Discovering Joy in the ‘Desiring’ Journey
Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires (Ps. 37:4).
I once thought Ps. 37:4 meant that all my “Gimme, gimme, God…” prayers would be answered.
Gimme a new bike!
Gimme that person as a friend!
Gimme a good grade!
But what about when I didn’t get that coveted new bike? That new friend? That desired grade? What then?
Did I chalk it up as God’s failure to please me or His lack of love? My lack of faith?
Too often, I held my dreams with clenched fists–too afraid to let go, fearful they would slip away. And I prayed that way, too–this child’s chubby grasp holding tightly to desires as I shook them at God in supplication.
Gimme, gimme, God. Please…
Yes–for years I begged this way, and for years, I felt as though my prayers fell short–the answers my heart often thought it desired rarely realized.
So I grew up a little and discovered that maybe, as a child, I’d been reasoning like a child. Didn’t Paul say it best?
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I [grew up] I put away childish things… (I Cor. 13:11).
Thus, I shelved this interpretation of Ps. 37:4–having discovered that, most often, things just didn’t work out the way I’d perhaps hoped. But my “Gimme, gimme, God” prayers went seemingly unanswered, not because God didn’t love me, but because He did and their fruition wasn’t His best.
Thus, I reasoned with a bit more maturity–it’s not that God isn’t real but my prayers are too often wrong.
Thankfully, I chose to alter my prayers and hold on to my faith as I stepped into some painful experience; because what I’d wanted most in life was to be a mom, but no matter how many “Gimme, gimme, God” prayers I might have prayed, a baby just wasn’t born.
Then one day, God said, “Loosen your grip.”
“Loosen the death grip on your dreams.”
Oh, but how, God? I’m too afraid.
And wasn’t it just like Him to help me do what I didn’t think I could? One by one, God helped pry open my fingers, until what I held up weren’t two clenched fists with a death grip on a dream but two open hands, offering the dream back to Him.
Yes, God helped me learn to pray His will, not my own.
At first, my feeble prayers often sounded like this–“I need help. Please give me the desire to relinquish my dreams to You, God. But where I’m not yet willing, please–make me willing.”
Over time, however–concerning most things–I was able to say the words of Jesus.
Not my will, but Yours, O God (Mark 14:36b).
Eventually, I was able to hold up the dream for children to my Father who I believed loved me best. Loved me most. And He knew what was best for me. I believed that.
And what I found was not empty, closed hands but hands full–held open with the dream, trusting God enough to fulfill my desires in His time. In His way.
I came to better understand that taking delight in Him meant spending time with Him–in His Word and in prayer. Only then would He make His will known to me–as He planted His Dream Seeds in my heart, making His desire for me my desire for me.
He birthed the dreams He had for me as part of His perfect plan, and I, in turn, began to desire these very things. That is what Ps. 37:4 began to mean–not that God would ‘gimme’ what I wanted for me but what He wanted for me. He helped me desire what He already knew was best.
And now, more than twenty-one years later–with three beautiful children in my brood–I still believe this is what the Psalmist David means. Less, “Gimme, gimme, God…” prayers with clenched fists but hands held up, open to God–ready to receive His best.
I’m learning even more.
Yes, after all these years, God is still teaching me, His child–because He knows that, sometimes, I still speak like a child, understand like a child, think like a child. I evidently haven’t entirely put away all childish things.
You know why?
Because, as Paul goes on to say, I still see in a mirror dimly. I don’t yet see Him face to face (I Cor. 13:12).
And while here on earth, there are still some dreams I hold on to that, if I resorted back to my toddler-tantrum times, would cause me to cry out selfishly, “Gimme, gimme, God….” Because some things I still don’t understand. Some dreams are yet unanswered, even though I’ve felt much of my life–having prayed for and about them with yielded hands, up and open–that God was the giver of the dreams, that the desires originated from Him.
And yet, they go unfulfilled. The dreams are still held up and open to Him, after all these years.
Why? I ask.
Perhaps Ps. 37:4 means even more. Perhaps that’s what I’m discovering.
It doesn’t mean that God will answer all our “Gimme, gimme, God” prayers, though God does plant His Dream Seeds within us as we delight in Him, birthing His dreams in us to be fulfilled in His perfect time.
Perhaps sometimes He allows the desires to be born, yet remain unfulfilled. “…He will give you your heart’s desires.” But David says nothing specific about God fulfilling them, and this is a new revelation for me.
Maybe what God wants most is that we simply desire.
Because desiring the things of God, even when dreams don’t translate into tangibles, causes us to press deeper into His heart. To trust Him more. To love Him better. To discover His presence in the midst of our longing, in the absence of fruition.
Oh, the poor reflection I yet see. But one day..
One day I’ll no longer see in part but in full. I’ll know, just as I’m already fully known.
So I shelve another childish thing and snuggle deeper into the heart of my Father, my Abba–yes, my Daddy–delighting in Him there, even in this still distorted life, learning more of Him.
And I discover, once again, that there can be joy in the journey–even in our desiring–simply because the path always leads us to Jesus.
Whom have I in Heaven but You? And there is none upon the earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:25–NKJV).