Have you ever thought that the things that bring YOU joy, are actually the things that the Lord has given you the DESIRE for?
Right now I am enjoying classical music while I write this blog post. Tonight I'm alone in the house filled with the scent of Christmas and twinkling lights and all is quiet. I LOVE my family, but this right now brings me JOY... and it's what I needed at this moment. The Lord knows our hearts and believe it or not, He wants to bring us joy.
I want you to go back in time and think about the things that brought you JOY as you were growing up. Well, maybe you still are young... but for me at almost 50 it's hard to think back and really remember what I LOVED waaaaaay back in those "olden days" you know... the 1970's. (hahaha) But I do remember one.
I'm not talking about what games you played or the kids you hung out with. What were you GOOD at? What INTERESTED you? I want to ask you another question. Do those things that you loved to do as you were growing up still bring you joy? Or did they get lost in "REAL" life.
I'm going to argue in this blog post that those things that brought you JOY were God-given desires, put there by God for a REASON.
Remember when we were kids and we had DREAMS. All sorts of dreams, right? When the astronaut came to school, we dreamed about going to space. When we watched the olympics we dreamed about being a famous tennis player that would travel the world. Some were definitely fantasy, but some were actually dreams we REALLY wanted. I wanted to SING. I wanted to be a Christian artist like Amy Grant! I sang every chance I could get and it brought me total joy. Did I pursue it... NO. You want to know why? (I'm revealing secrets here... but the truth is two-fold.) There was a girl at my church that was an AMAZING singer and I didn't think I was that good. So, when a vocal group came to church to hold try outs, I chickened out. That girl was trying out so why bother... is what I told myself. Oh if I could have talked to my younger self and told her to pursue those God given desires and just GO FOR IT! Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my life and I'm so blessed to be right where I am in life. But it makes me wonder how many other people are passionate about something and yet don't think they can go after it because they... well fill in the blank... I'm sure there's so many reasons why people don't go after their DREAMS.
But how do we get past the fear and doubt to hear the Lord speak LIFE into our dreams?
I think it's in LISTENING. This last year or two as my faith has deepened and as I have spent more time in His Word, I have learned to "be still" and listen.
I've being learning to LISTEN to God's voice.
Proverbs 12:15 says: "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man LISTENS to advice.
We all know it's wise to listen to advice. We talk to friends, family, etc... when we need help. We seek council and talk and talk and talk to everyone who will listen to us go on about our situation. But are we seeking council and LISTENING to the One who loves us the most and is THE most important one to hear from?
The number one way to hear God's voice is through His Word. He speaks to us through His Word and that should always be our starting point.
"If you want to hear the heart of God, silence is KEY. If you want the Spirit of God to fill you, be still." Mark Batterson, in his new book "Whisper" talks about the power of the WHISPER of God.
How AWESOME is that... that God wants to speak to US! That He speaks to us through divine appointments and in His divine (a.k.a. perfect) timing. That God is preparing us... God is ordering our footsteps... God is working ALL THINGS together for good for those who love Him. Think about that for a minute. How exciting is that to ponder? I know in my own life how REAL this is. It still blows my mind that He ordered our steps to go on a crazy road trip from California to Michigan... so that He could stir our hearts in COLORADO!
But that's REAL and that's pretty incredible that the God who CREATED the heavens and the earth wants to speak to us.
THINK about that...
Colossians 3:2 says: "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."
Yes, the Lord knows we have things to do... every day we have "earthly things" to think about. But what He's talking about here is getting us to a place in our lives where we THINK FIRST about what the Lord wants to say to us... what the voice of God wants to tell us. Because God wants to speak to YOU. And He has ways in which He does that.
In "Whisper" Mark Batterson talks about the 7 "love languages" that God speaks to us through. (Here's where I plug another Mark Batterson book... yes, next time I promise to read a book by someone else...) But his new book is so relevant to my life right now and I would bet it would be for you too.
Today I want to focus on just one of those "love languages" that Mark says God speaks to us through.
This love language is called:
Yes, you heard that right...
"Take Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the DESIRES of your heart." Psalm 37:4
And according to C.S. Lewis he thinks "Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak."
