Promises on Our Hearts
Reading and lightly editing these guest posts for my Meaningful Monday series often trigger memories and feelings - recollections of how our Lord has proven faithful to me throughout my lifetime.
I get that I am not that old. By today's measure, my forty some years on this earth is just a drop in the bucket. Still, for me who is melancholy by nature, the swiftness and fragility of life has always been at the forefront of nearly every decision I have ever made, and so I think I tend to take things far more serious than many. At least, most of my friends, family, and colleagues have told me I take life entirely too seriously. ::shrug::
Regardless, I can look back over my life and see a million different ways that the Lord has moved in my life. In many ways, my life was rough. Then again, comparing my life to many, my life was also rainbows and butterflies. So it comes down to what these experiences did in the way of shaping my faith and my life.
Throughout my faith, I had my fair share of life changing upsets and incredible doubts, but today, I want to talk about promises. Two in specific.
First, I have to clarify, when I say "promises" what I mean is this inner heartfelt desire for something, that as I look back I realize was God's way of encouraging me in a certain way, down a specific path. This was not a promise written in black and white. This was a promise written in my heart, that grew over time with such power and clarity, it could not be denied.
Proverbs 3:6 "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
I apologize in advance if this ends up sounding inconsequential. I know the first time I shared this first promise with members of my youth group, I was mocked and laughed at. To these fellow teenagers, vocalizing this outlandish dream was nothing short of absurd.
We were on a work camp trip with Group Mission Trips to Philippi, West Virginia. I was 14, and my youth group was comprised of guys and gals that I loved like siblings. I had begged and pleaded with my parents to let me go, even though I knew there was no way we could afford it. Still, with the help of fundraising and some very generous people in the church, a way was provided. I remember sitting in the van, in the middle seat internally praising God for this opportunity during a very dark time in my life. We were driving through the mountains and valleys that led to that small West Virginia town, and I commented how much I loved the mountains. I was in unimaginable awe of them. Deep inside, the feelings I felt being among the mountains, the trees, the streams, the bare-faced rock walls all fed this undeniable proof of God as my Creator. I never felt so close to Him as I did on that drive. So when I blurted out that someday I was going to "own a mountain," I was, of course, met with some pretty strong and honest ridicule.
((This same trip opened up my heart to other promises of His faithfulness to me in the form of healing and renewal, but that is a blog for another time...))
Long after that trip, during other missions trips, personal trips, and family trips, every single time I had the blessing to pass through mountains, I felt that tug. Undeniable. Unrelenting. And every single time I left the mountains, my soul would hunger for the next time, the next trip, and a time when I wouldn't have to leave.
Fast forward a few years to this second promise - that written longing on my heart - to love and be loved by a very specific man. Of course, as a teenager I longed for a relationship with someone who fit all the teenage requirements for young love. That said, I have to have been the single most socially awkward girl ever. I barely had the confidence to talk to my best friends let alone any of the guys I was crushing on. So, at some point during those high school years, I merely admitted to crushes, but in general did not ever pursue them (unless one of my friends pushed things along... sigh).
So, when I went to college, and I had this idea in my mind that I would not date at all, I found solace in a bible study I participated in with some of my dorm mates: "Lady In Waiting." During this study, we were encouraged to write down the qualities and attributes that we wanted to have in a husband. I went hog-wild. In retrospect, I think I was so excessively picky because I was also insanely terrified of dating and of a long-term relationship. I honestly could not imagine myself married even though in my heart I longed so deeply for someone to share my life and loves with. That list was 44 attributes long. Forty-four! It went far beyond "Christian", "kind", "loving", "selfless", etc... There was one that specifically said, "must drive a truck." Yeah. You get the idea.
Afterward, I met a few men who I thought I could love and spend the rest of my life with. But that list kept playing in my mind. These guys fit some of the list, but most barely hit 10 of the 44. To some of my closest friends, that list was an excuse to not get too close. I was flat out told by several that I was being too picky. I was holding out for a unicorn. When I hit my mid-20s, I began to believe them. I began to believe I was too picky, I was too old-fashioned, and I would have to settle. OR I would have to choose to remain single. Funny thing, as I started expressing to my friends that I could see myself being a nun, that was when I started running into the man who is now my husband.
Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
I honestly cannot express how ridiculous and impossible even I thought that list of 44 things was until I met my husband who checked off all 44 things and carried some attributes I hadn't even thought of! The best part? Not only did the Lord implant that heart's desire within me, AND fulfill that desire, but as my husband and I started our life together. we discovered that many of our heart's desires were mirrored in one another, and that my first heart's promise - this love of His creation as displayed in His mountains - was also shared by my hubby. And now, after many long years that promise has also been fulfilled through God's handiwork.
My dear friends, never underestimate the deepest desires of your heart. When you put God first, and His Spirit writes on your heart, those promises that are wrapped in longing and determination will come to be. If you had asked 14 year old me if I thought I would ever actually have a home among the mountains, I would have laughed, and would have answered no, because that young girl could NOT see any path or road that would have made it possible. If you had asked 19 year old me if I thought I would ever meet a man who could fit all 44 of those characteristics, I would have shrugged and admitted that I honestly didn't believe so. It took six years from the time I made that list to the time I met my husband. It took 27 years from the time I felt the call to the mountains to the time we were able to move among them.
These promises on our hearts are not often fulfilled overnight. (The ONLY promise that is met instantly is the Promise of Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.) Because we are still merely human, our impatience, our fears, and our doubts deny those promises and cause us to doubt His hand on those promises. Even with the Holy Spirit within us, we all too often push Him down and allow our outside influences to diminish His power. To be honest, I also felt as though I were being selfish and losing sight of eternity by clinging to these desires, so I often dismissed them. It has only been in hindsight that I have been able to see that God's purpose for us IS eternal, and BECAUSE His plan is eternal, He also inscribes those very personal promises on our hearts to get us to places where we can further His truth, share His wonders, and testify to the proof of His faithfulness.
Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
I sincerely hope and pray that the promises He has written on YOUR hearts are fulfilled, and that He opens your hearts and your minds to see them and follow His guidance to them. God bless you!