Desires of the Heart

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

For this blog post, I just want to give personal testimony of the reality of this verse, to perhaps encourage someone that might read this (as this is a testimony not of my goodness but God’s goodness and faithfulness).  But before I do that let me try to clarify what this verse does not mean, because I think it is one of those that can be dangerously taken the wrong way. What I mean is that there are selfish and sinful desires; and then there are what I call “sanctified” and godly desires that align with the desire and heart and will of God. It is those desires that are promised here. In fact when you are truly delighting yourself in the Lord (which is the condition the promise is made on), you begin to desire what God desires. Your heart becomes aligned with His. But this is not promising that if we somehow “appease” Him, He will give us “whatever” we want. He may very well “hand us over” to our own desires (Romans 1:18-32) if we persist in our selfishness and reject His conviction, but that is a different issue.

I also want to clarify that the heart is a funny thing. The human heart apart from God’s saving and sanctifying work is “deceitful and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). This is why we need God to give us a “new heart” with new desires. And this is exactly what God does for us in Christ!  God actually promised this for example, in Ezekiel 36:26-27: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” This is what happens when someone turns to and trust in and is transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

But even after that, we need to continually remain humble before God, because although we have a new heart with godly desires, we still possess our “old” sinful nature that tries to exert it’s selfish desires. So we need to say as the Psalmist did: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24). Scripture also exhorts us: “Above all else guard your heart, for out of it flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus also warned that there are those who the “desires for other things” choke the Word of God from bearing fruit in their lives as intended (Mark 4:19).

That all said and out of the way; let me share about God’s goodness to fulfill the desires of our heart, when we delight ourselves (give ourselves wholly and joyfully) to and in Him!

When I was in eleventh grade of high school a girl I did not know walked into my math class. Immediately I was smitten and it was like “I knew” I would one day marry her. I prayed so hard that semester to be seated next to her the next semester (we were on other sides of the room) and muster up the courage to talk to her. The next semester I was actually seated right behind her and I actually mustered up the courage to stand in front of the class one day and do my best “Gladiator” (favorite movie at the time) impersonation specifically to try to impress her (it actually worked and got her attention!). It all started from that day and we did actually begin to talk on the phone and date for a short time. However, I wasn’t “delighting” myself in the Lord at that time or living for Him and everything (including that relationship) fell apart and I was devastated and depressed. About a year or so later my desire to be a major league baseball player (I was obsessed with baseball) was also coming to an end and I was again depressed.

However, it was that summer that my life began to change, because God began to draw me back to Himself and I eventually surrendered my life entirely to Him. It was at that point that God began to redirect my desires and also began to grant me some of the desires of my heart!

For example, actually because of and after the tragic death of my closest (and first real spiritual friends) at the time; that girl from high school came back into my life. She began to come to the bible study that that friend and I had started. This time however, I was “delighting” myself in the Lord (and that actually attracted her more to me!). Not long after we began dating again and ended up getting married (and now we have four kids!). God worked things out (despite “bumps” along the way) where before I could not make it work apart from Him.

But there is more to that story. Had I not married her, I would not be in the role I am now in with ServeNow. And that’s because I would not have met the president of this mission organization, of whom my wife’s family has been supporters of for many, many years. I believe that God orchestrated our being married for a purpose even beyond marriage itself…a kingdom purpose…and that that purpose is now being fulfilled!

As far as baseball goes, that was a desire God redirected for a time and then removed completely. I ended up helping to coach a high school summer baseball team for two years (while attempting to be a witness to them of Jesus) and then got connected with a group of guys who played softball and would use that skill on mission’s trips in Latin America with a mission organization called: SCEI (Sports & Cultural Exchange International).  I began to play with them and go with them on various missions trips where we were able to use softball as a platform to share the Gospel with people who otherwise might not come out to a church, but would listen to a bunch of fellow softball player’s talk to them about relationship with Jesus! Whereas once I played baseball for myself in trying to find personal happiness and fulfillment, now I could use it for God’s glory and to reach others with the Only One who can truly satisfy the thirst of our souls and set us free from our bondage: Jesus Christ!

But I have to also share something “special” that God did that He really didn’t have to do, but I think is just His heart and goodness. On one of those trips we played against a team that had an ex-major league baseball player playing with them that day. I was playing third base that game. And while standing there I thought “wouldn’t it be cool if he hit a ground-ball my way and I could say I threw out a major league baseball?” Well…I had my “Field of Dreams” “Moonlight Graham” moment (for those who know the movie). He actually did hit a ground-ball my way that game and I threw him out at first!  From that point on I have had no desire for (and don’t even watch anymore) baseball or even sports in general!

Well, I also had a desire to pastor a small church and see God change people’s lives and awaken them to fellowship with God and a greater hunger for Him and His word. The last six years I was able to pastor a small church and see those realities occur in several people’s lives.

I have also had a desire for missions and now I will be able to be more involved in serving people in various ways in several parts of the world, in many cases getting the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard it better.

I have had a heart for those in danger of human trafficking and now will be able to be involved with some projects that will help prevent some from being swept up into that evil.

I have had a desire to “Make the dreams (God-given) of others come true” and now in this new role, I will be able to be a part of seeing that happen.

I have had a heart for India for years (India was the first mission trip I went on) and India is the country ServeNow primarily works in.

I also remember having such a strong desire to go to Myanmar (Burma) after they got slammed by cyclone Nargis and miraculously God not only opened a door to go, but connected me with a contact that I have been able to revisit and will be doing some ministry with again in a few months!

I also had a desire to have girls.  In fact (funny story) when my middle brother was born, (I was about 4 or 5), I wanted a sister.  My parents had the name “April” picked out if it was a girl.  Well, when I was told that I had a baby brother, I said: “Well, I will call him April until he turns into a girl!”  That still hasn’t worked.  But my first two children were girls.  My wife had a desire for sons and our next two were boys!  And in that case, like many others, God did something that I didn’t even realize I had a desire for but am thankful He did!

And lastly, (for this blog post anyway!), I took a few classes my freshmen year of high school in “Elementary Education” as I considered becoming an elementary school teacher. Well, I realized that as I write this that desire is being fulfilled in helping my wife to organize, teach and home-school our girls this year!

There are many more desires fulfilled that I could speak to in more detail, but my point in sharing these things is just to testify to the goodness and faithfulness of God, His word and His promises to perhaps encourage someone else. As 2 Corinthians 1:20 says: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” If you delight yourself in the Lord He truly will give you and satisfy in you, the desires of your heart. He is the “water of life” the very spring and source of eternal life. He is life…real life…itself…and that life is all found in fellowship with Him.

One more thing.  I honestly wonder if I would be alive today, had I not surrendered my life to Christ and come to know the joy, purpose, meaningful, life, hope and just fulfillment that is found in Him and doing His will.  There is no greater joy than fellowship with Him, willing obedience, wholehearted submission and surrender to His will. This very place that so many are so afraid to go…is the only place of true freedom and life that satisfies. Many stay where it is “safe” and they can still be “in control” or we try to satisfy our desires with substitute and counterfeit things. But until you truly submit your life to Jesus Lordship and Leadership you will not know the life and power and fellowship there is in Him.

I would encourage you to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but acknowledge Him in all your ways, for He will direct (make straight) your paths” as Proverbs 3:5-6 promises. God is faithful and God is good. The question is will you trust His goodness and submit your life and ways entirely to Him, delighting in Him and trusting in Him?

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