'God is pleased when He sees the desires in our heart, but He may say 'This is not My will for you.' "
This phrase in my Bible study devotional was so well-timed it was as if God arranged to have it there just for me.
In the 2nd Samuel study I was following, David was experiencing the same frustration as me in chapter 7:1-17. He wanted to build a glorious Temple to worship God in, utilizing all the resources and power God had given to him as king.
And God said, simply, No.
(I always knew I was kindred spirits with King David;)
It just didn't make sense. Here I was, wanting to 'give back' to God of all the good things He had given me, wanting to serve and glorify Him in a big, splendid way.
Why not? ....why no?
Yes, God is happy when our hearts sincerely desire to serve Him, glorify Him. We don't have to think, though that this automatically means He HAS to grant us our desire in order for us to actually serve and glorify Him.
After all, that's our definition of serving and glorifying God. Not His.
Perhaps, He wants me to grow in another, not so glamorous, not so easy way. Ways that are all round me, but which I don't see--or don't want to see.
Or perhaps He just wants me to learn the harder, quieter lesson of being still.
2 Corinthians 7:10 came up in Bible Study.
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."
"I don't get it." whispered the person beside me.
I plunged confidently into an explanation. After all, I understood what all the words meant. Plus, our Bible study guide even gave Peter's sorrow (Matthew 26:75) as an example of godly sorrow, Judas' sorrow (Matthew 27:3) as an example of worldly sorrow...
"I still don't get it!"
I looked back sheepishly. "Actually, I don't either."
What made Judas' sorrow different from Peter's sorrow? What exactly differentiates godly sorrow from worldly sorrow?
I think we've all experienced worldly sorrow. Did something cruel, hurtful, selfish, in a moment when we were ruled by our emotions. Felt a wave of remorse and self-reproach when we realize what we've done: I can't believe I did/said that.
How could I have done that?
And soon, I can't forgive myself!
The sorrow itself is not what's wrong--we ought to sorrow for our sin.
But worldly sorrow focuses on ourselves. I thought back to all those times I'd experienced that dirty, can't-forgive-myself type of remorse--and the truth was, the main reason why it had felt so bad was my pride. Yes, of course to some extent it was the fact that someone had been hurt because of what I had done, and I was sorry about that. But mainly, I was horrified that the nice, presentable Me I believed I had been all along, had done that.
It was all because I'd made the mistake of doing this. If I hadn't, everything would still be fine, I would still be that Nice Person. And because of that, I felt I couldn't forgive myself. I had ruined my self-created identity/image as a Nice Person, for good. That thought was devastating, because there was no hope, no way to press the Undo button, no way to ever be that Nice Person I had once been, again. I couldn't respect and love myself the way I used to anymore. Maybe we find it easier to gloss over the petty everyday sins, because everyone else does them too; and perhaps, only wake up when our sin actually stuns us, only then see that we're irrevocably corrupted.
I think that when Judas realized the full weight of what he had done--murdered an innocent man (an exceptionally good and blameless one at that, as even those who didn't believe He was the Christ admitted) for the sordid reason of thirty pieces of silver--he felt the same way.
Overwhelmed by horror at himself. Unable to cope with the revelation that he was hopelessly and irrevocably a sinner. I can't forgive myself.
And that was the main difference that I saw between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. You mourn, too, for the hurt you have caused that can't be undone. But you're not devastated by the I-Can-Never-Be-A-Nice-Person-Again thunderbolt--because you know that you were never a nice person in the first place. Because that was why God had to send Jesus. That was why we could never be reconciled to God on our own. That is why we keep sinning.
With this humility comes hope. Not in yourself. In God's ability to forgive you when you repent, because Christ made it possible. In Christ's ability to change you, to make you more and more like Him--the Perfect Person.
'Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.'
What is the greatest desire in your heart--right now--as you read this verse?
This verse is special to me--it's the verse more than one person has given to encourage me about the future.
It fascinated me. What exactly does it mean, anyway? A formula to get God to give me what I want?
I think there's a reason why this verse was phrased this way. Not 'IF you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart...'
Delighting in the Lord comes first. It stands alone in itself, a command: Delight yourself in the Lord.
--not so much the product, not the ends after the means, but more like a subsequent consequence--
'He will give you the desires of your heart.'
First delight in God. Learn to find your joy in Him, in what He is and Who He is to you. You will love Him better and understand Him better when you do, because He is a good God with much to be joyful in. As Stephen Charnock said: "It is not [God's] greatest pleasure to show His sovereign power, or His inconceivable wisdom, but His immense goodness, to which He makes the other attributes subservient." (emphasis mine)
Maybe because our desires will then no longer harm us by distracting us from Him. Which could be (and probably would, whether we got what we wanted or not) if our joy was in them and not in Christ.
Maybe because when our joy is in Him, our desires, too, are changed, aligned to His desires for us--which are the best for us, and so will surely come true.
So yes, the desires of my heart must not replace You. They must not become what relates me to You, making You a sort of vending machine that will give me a Coke if I put enough coins in. They mustn't become what defines You or Your goodness. Whether or not He gives me what I want shouldn't be what makes God God, or what makes Him good.
The desires of my heart have to come second. The joy of having them fulfilled mustn't be the main joy I'm living for, praying for. They have to come second, but they will come--You have said so.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are