It started with a reference next to my yearbook picture.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
As a teenager this verse became my mantra. All I had to do was live for Jesus and I would have everything my heart desired, right? After all that’s what it said, “Delight…and He will give…” I thought that by choosing that verse as my caption for my picture that it was just one more way to seal the deal. “See Jesus, I am living for you and even telling everyone that I do. I can’t wait to have all of my desires fulfilled because of my obedience!”
Fast-forward three years and now I am getting married to the man of my dreams. Once again I give credit to God I’m sure to let everyone know why this worked out so well for me. My verse was beautifully printed on bookmarks that were passed out to each and every guest. “See, I am living for God and now He has given me the desire of my heart, a Godly husband. It’s all working out.” Live for Jesus = Desires fulfilled. Check!
Fast-forward three years again, and this time we are in the midst of fertility treatments which would last for five long, emotionally draining years. All I ever wanted was to be a mom. This was my desire. I was living for Jesus. What went wrong? All of a sudden, the equation was not adding. I became angry and depressed but every so often the Lord would put that verse in front of me all over again. Almost as if to say, “Do you still trust me? Are you still willing to live for me when the desires are delayed, or worse yet never fulfilled?” It was not easy. Those were some of the darkest years of my life, and sometimes it was all I could do to keep going, but Jesus did not give up on me, not for one second.
Fast-forward almost ten more years and I have become the mother of three. In-vitro was one of the hardest experiences in our marriage, but it was the tool that God used to give us three pretty amazing kids. It’s 2005. My kids are 4, 2 1/2, and a newborn. Earlier that year we moved 2500 miles from everyone we knew and loved because God was calling us into missions. Here I sat in a place I did not know, with people I did not know, with three kids to take care of. Depression set in, deep this time, with a feeling of loneliness like I had never felt before. Where was God? Why did he bring me to this place of desolation, especially after I obeyed? Where is the fulfilling feeling that is supposed to accompany that obedience? I was angry, post-pardum, and lost. Still God would gently place my verse in front of me, “You are married to a Godly man, you have three beautiful children. Isn’t this what you wanted? Isn’t this what you desired?” This is when I began to experience the shift. The shift of realizing that no matter how many desires I had, they were nothing compared to the desires God had for me. This is when I heard God say to me, “Are you ready to learn about desire?”
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Over the next ten years, as the Lord led me through truly understanding what this verse means, I began to see myself and my desires in a whole new way. I began to see Him in a whole new way. The delighting He is talking about here is not just simply “live for him” like I had been doing. It is being with Him. It is being glad to spend time with Him. It is to experience Him in the deepest parts of my heart. The Hebrew word for “delight” has a component of “being soft or delicate.” That says to me that as we delight in the Lord we need to remain soft and pliable in his hands. We don’t head into it with our own agenda, we head into it ready to receive His. And as we do we realize that His was a thousand times better.
The more I lean in to Jesus, the more I take my desires and place them in his hands, the more His desires for me BECOME my desires. The more I get of Jesus, the more I want of Him. Not what I thought would make me happy, but what I know will fill me with lasting joy.
Recently my mom introduced me to the Hebrew Picture Language. This is not a direct translation of Hebrew but lends some insight into the meaning of the word. Here are some of the words that relate to the Hebrew letters used in the word “desire.”
mem – chaos
shin – consume/destroy
aleph – ox/strength/leader
lamed – control/”toward”
hay – Lo! Behold!
Here is what I see. Desire has the ability to consume us. It is a strong emotion begging for control. If our desire is not placed on the right object it can lead to utter chaos and destruction! But when our desires come straight from the heart of God they consume us with light, with love, with peace. As his desires lead us, we are no longer grasping for control, but finding the strength it takes to let Him lead. We are moving toward greatness instead of away from it. I am still learning what this looks like. I don’t have every day figured out. But I do know where I need to go when it seems to be spiraling out of control. To the very one who is in control and in whom I find my rest.