Saturday, December 31, 2011

God's Desires in my Life

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

This verse has always been my favorite in God's Word.  Don't misunderstand me--I love all of God's Word, even the verses that challenge and discipline me, but I always go back to this verse no matter what is going on in my life.  I cling to this verse.  However, as long as I have loved this verse, my perspective of it has changed over time.

Initially, I thought "Awesome!  God loves me, so He wants to give me everything I want!  All I have to do is faithfully read His Word and spend time with Him and I will have everything my heart desires."  I have desired a lot of things during my stay on Earth.  Some were stupid, immature, and selfish, but others were selfless, pure, and innocent.  I have desired things that were not good for me and things that I thought were good for me at the time, but turned out that God had other ideas for me.  God has allowed me to experience some of all of those categories.  He has given me the things that weren't good for me so that I would turn to Him.  He has also granted a lot of positive desires that I have held close.  He has not always given me everything I want when I want it.  God is a great, loving, and sovreign God and He knows what's best for me in His will.  Therefore, He (thankfully) does not give me everything I want.

Over time, He has taught me what that verse really means.  It does mean that He will give me what my heart desires, but as I truly and whole-heartedly spend time with Him and delight in Him, His desires eventually become my desires.  I become so intimate with my Savior that I want what He wants for my life.  Then, my will conforms to His will and before I know it, I am desiring and asking for the exact same things God longs for me to have, things that will benefit His kingdom, not just things for myself.  If I have learned one thing during my 30 years of life on Earth is that I am NOT here for myself.  I am here for others; I am here to worship God and bring glory to His Name as best as I know how, not come up with a wish list to present to Him.

I do believe that God cares about everything that matters to us, even the little things that others might think are insignificant.  The desires may actually seem selfish or not God-centered at all, but God wants to hear all of our thoughts and desires.  He knows them already, He just wants us to stay in constant communication with Him and share EVERYTHING with Him.  He wants us to include Him in every part of our lives.  God has helped me develop the discipline of taking every desire to Him, no matter how little or selfish it might seem.  When I share a thought or desire with Him, He is faithful to show me whether it was a selfish or selfless desire, whether I should have a desire like that or not.  For example, I wanted to make my husband Oreo truffles, his favorite dessert, as a Christmas gift.  We were on a budget and I had already purchased his gift, but I wanted to do something extra special for him to show him that I love him.  God placed it on my heart to make Him Oreo truffles.  He LOVES Oreos and I never make the truffles just for him.  If he gets any, he always gets the leftovers from someone else's "order."  Anyway, I had to make them on a night that he had band practice and wouldn't be home until late so he wouldn't suspect anything.  I had no idea what time he would be home and he had just started a new job and hadn't received his phone yet, so he had no way of communicating with me about his estimated time of arrival.  The practice site was about 45 minutes away, so I knew I had some time, I just didn't know how much time.  I also had to wait until Nora-Kate, our daughter, went down for bed at 8.  So, I had from 8:00 until who knows when to make the truffles and they be a secret gift on Christmas morning.

As soon as I put Nora-Kate in her crib, I raced to the kitchen to start my quest.  I got all the ingredients and equipment out and made the filling.  Then, I melted the white chocolate that coats the outside of the truffles and proceded to roll the Oreos and cream cheese into individual balls.  The only problem was that the mixture was not hard enough to stick together and, instead of rolling into little balls, the filling was sticking all over my hands.  This was not going according to plan.  I had to put the filling into the refrigerator and hope that it would harden in enough time for me to make the truffles and wash, dry, and put away the dishes and clean up any evidence I might have left behind.  When I realized that putting the Oreo mixture in the fridge was going to take up valuable time, I sent up a prayer to God.  "Father, I believe that my desire to make Josh Oreo truffles came from You.  Therefore, it is not my gift but Yours.  I would really love for the truffles to be a surprise, which means I would like to wash the dishes and clean up the evidence before he gets home.  If that is Your desire also, I pray that You would allow me to do that.  If not, I know he will still appreciate the surprise and enjoy the truffles."  I made up my mind not to get upset, but just to enjoy the thrilling challenge of making the truffles and hiding the evidence before he got home from band practice.  And I did.  It was fun because God was right there with me and He did allow the mixture to harden just enough for me to finish making the balls.  I had everything made, cleaned up, and put away 10 minutes before Josh walked in the door.  It was a seemingly very insignificant request that I sent up to God, but He cares about those.  He allowed me to finish my Christmas surprise for my husband.

As this new year of 2012 begins, it is my challenge to you to remember Psalm 37:4 and to include God in every part of your day, even your thoughts and conversations.  He will show up and you will be surprised by the joy and contentment His presence brings in your daily life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas 2011

God's gift to man:  JESUS

     Every Christmas, my family makes wish lists, then hands them out to relatives to use as a reference for gifts.  We have some relatives who express a very selfless and heartfelt desire to give my husband, daughter, and me exactly what we want and, if possible, everything we want.  Unfortunately (from to their perspective), like most of us, they have a budget.  It hurts them that they can't grant every desire of ours every Christmas; and not just ours, but everyone on their gift list.  They would love to be able to give everything to each one of us because they love us that much.  They have so much love for us that their only desire is for us to have everything we want.
     God has a similar love for us, His creation.  He loves us so passionately that He wanted to give us everything.  He desires to have a relationship with us, so when sin entered the picture, He chose to provide a way for us to cross the great divide and commune with Him, to know Him, and to walk with Him.  He sent His only Son, Jesus (John 3:16), to die on the cross for us.  To be beaten, battered, and scarred even though He was innocent.  To shed His blood for us and endure such an agonizing and painful death for us.  All of that was necessary for us to spend eternity with Him in heaven.  He took all of our wish lists, which Jesus was not included in, and lovingly gave us what we really NEEDED, not what we wanted.  We all need Jesus because that's all that matters in this life.  We are here to love and worship Him forever and to lead others to this amazing and sacrificial love for humankind.  
    Therefore, this Christmas, while you're reviewing your loved ones' wish lists, think about what they need instead of what they want.  Everything on our wish lists will pass away.  Nothing will go to eternity with us and nothing will remain when life on Earth ends.  Jesus is the only One Who will last forever.