New Year Devotional: Day 2

READ FIRST: 2 Samuel 6 and 7 // Psalm 66:8-12 // Psalm 16

The beginning of any year is always infiltrated with many voices relaying the “you shoulds” and “you shouldn'ts” for the days ahead. With all the voices accumulating, it gets loud really quickly, making it almost impossible to hear God’s voice and His will is for your life. Today, we’re going to look at our own desires and what to do with them in the midst of waiting and true alignment with God’s heart.

I would be lying to you if I said that 2019 was the best year of my life. I lost many things, felt hidden in cavernous states of sadness at some points but also was met with rejoicing and experiences that I never thought I would get to live out. From this I am learning that sadness and joy are capable of being simultaneous, existing in the same space. As I look back at the days of 2019, I am realizing that my heart was in a constant state of striving–I had so many desires in my heart that I thought were God’s, too. In the moment, my desires and longings felt honest and pure. There was nothing necessarily wrong with them or blatantly sinful about them. It felt like God was so close to delivering them–that this was a part of His plan for me. However, I constricted and tried to force my heart into the shape of these molds that just didn’t quite fit. I was a shape-shifter, attempting to take the form of the desires of my heart and layer them on top of God’s desires for me. Like a really bad paper mache project, I tried to make something beautiful for God but used the wrong glue in the process. The pieces of my heart didn’t stick to God’s. I wasn’t abiding, I was striving, using the things of my own merit and strength to get somewhere. I am so thankful for a grace that buffers and refines me!

I relate so much to David in 2 Samuel 6 and 7. Especially in chapter 6, as David is doing what he thinks is the will of God, by building a house for the Lord. In chapter 6 verse 3 it says, “And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.” This subtle detail of them using a new cart to transport the house of God reminded me so much of how I use my own strength and devices to carry out the will of God. It feels like I am doing something with a pure heart, however, I am attaching my own flesh onto God’s plans for me with the intentions trying to speed up the process or get something out of it for myself. I think the most beautiful part of this passage however is God’s response to David after he makes this elaborate house for God. Take this time to read 2 Samuel 7:1-17. When I first initially read this passage, I was stuck on verse 2, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” I was initially struck by the contrast of a structure of cedar and one of canvas (the tent). The tent implies God’s ubiquity and ability to be with us in all circumstances and situations, whereas the cedar house alludes to Him being stationery and finite. Because of our humanness, our actions have an essence of our own flesh and desires woven about them. We try to make these grand gestures for God, but they end up being stationery, finite things. Our grandeur cannot compare to our Creator’s. We attach our own flesh and romanticism to who God truly is and His will over our lives, thus potentially creating an illusion that our hearts are in alignment with His.

Right now I am in the thick of pivoting and shaping my heart back after God’s–it is SO incredibly hard to unravel what God’s will is for your life and what desires align with His. It is SO hard and I want to stress that. We see it in chapter 7 of second Samuel, when God essentially asks, “Who told you to build that house? I have never lived in a house!”. He then goes forth to remind David of His steadfast love and the promises He has made to him. God reminds David that His ways are higher and FAR better than he could dream for himself. Although David’s desires are good and for the Lord, God rattles him with the truth that His ways are ultimately higher. David’s house for the Lord reflects the paper mache project. A project that was made out of pureness of heart, but is so fragile and brittle compared to the artistry of the Lord. We have to know that His strength is better as we step into the unknown of the year that lies ahead and we also have to remember that we are at war on this side of Heaven. Satan has desires for us, too, that are so easily tangled with truth and God’s true desires for us.

Here we meet in the middle of discernment, trying to make sense of our desires. I think in these moments, we face exhaustion after trying to know which way to go. Our bones ache for a sense of direction, a pulse or trajectory of how things will unfold. And sometimes it may feel like a rug we were standing on got ripped out from underneath of us, where solid ground starts to cave in. The death of desire stings tremendously and can send us to dark places. My initial thoughts as I saw my desires crumble in front of my face last year was, “God is unkind, He is secretive and only wants suffering for me, this is not what I had planned.” I am learning that it is okay to mourn the loss of our desires, to mourn the shaking ground that is shaping into something foreign and new for us. We are allowed to yell back at God. If we didn’t wrestle or challenge Him, we would never grow or mature. We must cling to the truth that alignment with the kingdom of God does not look like repressing our desires, God knows them and acknowledges them. However, we must also remember that our heart’s desires may not always align with God’s, causing us to cling to things that won’t sanctify us. Pruning is painful, but God does not abandon us in the process. In His faithfulness, we can surely see the way that He will weave all things together for good and for His glory, forming something more beautiful than we ourselves ever could have crafted.

Our desires show that we aren’t meant for this side of Heaven. Even in our deepest contentment, there will always be a lingering sense of longing. Sometimes it’s burning within us, sometimes it’s soft and subtle, just an undertone to our daily lives. But we all experience it, even if we have everything. So in the meantime on this side of Heaven, what do we do with our desires? What do we do when we lose some or gain some? What do we do with the ache of longing? How do we endure the process of pruning? Tomorrow we are going to look at David’s response to God; a response of gratitude in the midst of a change of plans and desire. All I know is that God’s faithfulness will overcome the darkness and that He desires the broken pieces of your heart to be made whole.