Each student was hunched over, pencil moving across the page. The scene froze in my mind. I was teaching in a private school. Wait a minute! How did that happen? That was not on my To-Do List for life! Yet there I was. I had gotten pretty far into this stint without ever asking for it, aiming for it, even considering it. What was God up to?
We all have things that we want to do in life. Some people call it our Bucket List because they are things we want to do before we “kick the bucket.” They're our dreams and ambitions. Some of these things require resources like money, time and talent. Other things are simple but require effort and opportunity. They are on our lists because they aren't easy. The Psalmist would call these things the desires of your heart.
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give
you the desires of your heart.”
– Psalm 37:4
I'm sorry to admit that my shift to teaching fell into the neutral category. I love people, and teenagers are people, so I was good there. I love communicating and learning, and teaching is all about these things, so that was okay, too. It was the preparation and correcting and grading that neutralized the whole gig for me. The day I questioned how I got there is the day that everything changed. I was so focused on my dreams and my version of what I wanted that I had not asked God to see His To-Do List for my life. Teaching at a private school was on His list, not my list. To understand this changed everything. I realized that His list would offer more, His knowing everything like He does, and loving me so completely like He does.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but
a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
– Proverbs 13:12
It was a revelation to me, a math equation for someone who shies away from numbers:
- Take delight in the Lord (trust His goodness and intent for us) and enjoy Who He is.
- Do whatever you do, whether in word or deed in the name of Jesus and be thankful! (see Colossians 3:7).
- He will give you the desires of your heart.
Disappointment can overwhelm us, and the enemy wants us to feel that God has cheated us. Then we're tempted to look elsewhere for satisfaction, and that's where idolatry begins. We need to run from this trap. If we can understand that God has stuff for us to do, and if we can delight in those plans, whether they are on our list or not, God is glorified. When we trust that all that we do is also used to prepare us for the absolute best ultimate outcome for us, even the neutrally-gratifying things take on meaning. He is blessed when we have a good attitude. He loves our faith. As the good Father that He is, He blesses us back.
We sing songs of submission during worship almost every Sunday. “I Surrender All” or the more current “I Surrender." There has to be a song out there that says I Surrender Even If You Make Me Wait for The Desires of My Heart. God cares about your heart’s desires, but He wants to use you to do His work, too. He wants your help on His To-Do List. We're His hands and feet on earth. As we grow closer to Him, His and our desires merge. They happen alongside each other, or overlap, or actually become duplicates of one another. Only He can figure out how to make it all happen with your one lifetime. Rest assured that He's on it; that He cares immensely about your hopes and dreams. It's an adventure to see them play out in amazing ways.