Does God give us the desires of our hearts? Will He give us the things we want? How can we know if something we want is from God or not? This post explores how we should manage our desires.
Cori pressed the phone against her ear. The silence was unmistakable.
Brad had hung up on her. Again. It was the third time in the past ten minutes he had ended their conversation in mid-sentence. And each time he did, a piece of her heart broke.
She put the phone down and thought about what to do next.
Brad and Cori had been dating for over two years. He was everything she wanted in a boyfriend. Well, almost. His temper was more than she could bear at times, and he could be vengeful. She didn’t like that he chose to be with his friends every Friday night instead of her, and he was occasionally rude to people.
But, no one is perfect.
Then there were the jealous streaks that struck at the most awkward moments. Some occurred at random, triggered by a simple coincidence. Others were calculated, or so she supposed. Either way, Cori always felt ambushed by his accusations that she was interested in other men. She hoped that his insecurity would fade one day, and he would see how much she cared about him.
One day, perhaps.
All else aside, their relationship was everything Cori had hoped for. Brad was handsome, had little-boy charm, and fit comfortably into the mold of the ideal man she created as a teenager. Though she had dated a few others before him, Brad was the man she wanted to marry.
That is, if they could move past the “one-time hook up”, as he called it. Brad had gone out with some friends and was supposed to call her when he got home. But she didn’t hear from him until almost noon the next day. After pressing the issue for over an hour, Brad confessed that he had spent the night with a girl he met at a bar.
“She didn’t mean anything to me,” he said.
They argued about it for days. Cori thought about ending their relationship and was convinced Brad had no idea how much he had hurt her. But in the end, she decided to stay because she couldn’t imagine her life without him.
Besides, no one is perfect.
It took a while, but things settled down. Cori sealed the memory of that night in the recesses of her mind and tried to move on. Their relationship seemed to be improving, but every now and then, small things happened to make her worry. Like the times when Brad appeared to be texting when he thought she wasn’t looking.
If she questioned him, he criticized her for being paranoid. When he got tired of defending himself, Brad went on the offensive and accused her of seeing someone else too. A few minutes of arguing was enough to wear Cori down, so she would change the subject to get their conversation back on track.
Somehow, she knew their relationship wasn’t healthy and that Brad wasn’t good for her.
But then again, no one is perfect.
be careful what you wish for
I imagine the first person to bring this twist of irony to our attention made a wish, had that wish come true, then regretted having made it at all. That likely happened because they didn’t understand what they were asking for in the first place.
Perhaps it turned out that what they wanted ended up being more trouble than it was worth. I know I have had my share of wishes granted and regretted ever making them (a few ex-girlfriends and a couple of bad business deals come to mind.)
If we aren’t careful with our desires, we can be like a five-year-old kid who only wants to eat candy all day. Sure, it tastes good, but enough of it will rot his teeth out.
Another curious thing happens. If he eats candy long enough, he’ll get tired of it. That same kid who wanted candy—and nothing but candy—soon finds he’s sick of the one thing he wanted more than anything else.
the desires of your heart
What do you want more than anything?
To be rich and famous?
To find your dream job?
Or, like Cori in the story above, to be with that special someone?
Maybe it’s to help bring justice to a cause. Maybe your desire is to be the best parent or friend possible. Even though your desires may be different than mine, we both have them and want them more than anything else.
Desires are a good thing. They’re the driving force behind passions and dreams. They’re the reason many of us get out of bed in the morning when we want to sleep in. They can be the only thing that keeps us going when we want to quit.
But our desires can work against us if we don’t understand how to manage the responsibility that comes with them.
I’ll use money to illustrate my point.
Let’s say you’re struggling to pay the bills and want to make more money. Let’s also assume you’ll do whatever you have to do to make that money. You’re willing to work overtime, get a second job—whatever it takes.
As you look for ways to make more money, you start spending more time thinking about how it could change your life. Besides, you deserve more. And if you had more money, you could provide a better life for your family. You could send the kids to private school or buy a few extra gifts on birthdays. You could pay off the credit cards bills and start saving for retirement.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be all about you. You’re generous, aren’t you?
If you had more money, you’d give more to your church or to orphans. You’d help that homeless person you saw standing by the edge of the road yesterday. You’d leave a bigger tip for the server at your favorite restaurant.
You could do all kinds of good things—if you only had more money.
Now the idea of being able to do all these things fuels the desire to make more. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?
Not at all.
Money itself isn’t bad. It’s paper—green on one side and gray on the other. But whether money is good or bad depends on how you manage your desire to make more of it. The problem isn’t always with the desire itself—it’s the intent that matters.
“And then he added, ‘It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.’” (Mark 7:20-23 NLT)
In this scripture, Jesus tells us that having the wrong motives are the beginning of a hard lesson. The apostle Paul reminds us that—much like the five-year-old who wants to eat candy all the time—we gravitate naturally toward those things that aren’t good for us.
“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:18-19)
Our human nature can turn a good desire into a bad intention in the blink of an eye. That’s why you need a filter—the Holy Spirit.
Think about the things you want more than anything else and ask God to shed light on them. Ask Him to show you why you have those desires and how He wants you to manage them. Ask Him to give you the right heart for the desire instead of letting your human nature ruin them. Chances are, He’ll show you to be careful what you wish for.
Learn to control your desires, or they will control you.