What was on your mind when you woke up this morning? When you laid your head on the pillow last night? Was it something you strongly desire or something you dread? Or perhaps an endless list of to-do items? Do your desires have to do with your expectation of others? It’s not unreasonable to have desires for good things, harmony and productivity between employers and workers, pastors and staff and church members, individuals and their friends, children and their parents and visa versa.
But problems beset us when desires become demands, and demands become idols in our lives. Idols? Yes , idols can rise up from good desires just as they can from ungodly ones. In placing demands on others that they change to our liking, it becomes an easy misstep to becoming our brother’s judge. We can become so absorbed by doing good we fail to see if those deeds are actually ordained by God.
And so it might have been with our call to move to the Bolivian mission field, at least in our sense of timing. We still feel the call to support the CMA mission in Bolivia. But there are many ways to fulfill that call. After all, it’s his mission, not mine! I was reminded recently:
Sometimes God changes our plans, but never his purpose for us.
So, we had to surrender this to God. We put it on “Abraham’s Altar” realizing that God might accept our sacrifice or, like with Isaac, present an alternate sacrifice…serving him by living in Bolivia or by spending 2-3 months each each year or by some other God-directed means. Perhaps you have dreams and aspirations that seem God ordained. Offer them to God and be satisfied with whatever he brings about. His plans are always best. Act like you believe it!
How are you to know if your desires and ambitions are God designed or a product of your own desires for recognition or comfort? It always starts with honestly asking the Spirit to reveal the motives of your heart and mind:
What preoccupies my attention?
Ask yourself what I need to have to make me happy, satisfied and fulfilled?
What brings me the most frustration, regret, anger, or disappointment?
The Apostle Paul suffered some affliction, “a thorn in his side.” Three times he asked God to remove it. After that he resigned to accept the condition as part of God’s design for him. Joni Tada Erickson sought a number of “faith healers” before coming to the same conclusion. Does God continue to reveal miracles today? I believe so. It might be an inexplainable healing like the removal of the last bit of cancer from my body. Or it might be an irritating delay on a trip that kept you from being involved in a tragic accident had you not been delayed.
We can all imagine a great number of things that would bring us satisfaction. But consider this:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… Ephesians 3:20
Whatever your desire, our God is able to bless you even more than you ask or imagine. I’m asking for relief from ongoing pain for me and others I care for. I want to walk again. God might grant that. But even if he doesn’t, I will yet trust him – because he has something unimaginably better in mind, either in this life or the next.
Ask God for your heart’s desire in accordance to his generous and loving nature, but also trust him completely for his protection and provision for you. Ask him to reveal, even good desires that might become an idol in your life, and thus keep you from his very best.