have to imply that Jacob had to have been seeking and trusting the Lord during this entire time. How else would he be able to work faithfully while compressing his desires for Rachel for so long?
One thing I am certain of is that our passions and desires have not changed any from now to then. As they are now, they were as strong and tempting back then too. I look to these examples as encouragement from people of the Lord who have been obedient to their Father’s will with their desires.
Lastly In February of 1952, Elisabeth received a letter from Jim. One sentence he wrote said: “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”
God has given us longings, but with those longings comes waiting and being joyful in the wait. To not pout or be upset because of things we don’t have, but to enjoy the present day, be thankful for our current circumstances, and to trust in the Lord’s plan. Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”
I am thankful for the desires the Lord purposely placed in my heart. And because of people like Hannah and Jacob and Elizabeth and Jim, I am encouraged to seek the Lord daily and wait upon Him. I will delight in the Lord with all of my heart because I want the good the Lord has for me. His good is so good. Praise be to that!