If God tells you to delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), why does that sometimes include the destruction of your dreams? When the desires of your heart explode in front of your face, you can be left with soot, ashes, and pain.
Asking why is often a part of processing that messy grief. Asking why can push you to a deeper place of trusting God in the midst of such pain. And leaning on Him even more now in this difficult place can move you to an even stronger relationship with Him that leads you to change your question to what now ?
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Take a look at Psalm 37:4 in a new way:
- Delight more in Who He is than dwelling in what you want or how you feel.
- Anticipate that He is creating an even bigger, better desire in your heart.
Next, read the whole Psalm 37 chapter:
- When you don’t understand what happened to your verse 4 desires, He provides verse 5, asking again for your commitment to Him.
- He promises to make this relationship with Him shine in your broken heart (v. 6).
- He wants to calm and comfort you (v. 7-9).
- He warns you against the consequences of anger and anxiety (v. 7-8, 37)
- He has big promises for you (v. 9, 11, 18-19, 22, 29, 34, 40).
- He picks you back up, sets you on your feet and onto His path (v. 17, 23, 24, 31, 39).
- While you wait for the Lord to act (v. 34), He tells you an amazing truth to repeat to yourself: You, His follower, were not forsaken by Him (v. 28).
You can learn at a very early age that all Christians have the general purpose to live for God’s glory (Ps. 115:1; Gal 1:5; 2 Tim. 4:18).
What you may not experience until adulthood is that every individual, including you, has a distinctive mission as well. (1 Sam. 16:12; Esther 4:14; 1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 1:6-9). This unique calling can span multiple careers, opportunities, or roles; but the underlying core of what you’re to be about remains the same.
As you journey towards this long-term duty, it is good to press into your current assignment since it relates to your future fulfillment. You can use the following tips as a checklist to see how well you’re doing.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Define your current assignment. Some examples are:
- “Being a good student”
- “Developing into a godly man/woman”
- “Learning how to be an excellent spouse or parent”
- “Supporting my family going through a hard time”
- “Exercise my leadership skills”
- “Finish this season of my life well”
Prepare yourself for your future.
- Pay attention to the needs of this world that especially grab your heart
- Ask God if you could be an ambassador to help Him meet certain needs
- Learn what others are doing in the areas you feel passionate about
- Find out how you can get your feet wet
- Admit how you need to grow so that you can achieve the tasks before you
Be equipped by God.
- Get to know your natural aptitude
- Discover your spiritual gifting and have it confirmed by others
- Understand and build upon your personality without using it as an excuse
- Compare your strengths and weaknesses
- Determine if your path is career, or ministry, or some combination
Let God work on you.
- Admit your fears
- Pray for courage, strength, patience, self-discipline, and wisdom
- Confess your sins and repent
- Work on your bad habits
- Learn how to be healthy
- Practice listening and obeying God in your current situation
- Faithfully trust God for your future/final assignments
Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust. (Ps. 40:4)
Does it seem like everyone knows what they’re meant to do in life while you’re just not feeling it? Well, you’re further along in this journey than you realize; you just need to catch up to the facts.
Biblical Starting Point:
Your initial mission is completely spelled out for you: L.O.V.E. You were distinctly designed to be in a love relationship with God, and to love others. (Gen. 1:26-31; Hos. 2:19-20; Mt. 22:37-40; Rom. 6, 7, 8)
Your individualized plans have already been drawn up – you just haven’t finished learning the details: You were supernaturally customized at the beginning of time and are intimately known in heaven. Spiritual gifts and death-defying power have literally been placed inside of you. Have no doubt that your time of discovery is coming. (Ps. 139; Jer. 1:5; Hab. 1:5; Mt. 6: 33-34; Rom. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 12:11; Eph. 1:19; 2:10)
Keeping Room Tips:
- When you catch yourself walking out the door to a pity party, freeze. Instead, praise Him that through loving Him and others, He gave you a solid reason to exist. (1 Jn. 3:11, 16, 23)
- Don’t worship your calling more than the Caller. Esteem the Hero who can fight off sins in your path and blaze His trail for you. (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:24)
- While you wait to report for your specific life duty, train your character in love, humility, gentleness, patience, and faith. (Prov. 3:1-7; Eph. 4:1; 2 Thess. 1:11)
- Enjoy this treasure hunt with your divine Companion, as He reveals extraordinary clues and substantial bounty along the way towards your final destination. (1 Chron. 17:16; Ps. 138:8; Jer. 29:11-14; Hab. 2:3)
God has used Perimeter Church Worship Leader and Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Laura Story’s marriage to Martin Elvington to bring attention to the full story of His Word, His story, and His truth. As told in her book, “When God Doesn’t Fix It, Lessons you Never wanted to Learn, Truths you can’t Live Without,” Martin is Laura’s dream come true – just not the dream she created.
Early in their story when Martin began demonstrating atypical behavior, Laura cried out, “God, you’ve got to help me. Something has to change!”
After they received the diagnosis for Martin’s brain tumor, her thought was, “In the future, the brain tumor will be a great story to tell of how God brought us through it all, and we will all live happily ever after.”
The night before the surgery to remove Martin’s tumor, Laura fought against the temptation to think God owed them, to “remind God of all the good things Martin and I have done for Him.”
As complications from the tumor and surgery grew from short-term to long-term, Laura began to see the powerlessness that she and even the doctors had to fix Martin’s health. And she began to see a new perspective about God, too. “Jesus came to heal, but He doesn’t always fix the broken things I want fixed.”
