Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. ~ Psalm 37:3-5
I read this psalm a few days ago. Isn’t this great news? God will give us what we want if we just trust him and do good things. The rest of the passage tells what those good things we should do are; trust/commit ourselves to God; delight in him and be still before him. Refrain from anger, forsake wrath, don’t fret over those who prosper in their own way, and don’t worry. The psalm lists many of the things the evil and wicked do, but we are let go of that, trust God, do good, anyway. That is so easy, thanks very much.
But…maybe this psalm has another meaning or can be thought about differently. We can make such a pharisaical practice of doing good things, then when we don’t get what we want or many of those things for which we ask, we are at the very least disappointed. We aren’t often all that good, either, because we do get angry when we see the evil prosper. We can’t treat this scripture as a formula. I’m not fond of formulae because they are most often about getting it right when it is really so all about Grace. The Pharisees had the formula down pat but they forgot about love, about being in a love relationship with God and then loving others. It is about being in love with Jesus and staying in that relationship. Then, God will put within us that which he dreams for the desires of our heart to be. His dreams and his desires become ours. And we go from there.
Do I have an example? Well, with a little time I could probably come up with several. Maybe it is my writing. I never wanted to do it, because it requires lots of discipline and some organization. Not my strong suit at all. And what do I have to say anyway. Then maybe teaching for the same reason. But, both have gradually become part of my passion.
Many, many years ago, I wanted many things that would make my life easier and more glamourous. I wanted my children to be happy, healthy and prosperous. I wanted the same for my husband. I wanted to be happy, healthy and prosperous, normal desires. I didn’t get them all. There was illness, sadness, and brokenness, as well. Then I began to realize that God was there with me in all of the mess. I started to know that Jesus loves me (loves all of us as if we were the only one.) Much of what made me sad made God sad as well. As our relationship grew, my desire became that others would come to know that God was love—that Jesus loves all of us and there is nothing we can do that will change that in any way. I didn’t know how to live with God’s desires at first, so I started doing what was right in front of me. It changed over the years. Little did I know that what I wanted to do – my passion – was God’s desire planted within me for the needs of the world in my small part of it.
So how do we start? First of all, remember that it’s all about the relationship with Jesus. Then look for what is in front of you that you love to do? Maybe it’s visiting the sick or lonely, feeding the hungry, finding shelter for the homeless, caring for orphans or…writing or teaching about God’s love. What is your passion for the world? What is God’s for you to do?
Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Now, if I can only remember this.