Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
One of the greatest barriers to our spiritual growth is a lack of trust in the goodness of God. We have believed a distorted understanding of what it means to follow God’s will for our life. Somehow, we have gotten the idea that if we yield to the will of God, He will require us to abandon everything that we enjoy or are good at and He will make us serve in ways that are impossible for us. There is a grain of truth to this, but most of it is false.
When I was growing up, I heard a missionary speak about her experience of embracing God’s call on her life. She felt strongly that God was calling her to be a missionary, but she was deathly afraid that God would send her to Africa. She prayed, “Lord, I will go anywhere you want but Africa.” For a long time nothing happened in her attempt to pursue her call. Finally, she prayed, “Lord I will go anywhere, even Africa.” Soon after, she received a call to serve on the mission field: not in Africa.
In my devotions, I read a quote from Evelyn Underhill that made me uncomfortable. Here is part of what she said.
“So those who imagine that they are called to contemplation because they are attracted by contemplation, when the common duties of existence steadily block this path, do well to realize that our feelings and preferences are very poor guides when it comes to the robust realities and stern demands of the Spirit.
“St. Paul did not want to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He wanted to be a clever and appreciated young Jewish scholar, and kicked against the pricks. St Ambrose and St. Augustine did not want to be overworked and worried bishops. Nothing was farther from their intentions. St. Cuthbert wanted the solitude and freedom of his heritage on the Farne; but he did not often get there. St Francis Xavier’s preference was for an ordered life close to his beloved master, St. Ignatius. At a few hours’ notice he was sent out to be the Apostle of the Indies and never returned to Europe again.”
As I read this quote, all I could think was that in order to follow God’s call a person has to give up everything that they are gifted at and serve in ways that are extremely difficult for them and will make them miserable. No wonder so many people balk at the idea of turning their life over completely to God. Who wants to exchange the things that they excel at to pursue a life of laboring at things they do not?
I understand that accepting the call of God on our life will entail facing challenges that we can only endure by the power of the Holy Spirit. But following Jesus does not mean erasing who God created you to be so that you can try to be someone you are not. How does that glorify God?
The Bible is clear that God, in His grace and mercy, has endowed each of us with specific passions, abilities, and spiritual gifts. His will is that we would discover, develop, and use these qualities for His glory. Paul is very clear about this in Romans 12:6-8.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
In some way, we have made following Christ a burden to bear instead of a delight to embrace. In my experience, I have discovered that when I offer my assets to Christ for His glory, He uses them for His glory and I am energized. There is obviously sacrifice in following Christ, but it is not in the form of sacrificing who He made us to be. God’s goal is not to make our lives miserable, but fruitful. The best way for us to be fruitful is to use our abilities to full advantage for His glory.
God is not in the business of putting His children into unsuitable places so that they can prove how committed they are. God wants to put us in the place where we can be the most effective for Him and where we can experience His joy. We can trust Him with our lives.
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.