Living with the lasting effects of her husband’s brain tumor surgery and knowing that her happily-ever-after didn’t come in a nice, neat package, Laura admitted, “joy came when I took tentative steps in God’s direction.”
Full of doubts and uncertainty, Laura was not afraid to ask Him “Why?” But He turned her questions to “How?” “How might God use this for His glory?”
One of God’s many answers to Laura was to use her music to reveal His faithfulness to her listeners. She began to wonder, “What if the worst thing I have to offer – my broken story – is really the best thing I have to offer? I learned that when I was willing to share my story, God used it to heal others emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And that’s what healed me.”
Once Laura put her dreams into God’s hands, she had to learn to trust Him. “I learned that God could, and would, provide for my deepest longings. It just might look different than if I had been in control.”
Laura wanted to blame the problems in her life on her husband’s disability, but she humbly realized, “the biggest problem in our marriage was our sin. Martin’s disability offers me more chances to get it right (or wrong) than most other people get in their marriage. To be better in our brokenness isn’t to remove the brokenness; it’s to remove the selfishness, pride, impatience, or other sinful behaviors we blame on the brokenness. Martin did not have a brain tumor so I would learn how to be more patient. But God can use our circumstances to teach us to have patience and a thousand other things that make our marriage stronger than it would be without our trials.”
Laura and Martin have accepted their hard story because they have learned that, “even if our situation may not get better, we can get better. Despite our brokenness, we wouldn’t want it any other way, for it is through our brokenness that God is the hero of our story.”
Keeping Room Tips:
“When God Doesn’t Fix It” is recommended to you by The Keeping Room because Laura and Martin’s story models true healthy living and reflects and expands upon Scripture: “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer…And…the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (2 Cor. 1:6; Rom. 8:18)
The words of Jeremiah 29:11 are so familiar that you might be tempted to rush past the significance of them: God knows the plans He has for you. That means that God made certain plans for you. But it can be so tempting to take matters into your own hands, especially when His plans don’t seem to be coming into reality quickly enough. As one teen described it recently, “I need to remind myself that His plan for me isn’t going to slip away just because I don’t see it yet.”
Keeping Room Tips:
Ask God to give you patience and trust in the stability and timing of His overall plan for you. (Ps. 73:23-24; Jer. 29:11-13; Hab. 2:3)
Ask God to help you be satisfied in the individual He made you to be, along with the plan He custom made for you. (Ps. 139:13-16; Is. 49:1b; Jer. 1:5; Lk. 1:26-38; Eph. 2:10)
Ask God to help you see and have interest in all the small detailed plans He has for you now, while you wait for more to be revealed later. (Ps. 16:11; Ps. 118:24; Ps. 139:16; Jer. 29:11-13)
Ask God to help you resist the temptation to try to make your plans happen, and help you to instead focus on Him and serving others while He makes His plans happen. (Ps. 25:3; Mt. 11:29; Mt. 22:37; Mt. 26:39)
Ask God to give you relationships with others who will objectively help you discover what His plans are for you. (Mt. 1:19-23; Acts 9:10-19; 1 Tim. 1:18)
Ask God to help you understand and endure all the hard parts that He incorporates into His plans for you. (Gen. 50:20; Job 1:21; Dan. 1:3; Rom. 5:3-4; Rom. 8:18; Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 12:9)
Ask God to help you believe that He will make His good plans happen. (Ps. 138:8; Prov. 3:5-6; Prov. 16:9; Is. 55:11; Jer. 29:14; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 1:11)
Modern culture advertises the aging process as something negative that you are to resist and conceal. And perhaps society has reached this view because of the many persons who live with no future hope and the elderly who put forth no effort. But have you considered what the Kingdom culture has to say about aging?
“Gray hair is a Crown of Splendor.” (Prov. 16:31) Do not misinterpret this verse to mean “Thou shall not color your gray hair.” Rather, this verse is a perfect companion to “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Mt. 25:21) This verse reminds you that the Lord is waiting to crown you (with a Crown of Splendor!) when you have reached the end of serving Him in this life, and are ready to enter complete rest in eternal life. This verse can provide so much relief for you, and enables you to accept aging in a much more peaceful way than the world would have you to view it.
“The righteous will bear fruit in old age.” (Ps. 92:12-14) The message in this verse is the exact opposite of the message given by the world today. The righteous, those with Jesus active in their hearts, need not enter their senior years fretting over aging. He wants to keep you occupied (Eccl. 5:20) and bear fruit through you (Jn. 15:7). Life-changing prayers can make it to heaven even from your rocking chair.
You do not have to be “stuck in your ways” – even at an old age. God never stops helping you change. “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born.” (Gen. 21:5) This was the son through whom the forever covenant with God was made…and he was born to his father in old age. No doubt Abram changed more about himself than his name when he became the father to the nations as an elderly man.
Keeping Room Tips: Society has looked around and seen those in the older population who dread death, who don’t produce good fruit even though they could, and who are very much “stuck in their ways.” And it has concluded that senior living is to be dreaded (unless you can afford to live in a fancy retirement community in Florida). But it doesn’t have to be that way.
- Dig into God’s Word for yourself, asking Him to lead you to verses and stories about aging according to the Kingdom.
- Make a Mission Statement or an Aging Plan for how you will live out your senior years according to what you find while exploring God’s Word.
- Encourage your family members to dismiss the world’s view of aging and assume the Kingdom view.
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Is. 46:4)