Desire and longing are in the forefront of my existence these days. The ache in my heart that makes these desires a reality is nearly always present. In this season of my life, these longings bring with them confusion and uncertainty. In reality, it has been a long journey toward figuring out these deep seated desires and seeing them come into clearer focus. This journey has taken me years; yet, I still have so much to understand.
My favorite place for processing my heart and thoughts is on the trail. Surrounded by natural beauty, peace, and silence, I have the chance to focus on the internal aspects of my life; rather than on all of the mere surfaced and external details that hoard my time. As my body rushes and works, my mind communes with God.
Recently, I had an opportunity to be alone and process these desires more fully. Allow me to share my conclusions with you. Even though they may not make complete sense, it helps me to communicate these thoughts.
Here we go.
These desires that consume me are not new. At first, the longings took the shape of a need for nature, beauty, simplicity, and serenity. I sought to fulfill those desires by daily visits to my favorite trails and watching TV shows, specifically BBC, that satisfied that longing.
For years, it was confusing trying to figure out how these longings applied to my life, so I just gave them to God to work out. I wanted God to make them into what ever image he wanted them to be. But through the years, these desires have grown into a pretty clear picture of what I want and what is possible for my life and family. They have matured to the point of causing pain in my life. The ache in my heart is almost maddening.
My fear is that the wanting of these things is bad or that God doesn't desire them for me. I worry that He just wants me to continue in misery or in this state of longing, never to see these desire brought to fruition until heaven. I tell God that I am ok waiting for these things as long as I knew they were in his plan. However, lately it’s getting so uncomfortable to wait anymore. It’s like I am in the stage of transition during labor. The birth pains are getting so close and so strong. It’s not long before birth occurs. Yet, I am aware that just like those last few weeks inside the womb are crucial for the baby’s development, so is this time of waiting important for my own development and faith.
As I progressed on the trail, trying to work out these thoughts and concerns, God reminded me of a Bible verse that has been vital to my faith life from the very beginning. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4
That was my verse during college. I was tormented for years that God would take the love of my life away from me. I was consumed with fear and even decided that I would rather live in rebellion to God than to give up Chris. This obstinate resistance only led me into the deepest depression I have ever experienced. I had very little understanding of God as father and the way he uses our desires. I feared that God would not want what I want. I thought he would make me marry someone I didn’t want to marry because God saw it as a better choice for me. At the root of these fears was belief that God was a giant "kill-joy" in the sky who took pleasure in seeing me suffer.
It was during this time Psalms 37:4 was given to me. I learned that what this scripture really meant was as long as I remained pliable and open to the will of God, no matter what it was, God would give me the desires of my heart. Why? Because when I remained open to God's leading, my heart's desire get transformed and become molded to the desires that God has for me. Basically, I start wanting what God wants. And then when our desires match, they come true.
Once I surrendered my heart to God and became pliable to his will, the depression left. However, the desire to marry Chris did not leave. In the end, this showed me that my desires are not always bad. Very often, God wants to grant us our desires, we just have to wait for them.
All of these memories came back to me during my walk. The Lord reminded me how he has worked in my past. He showed me that he is NOT more interested in seeing me suffer and unhappy, rather than blessed. In fact, the reality of my WHOLE life is proof that he desires to bless me, and that those desires years ago where not just the mere workings of my imagination, but rather the leading of the Holy Spirit.
That day on the trail, I realized that the real question I was wrestling with was this....
CAN MY HOLINESS BE ATTAINED THROUGH MY HAPPINESS?
Holiness is my ultimate goal. More than any other desire in my heart, my desire to see God face to face trumps them all. I love the teachings of the church on redemptive suffering. I have read story after story of the saints who's lives where filled with suffering and sacrifice and I wonder if my holiness will only be attained through my suffering. If God chooses to grant these specific dreams and desires will that negate all the progress I have made toward perfection? Can I be both happy and holy?
I have to believe that the answer is YES! My Lord is big enough to work his transformation in my heart AND make me happy at the same time. These desires I have are from God. I must trust that. I have allowed him to work freely in my life and heart; therefore, these desires can not be just my selfish, shallow whim. Though I may have to wait for their fulfillment, despite the pain and impatience I feel, I must hope.
So where am I know? Still longing, but hoping. Hoping for the fullness of that answer, the fullness of that gift of trust.
I delight in my God. I dream my dreams. I trust in his plan. And I hope in His goodness.
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