Now don't get me wrong... there are the wrong kinds of desires and I think we all know what those are. I'm talking about the God given desires that HE put in us.
Did you know the first emotion in the book of Genesis is God stepping back from His Creation and taking DELIGHT in it? In His handiwork! He delights in what He does so why would He want anything less for us? Don't you think He would want us to take JOY in what we do for our lives as well?
There's a story in Chapter 6 of "Whisper" that just got to me and I want to share it with you.
I'm paraphrasing but here goes...
In the 1930's this mom takes her daughter to the doctor because she's worried her daughter has a problem b/c she will never sit still. Now days that would be considered ADHD, but back then the doctor took a look at her daughter and then made the most remarkable discovery. He put the daughter in a room with a radio, and sure enough... the girl couldn't sit still. She got up and danced around the room and wouldn't sit down. He told that mom this: "Your daughter isn't sick. She doesn't have a problem. She's a dancer. Take her to dance school." That girl became one of the most celebrated ballerina's in all of England!
God PUT that desire in that little girl FOR A REASON. Not for someone to squelch it, not for a school to subdue it, not for this world to say "she's not normal" and certainly not for someone to tell her to sacrifice her desires for a mundane existence.
I want you to think about that little girl for a moment.
What is it in your life that you take PLEASURE in? What desires did the Lord put in your heart? They are there for a reason and I think we can say they are HOLY desires because in them God wants to show you how GREAT His love is and what He can do THROUGH them! He wants us to DELIGHT in HIM. To take PLEASURE in the things that He has given us a DESIRE for!
So if it's music, then make music. If it's building things... then build them! If it's helping people, then serve. If it's painting and being creative, then BE AN ARTIST. "What's the point in trying to be who you aren't. If you succeed, you is who you ain't, and you ain't who you is. You're actually less like the person God designed you and destined you to be." Mark Batterson
Oh all these words would have made my grandmother squirm!
I don't want to throw my "Oma" under the bus... but I'm afraid they got it wrong a couple generations ago. I think the church felt that if we got PLEASURE out of something that is was sinful. And desires... well that was just too much, you couldn't even talk about that! But what a terrible way to live. (No wonder all those black and white photos of our ancestors show no smiles whatsoever ;)-
Like Mark says... "God Himself would fail that test. He HAD JOY... He took DELIGHT in what He CREATED... and that gave Him PLEASURE."
Pleasure isn't a bad thing... it's a gift from God! Remember that verse from above...
Psalm 37:4 "Take Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the DESIRES of your heart."
God delights in what He does, and He wants nothing less for us. He wants us to delight in His CREATION. He wants us to delight in one another. And above all, He wants us to delight ourselves in Him!
So for those of you just starting out in the real world and trying to decide "What do I do with my life?"
Here's the thing...
Life is too short to not love what you do!
In the book "Whisper" Mark says "the key is finding the place where your gifts and desires overlap." I LOVE that!
God has given each of us gifts and abilities and desires....
What are they? I don't know what they are for you, but take some time to WRITE THEM DOWN. Pray over them.
One of my all time favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make straight your paths."
Here's what I'm going to boldly tell you to do:
#1. Seek God first. He created you and He loves you. Trust that He will take care of things... even when you don't understand it all yet. He's going before you and will work things out.
#2. Delight yourself in the Lord... and have HOLY desire.
Romans 12:6-8 talks about our different gifts and Paul tells us to use our God given gifts in the pursuit of God-ordained desires.
#3. Talk to Him. Pray.
Jesus asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" in Luke 18:41. He wants to know what we want, so tell Him.
#4. LISTEN. Then write down what He is speaking to you. It's God's love letter to you.
Then go pray the bravest prayer you've ever prayed and go out there and be the person God is calling you to be!
DARE to be that person.
It will bring YOU joy... and It will bring the one who LOVES you the most...GREAT JOY, because He put those desires there in the first place.
I shared this quote a while ago and it came up on my feed on FB this morning, so I thought it was worth repeating here.
Hugs to all,
P.S. I finally figured out how to splice together two videos!! (I know, it's not that hard but hey...) So tomorrow I will post my process video on the Art Journal I made last week.