“Do not put your hope in [fill in the blank here]” says every Christian mentor ever. Years have been passing as I’ve struggled in trying to understand myself, my desires, and God’s desires. Message after message I’ve heard telling me to not follow my heart, don’t pursue happiness, don’t put your hope in marriage or a job or kids or friends or family.
Maybe it was me or maybe it was actually the message being given to me… I’ll never know, but the truth wants to come out. There’s dreams and desires stuffed down in there that feel covered in shame because either I was told to not have hopes and dreams, I’m afraid of loss/disappointment, or whenever I was being told not to put my hope in something I thought it also meant that I shouldn’t hope for anything either. Maybe they were telling me that, maybe they meant I ought not to hope for the things I longed for. Maybe I didn’t know the difference. Either way, my heart and soul are finding freedom. Here’s is where I am now:
Hope: the expectation/longing for good, a desire for something to happen, a type of trust/assurance
“Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.” Jeremiah 17:5
“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” Psalms 146:3
“Here’s what you say to those wealthy in regard to this age: “Don’t become high and mighty or place all your hope on a gamble for riches; instead, fix your hope on God, the One who richly provides everything for our enjoyment.”” 1 Timothy 6:17
Man can turn away from the Lord, the strength that comes from man is not strong enough for what we need. Man was never going to be able to save our souls. If we want good things, why not look to God and expect the good we desire from him who provides those things instead of leaving it up to chance or asking man alone to provide?
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”…So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1
“As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.” Luke 18:35-43
Beautiful longings come from the pouring out of our souls, our desires, our dreams. God doesn’t always answer yes, but the outpouring of our souls finds favor in his eyes. In it lies the confession that we know it is he who provides and we didn’t earn or deserve his favor, but it is a gift.
The heart: an anatomical feature given to describe desires and passions
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
“Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life” Proverbs 4:23
“Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility. Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.” Ecclesiastes 11:8-9
The heart can be deceitful, it must be watched over, but from it flow the springs of life. We have the freedom and permission to follow the impulses of our hearts and the desires of our eyes, we are to enjoy the days that are good because they won’t last. Yet, there is a warning… God will judge our hearts. He will declare them as righteous or wicked. We will be held accountable for what the impulses of our hearts led us to do.
What God does with the heart:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” Provers 16:2
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9
“‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.'” Jeremiah 24:7
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
“It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:3
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
God knows our hearts. He directs our hearts. He weighs our hearts to test if it is pure or selfish. He cares about our motives. God sees our hearts. He searches our hearts. The Lord gives us a new heart that longs to know him. He creates a clean heart in us. The Spirit of the Living God has written the gospel on our hearts. He removes our hearts of stone and replaces them with a moving, breathing, bleeding heart.
Hear what your heart is saying. Listen to it. Listening doesn’t mean doing what it says, listening means paying attention. Take note. Affirm the desires and passions. Bring them before the Lord and ask “Have mercy on me!”. “Treat me unlike I deserve”. “Give, though I have not earned.”
Pray and do not lose heart. Luke 18:1
Nehemiah was merely a cup bearer to a king. Upon hearing the news of the destruction in Jerusalem and the despair of the people, with sadness of heart, he asked the king if he could aid to rebuild the temple. The Lord made a way for the conception and establishment of Nehemiah’s desire.
“And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.” Nehemiah 2:2-8
It wasn’t an easy task, it wasn’t met without trouble or consequences, but where would Nehemiah been if he had never asked? What of Hannah or the blind man or the persistent widow begging for justice? What does silencing our desires do? If our only excuse is to avoid disappointment and pain, then I think we are choosing not to believe the Lord can truly satisfy in our unmet desires. That his comfort is sweeter than numbness.
Never allowing your heart to have a place in your life is about as crazy as not allowing your heart to hope for heaven. All of our hoping and waiting is just a small picture of the greatest redemption and gift our hearts long for.
“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.“
“Do not follow your heart, if it means your going to settle when you know there’s something better.” What if you’re not settling? What if following your heart is you becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be and the person God has always wanted you to be?
I’d say listen, I’d say go… and God will hold you accountable for all that you do.