Our feisty, spirited and very cute granddaughter Alivia (Livie), not quite three years old, is learning the power of her own will. Although she clearly looks up to big sister Sophie, Livie also has a mind of her own and doesn’t hesitate to make her wishes known. She knows what she wants, and she expresses it clearly. Sometimes she can’t have what she wants, but her Mom and Dad are wise enough to curb her will without crushing it.
Sophie, now five years old, has been learning some of the ways of the Lord. She has a sensitive conscience, wants to please the Lord, and is usually quite good to her little sister. However, like Alivia, she too has desires, and sometimes this leads to conflict.
Yesterday Alivia wanted her tricycle back. Her big sister had taken it. Alivia complained, and her Dad intervened and told Sophie to give the tricycle back to Alivia. Justice was done, and Alivia was satisfied.
However, from Sophie’s perspective, this was not a perfect solution, because for Alivia to get her tricycle back, Sophie had to give up something that she wanted. It took a father’s wisdom, and a time out, but eventually peace was restored. Eventually Sophie was able to see things through her father’s eyes, and the sisters were friends again.
This classic conflict scenario illustrates several key truths.
First, our Father wants us to present our desires to Him. It is not wrong to ask him for things. Both girls presented their cases to their father, and he listened to them both with compassion as well as firmness.
Second, when we present our desires to our Father, we also need to recognize that He is God and we are not. For peace to be restored, both Sophie and Alivia needed to be willing to let their Dad settle the dispute.
Third, we need to stay engaged with God even when the answers are not immediate, or not what we had hoped for. Even though it took some time before Sophie could see things her Dad’s way, she trusted him enough to yield to his discipline, and eventually, she too was satisfied.
Sometimes we need to let God adjust our perspective before we can receive the blessings that He desires most to give us. If we stay engaged, and keep talking to him and listening to him, eventually he gives us the desires of our heart, although sometimes He first has to awaken in us a desire for those things that lead to true peace and lasting satisfaction.
Like Sophie and Alivia, all God’s children are on a journey to maturity. The plans God has for us are far beyond what we can now see or imagine. If we want to come into all that He has for us, we need to learn how to deal with the strong desires that arise from our souls.
Desires can cause conflict, and they can be destructive. But unlike Buddhism, which teaches its adherents to extinguish all desires, the God of the Bible chooses instead to work with our desires and shape them for our good and for his glory. In this process, we do need to reject some desires and embrace others. But let’s not reject the whole concept of desire. It was God who gave us our wills, and God who placed in us the capacity for desire. When we come to him in faith, and allow Him to sort through our desires and respond according to His wisdom and love, he does not extinguish our wills or our desires. Instead, he shapes them to His purposes, and awakens in us a desire for His glory, so that He can bless us far beyond what we can imagine or conceive.
Thanks be to God for his amazing wisdom and goodness to us!