Many great memories can happen around a meal. One of my favorites began while making pizza. Feeling especially ambitious, I had made everything from scratch. My two daughters loved patting the puffy dough as it swelled and I had to scold them several times for constantly stealing nibbles from the batch. The smell of sauce filled the kitchen, and the cheese . . . well, I guess I didn’t make the cheese, nor the pepperoni. Nonetheless, the three of us proudly gathered around our table and constructed this work of art as a team.
We began enjoying the fruits of our labor after saying a prayer of thanks. Soon after, a question was asked about whether God hears us when we thank Him. In turn, this led to a discussion about “Jesus in our hearts.” Then came the best comment yet. My younger daughter, Katelyn, exclaimed: “Jesus must sure love pizza!” “Why do you think that?” I asked. “Cuz I always want pizza!” she said with gusto.
It was such a sweet association for her age. She assumed that if Jesus was in her heart, then she must want the things that He wants. What a revelation! We are meant to grow in resemblance to Jesus if we have earnestly accepted Him. The Church is predestined to the purpose of conforming “to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). There is something about that word “conforming”, however, that is not instantaneous. I don’t doubt that Jesus appreciates pizza, but we can’t always count on our desires being His desires, nor that our will is always His will. There’s still a whole lot of “us” to work through.
Romans 12:2 instructs, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I wonder how often I’ve mistaken my will for His will. I remember as a new Christian, I stumbled upon Psalm 37:4 which states, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” At the time, I assumed that as long as my desire wasn’t blatantly immoral, then God would want to offer it to me. This was my perception of a good father.
I was overlooking at least two very important aspects of this concept. First, I assumed that my desires weren’t tainted. Scripture tells us otherwise. Even as “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17), we have a lot of shedding of the old self to go through. Among the many Scriptural references, Titus 2:11-12 indicates that we still need to be taught to abstain from worldly desires and 2 Peter 2:10,18 very clearly reminds us that our own fleshly desires are corrupt. My second misconception of God as a good father is that this requires Him to be both earthly-minded as well as my quick-fixer-upper. I had obviously glossed over a certain fruit of the Spirit called “patience” (otherwise translated, “long-suffering”) and forgotten about Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Accepting Christ offers righteousness in terms of right-standing with God. However, this does not automatically perpetuate right-desires. So what can I learn from Psalm 37’s promise to give me the desires of my heart? I can pray that God first implants His desires within my heart, which He will in turn fulfill. And since His will is what is good, pleasing, and perfect, can I really hope for something better? Ultimately, the greatest desire He wants to place in our heart is for Him. If we delight in Him, as Psalm 37:4 presented, then He Himself will be our desire . . . and what could be more valuable than to hear Him promise to offer Himself to us?
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
– Luke 11:13
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