I find myself bringing this unnatural plea before the Lord as I realize how far I have sunk into natural habits. These past couple weeks have left me humbled by the realization of how much my life has become about serving me--making me happy and successful.
In my mind I see a healthy me in the near future, surrounded by adoring students who are eager to learn...living in ideal housing, an active part of a thriving church, growing in relationship with a man who loves the Lord and has chosen me, surrounded by true community, with time to spare on the weekends for additional socializing or exploring. Oh, and all of this is, of course, done with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm!
Are these dream bad? No. Are they realistic? Possibly. How about beneficial in the long run? Yep.
So what's the problem? ...The problem, is that they miss the whole point. Not because of the dreams themselves, but because of my heart behind them. These dreams have become my idols. My motivation and the reason I put the extra hours behind that difficult project, even if it means getting 3 hours of sleep. So I find myself quite the opposite of happy and successful. I am tired. I am stressed. Weighed down by the relentless pressure for a perfect performance. I am reciting the right answers while my heart is aching, begging for the day to return when I won't feel like I'm faking it.
But in the process of breaking my heart over how far I've strayed and the over-attention I've given to dreams that have not yet come true, God is restoring hope. He is giving me a new desire for these things, but with the right heart behind them. He is reminding me how much more beautiful dreams are when they are placed in His hands. He is reminding me that the whole point is an active relationship with Him.
He is reminding me that these dreams are nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him. When we surrender, letting go of selfish ambitions, He is free to have His way. We must not forget that God will have His way in the end--He is God, afterall. So why do we fight it? Why drown ourselves trying to swim upstream when God offers a guided whitewater trip down, full of adventure, and support through the fear, and laughter along the way?
Throughout time, people have done all they can to create a god better than God.
Isaiah 40:18-20 says,
To whom, then, will you compare God?
What image will you compare Him to?
As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot.
He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple.
The human heart--the life-beat of you, and me, and the broken girl on the corner--has always longed for stability. If we could just create, or find, the one thing that will never change or fail us, everything would be different. We would never ever go back to the things that have let us down. Right? Wrong. At least in my life, that's been wrong.
How easily I forget that the God who created my heart, so full of desire, is the creator and provider of everything I've ever wanted. His provision may not always look like I expect it to, but that's part of the beauty of it...when we let Him, He gives us what we need long before He gives us what we want.
...A friend of mine recently built a cross for me to use as in illustration with the girls in my prayer group and to it, he attached a note that reads,
"As I make this cross, I reflect on what it actually symbolizes. We wear the cross around our necks, place it in our homes, see it on walls, and never reflect on how much it means to us. The King of the world stepped off His throne, and knowingly took His place on the cross for you and I. Not simply for you to enter Heaven, but He made 'the way' for us to have a relationship with Him. The choice is ours, will we spend our lives at the foot of the cross, living in the presence of our Creator? Or will we venture out looking for something better. I choose to stay here at the cross where I am promised eternal life with God."
Eternal life starts today, right now, and God wants us to spend it with Him. No more idols. No more fuss over things that don't matter. Not blind to the desires of our hearts, but daily surrendering them to our gracious Father, trusting that He will provide what we need, when we need it.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah 40:27-31
We often miss that those beloved verses come right after those mentioned earlier in this post. We may search for something better and spend all our days and resources trying to create what it is our hearts desire, but it will never measure up to God. It will never be God.
All the striving and stress had crept in where God's peace is supposed to reign. But not today. Because of what God has done, because of who He is, my life again rests in His hands, and my heart's desires along with it.
May we recognize that He is God, and He is better. May we allow the earthly desires of our hearts to always draw us closer to our heavenly Father.