A dear friend of mine, my kindred spirit, recently told that I show her that ” if we are persistant with what God wants us to do with life then we will get the ‘desires of our heart’… because then our desires for ourselves will match with his desires for us.” I got to thinking about this and I really don’t know how I do that. I’m glad that she saw that in me but I can’t see it in myself.
I got out of bed tonight while Jake was sleeping because I was feeling unsettled. Not physically, spiritually. I have been thinking a lot about a friend I’ve had for a while, the closest friend I’ve ever had that doesn’t know Jesus. My heart has been aching for her and I have been so conflicted. Galatians 5:17 says it perfectly “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” My spirit want’s so bad to share the hope I have in Jesus with her, but my flesh so badly doesn’t want to for fear of the unknown, more awkwardness, the wrong words and so much more. So much and yet I know that Jesus is SO much bigger than all those fears.
Anyway, I got out of bed to come look up some reviews on a book I want to give her and to open my Bible for the first time in who knows how long and try to figure something out. As per usual (is that proper grammar? who cares) I got stuck on facebook instead of looking up reviews, or more importantly, reading my Bible. I think God actually used my facebook addiction tonight. 🙂 I was up late enough to do one last run through of: check bruinmail, check facebook, check gmail. This is when I saw what my friend said, and what prompted me to actually go open my Bible.
I got Psalm 36 in my head and decided it must be from God so I opened it up. You should read it, but it talks about our sinful pride and how we think we’re so great we can’t even see our sin and wrong ways. It then goes on as a familiar (to church folks) song “your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies…” and so on. It exalts God for his love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice. I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between our total depravity and God’s perfection. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my friends words about seeking God’s desires as our own.
I then decided I would look at Philippians because it’s one of my favorite books of the Bible. In flipping through for Philippians I stopped off at James because I apparently like it (the whole book is highlighted or underlined in my Bible!) I started with the first chapter (a very good place to start) where verses 2 – 18 stuck out to me (click the link and read it 🙂 )
Let me give you a little back ground on where I’m coming from on this thought process. If you’ve talked to me recently you know about Dave Ramsey :). I admit openly that Jake and I are a little crazy about his money plan. We are on a debt-payoff, savings and essentially wealth building plan that requires a very strict way of living now to have a better future. “Live like no one else, so that later, you can live like no one else” says DR. So this plan requires that Jake and I have little spending money, a very strict food budget and have to save every penny. It is a good plan, we like it, but it can be hard at times. What gets us through the “but I really really really want to buy that” phases is thinking about what we will have later on, when all our debts are paid off, when we have a house, are saving for retirement and have more income to buy our wants as well as our needs.
So this is the problem. I start reading “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” a familiar verse, I have it memorized, nothing new. I start to think about how “hard” life is right now (even though I have nothing to complain about in the world, Jake and I are in a very good financial position and our marriage is great, both healthy, etc). I think about all the trials I am going through and I think that I all I need to do is persevere so it can “finish its work so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? It then goes on to speak of wisdom.
Jake and I recently listened to a sermon my pastor did on spiritual gifts, one of which is wisdom. Jake and I both felt like the gift of wisdom was something we had been gifted with (my mom has been telling me this since I could talk) but that it just needed to be cultivated more. Verse 5 says to ask God for wisdom and he will give it generously. I think “why haven’t I done that?” “why don’t I do that?”
Verses 9 – 10 say “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.” Verse 13 says “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” Here is the kicker, verses 14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” And then another, verses 16 – 18 “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
This is when I start feeling like captain obvious and where what my friend said really comes into play. In this one (I know there are more, but this is the one at the fore front currently) area of my life, my desires do not line up with Gods. This financially plan is a great plan in and of itself, but my own sinful, selfish and disgusting desires for wealth and things and pleasure taint the good that it could be. I look at verse 18 and how it says that we are the first fruits of what God created. We are the best that he created, and all I can think about is keeping my first fruits. Jake and I tithe, and we know that what we have is Gods, given to us to steward. This is a helpful attitude, and is a right attitude. But my sin nature seems to always be able to sweep in and swipe my focus off of giving back to God the best of what I have, and focus it on giving me the best I can give me.
I am told in verse 13 what will happen to me if I keep down this path, desire leads to sin, sin leads to death, I know that. Thanks to the cross I know that doesn’t mean eternal death, Jesus paid that price for me 2000 years ago. I am God’s first fruit, made in his image, he will freely give me wisdom if I just ask, he is a loving father who brings me through trials to teach me and love me so I am “not lacking anything.” What grieves me is that I have not made it a priority to match my desires to his.
I am not saying that building wealth is bad at all. Jesus talked about money a lot and I believe it is very important to be building wealth for the right reasons. What I need to do is repent when I start to covet things in magazines or store windows. I need to repent when I start dreaming of all the wonderful things I could have with the money that we will have. What my focus should be on is giving it to God. I’m not saying I am completely selfish in this either, I LOVE giving. But I need to move beyond convenient giving. Jesus told of the widow who gave one coin and the rich man who gave many, the window was the one praised by Jesus for her giving even though it was less. The window gave, and it hurt. She gave out of what she didn’t have. I believe that even if you “have” you can give so much that you can really notice.
I’m not even really sure if what God is calling me to give is all purely monetary. I think that our time and energy is just as important. So I guess to sum up (maybe), I need to/am going to be praying for wisdom and for desires that match those of my heavenly Father. I am going to pray that he will show me ways to give. Even as I write that I get nervous, asking God to show you ways to do something, or how you can serve him more is not always the most pleasant of experiences. But if I am praying for his desires I guess the ways he shows me to give and serve will be as joyous for me as the will for him right? Funny how that works.
I sit here, 26 hours into 2009 and want to bad not to waste this year. I really want to pray the things I say I will pray here, I want to serve and give the way I say I want to. I want to desire God and desire his desires. So to help me do that I think I’m going to read Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper and Desiring God by John Piper (both are actually available online to read for free).
wow…that was a lot, hope it made some kind of sense, I kind of feel like it went no where and everywhere at the same time. All I know is that I definitely think I’ll sleep better now…good night