Paul's Ponderings

Spiritual Formation. Discipleship. Christian Living.

Listen to the Desire

Listen to the DesireA desire that is common to most people is the desire to change.

 This doesn’t mean that you hate your life, but it is a recognition that life could be different.  This desire is telling you that  you could be more productive, you could have better relationships, you could provide a better example, or you could be more generous.

I don’t know exactly the desire of your heart, but I do know that it is not a bad thing to have such a desire. It is my belief that that this desire is God reminding you that He still has more for you in this life. The life you are currently living is not the full expression of the life He created you to live.

There are many reasons why we ignore the desire to live a fuller life. One common reason for us who live in the United States is busyness. If your life is like most people I know your life is filled with responsibilities from family to work to church. Adding one more thing to the mix seems like a crazy thing to do.

The reason that I fail to listen to the desire of my heart to life a fuller life is because of fear. Fear of not having what it takes to live this life God has created for me, fear of being put into awkward situations, and fear of being opposed by other people. I have learned to ignore the desire, and continue on with the life that I enjoy, but the life that is far below the life that God desires for me to live.

What is the answer?

Dallas Willard wrote:

The disciplines are activities of mind and body purposefully undertaken, to bring our personality and total being into effective cooperation with the divine order. (The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 68)

The answer to living the life God created us to live is found through the practices known as spiritual disciplines. These disciplines connect us with God and opens up the way to the life He has for us to live.

We need to commit to doing these practices on a regular basis because if we do them only when we are in the mood to do them, then they we won’t do them. Like physical exercise, they require effort, focus, and energy. Since many of us are exhausted by the life we already have, we will put this disciplines off as much as we can.

It is not a bad thing to work on our relationship with God or to strive to live the life He created for us. The apostle Paul told his disciple Timothy:

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it.10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. (1 Timothy 4:7-9; NLT)

I think too many of us have bought into the idea that faith does not require work. That has led us to believe that if we simply have faith then God will transform our lives. That is not what Paul told Timothy!

Paul told Timothy that he had to train to be godly. That to live the life God had for him Timothy would have to work and struggle to have it. I know that is not what we want to hear, but that is the path to the life God created us to live.

God has given us this desire in our hearts to remind us that there is more to life. Listen to it and let it motivate you do the hard work of changing your life. Commit to praying everyday, to the regular study of  the Bible, to fasting, to worship, to times of solitude, and periods of meditation. These are  examples of the disciplines that will enable us to connect with God and transform our lives.

We can satisfy the desire of our hearts of living the abundant life. For that to happen we have to commit ourselves to the disciplines that will lead us to this full life that God has for us.


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  1. Thanks, Paul. Just finished college, after going back to school in my 30s. So many desires, we can do anything, but can’t do everything. At one hand, natural skill in art and education appropriate to that career, and to the other, a desire to be and make disciples. Missionary work has always seemed to be calling me. Yet I feel as far away from it as when I began. I always thought a door would just open, I’d go to hear and talk to missionaries visiting far and wide, and I anticipated one would say, Great, we need you, when can you go? But they don’t. Well, one did, a man who runs a school in South America said he’d hire me to teach art. Not really what I had in and mind. Ywam looked interesting, but it’s about 9k for a year of training, which all things considering sounds reasonable-esque (classes, room and board, air fare, insurance), and you have to be debt and car free to boot. It’s like joining the army, except you pay to serve. I guess that’s just what I have to face. Any advice to this end?

    • Hi Ross, thanks reading and the comment. Not knowing you personally makes it hard to offer specific advice, but here is my initial thought. Because of the many opportunities that are out there I would stay away from anything that adds debt to your life. Debt is a burden and will hinder you in the future. Find away to use your natural skill in art and education to make money, but then look for opportunities to doing missions locally. I don’t know what it is like in where you live, but here in Minnesota we have a growing refugee population. The church that I pastor are looking for ways to reach the Burmese community in town. One of the ministries that we are seeking to start is teaching music lessons, because the Burmese here want to learn to play music. I think if you can keep your eyes open and pray that the right opportunity will come your way. Don’t give up on that desire for missions, but maybe look outside of the box for a way to meet it. I hope that helps.

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