From time to time we want to share more of the story about how we got here: to this place where our yes is on the table and we are committed to move to London to plant a church. The idea is to share about the formative experiences that led us here. One of those experiences happened one year ago this week as we were celebrating eight years of marriage in Charleston, South Carolina.
Have you ever had those moments of real clarity where you're able to think about where you are and where you're going? For us, they tend to happen when we travel. There is something truly therapeutic about travel that refreshes us by breaking us from our normal routines. One year ago - on this very week - we were in Charleston. We were talking about what God had done over the last year and discussing what we thought God was calling us to in the year ahead. It was in those conversations that we realized God was preparing something new for us.
Delighting In The Lord
One of our favorite verses of Scripture is Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. We love this verse and it is a roadmap for how we want to live as a family. The verse easily divides into two sections. First, what we ought to do: Delight in the Lord. Second, what God does: He will give you the desires of your heart.
During those days in downtown Charleston we were seeking rest and recovery from the busy work of delighting ourselves in the Lord. Simply, this means to enjoy Him and to serve Him. We were tired from a full year of: making disciples, opening up our home, hosting meetings, teaching, preaching, leading, caring, organizing marriage counseling, officiating weddings, and more. We were delighting ourselves in the Lord. And in that season He was doing something. God was steadily making Himself at home in us and putting new desires in our hearts.
He Will Put New Desires
The wording of this Hebrew prayer in English doesn't read quite right. It might look as if a life of diligent worship to God results in God giving us whatever we want,"He will give you the desires of your heart." This is close but possibly misleading. The words literally ready, "He will put new desires in your heart." This is why everyone should learn to read Hebrew (kidding, of course!).
God doesn't promise to give us whatever desires are in our heart. In fact, all God promises to do is to transform our hearts and teach us to want the right things from Him and for our lives.
From those days, we were able to look back over the last season and start to see the things God had been doing in our hearts. From leading mission trips, to dissertation research on Lesslie Newbigin, to partnering with other church plants, to taking vacations to cities - God was slowly and surely rearranging and recalibrating the affections of our hearts. He was steadily changing our tastes. He was changing our desires.
During those days in Charleston we become more and more aware of what God had been up to. Thinking back on those trips it didn't seem like God was doing much at the time - those moments simply felt like the next thing in a long chain of activities. But, over time, we came to see that it was those very moments where God was doing His important work in us.
This journey so far has taught us a lot about how God leads and speaks to us. From time to time, we want to share a few of the ways He has spoken to and led us and share that with you as an encouragement for your own life. As we continue on this journey together, here are three ways Psalm 37:4 matters for your own life and hearing from God.
1. Worship leads to clarity.
It's in the very process of worshipping God that we grew in clarity as to what He would have us do next. We spend a lot of time with college students. As we do, we spend a lot of time having discussions about what they ought to do with their lives. Sometimes the process of figuring out what God would have you do with your life seems daunting and paralyzing. Yet, Psalm 37:4 teaches an important truth: Worshipping God leads to clarity in life-direction. Jesus taught the same idea in Matthew 16:25 when He said, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." We were made to find ourselves - and our futures - as we live in pursuit of God and in service to others. So, if you're not sure where things are headed or what you ought to do next you should give yourself to worshipping God.
2. God is always working.
A second major takeaway from Psalm 37:4 is that God is always at work in our lives. God "puts new desires in your heart" through a variety of different ways. He uses conversations, experiences (both good and bad), friendships, times of serving, resting, and working to shape us into the people we are today. One of the many benefits of having a sovereign God is that He never has just one moment for doing what He does - He accomplishes more than we could ever imagine through all sorts of means. So, rest assured that He is at work in your life. He uses the noticeably meaningful and the seemingly mundane to prepare us for our futures.
3. Conversations are key.
God is often doing things in our lives that we struggle to see and articulate on our own. Our own fears, excitement, and concern seems to get in the way of clearly perceiving what God is doing in a moment or a season. Thankfully, we were never intended to figure all of this out on our own because we were made for one another. God is often doing things in our lives that we can't fully recognize from our own perspectives and we need the help of other people to get a full picture of what God is doing. In our friendships we need the perspective of others to get a full picture of everything that is going on in our lives. In our marriage we need the shared perspective of one another to sense what God has been doing as well. So, embrace conversations - with your friends and especially your spouse - as a way of tuning in to what God is doing.
Simply, we got to this moment now because we kept our heads down and worked hard for a season of years. We enjoyed God where we were and did not worry about hurrying on to anywhere else. We gave ourselves to working long hours, entertaining in our home, and lots of traveling because that was the work God had for us. And, in the midst of all of that, God was preparing a new dream in us: to gather a team, to move to London, and to plant a church that would plant churches and transform culture.
We are still happily engaged where we are and we are preparing to move into that new season as well. We don't get everything right. We make a lot of mistakes. But, we labor to be faithful and to serve well. We are happy to share our story with you and thankful to have you joining us on the journey.