I found out the hard way that desires are something God wanted us to have, too. Whether it’s desiring for a promotion at work, a new property to invest in or a godly husband, God wants us to dream for ourselves with everything surrendered under His lordship.
What exactly does surrender mean though? In the English dictionary, the word ‘surrender‘ means to cease resistance and submit to authority. This was something that I thought I was doing all along, but God is exposing to me right now how disobedient our hearts could go when we don’t embrace our season, or even recognize it.
In Jeremiah 17:9 and Proverbs 4:23, I learned that everyone should be cautious when listening to their desires because hearts are deceitful. Therefore, emotions should be controlled and feelings are not to be followed. While this remains true, I realize that many single women today don’t fully understand what it means to protect their hearts – I, myself, included.
“Don’t fall into the trap,” I’d fairly warn myself every time I interact with a person I find admirable. I felt like it was a sin to actually have desires. For an instance, I seriously thought that attraction was 100% temptation and allowing it would mean failure to obey God. Then again, the command was to guard your heart and not to toughen it.
I remember a time when my close friend asked me if there was anyone in the Church who I might be crushing on. In all honesty, I didn’t feel drawn to anyone that time. As in nada. But she probed some more, this time asking the qualities of the guy that I would want to pray for. To my response, I said, “I don’t know. I’m sure that I want to have my own family someday but right now, I’m not interested in any of that yet.”
In my head that time, I sincerely hoped that she’d stop forcing the subject to me. I clearly wanted to move forward and discuss other things with much more sense rather than just talking about men. Romance and men, in particular, are subjects that seem to have almost-zero value to me. That’s how insignificant I saw romantic relationships and I swear at some point, I considered staying single my whole life.
Personally, for someone who is used to shutting feelings off most of her childhood, not caring about emotions was quite an easy task. While I continued my walk with God, every time I ‘control’ my heart, I feel like God is pleased with my passive attitude towards romantic relationships. It’s like saying, “Look at me, God! I don’t need a man, you have all of me!”
As much as I thought I was doing God a favor, my full submission to Him wasn’t there. In the depths of my heart, there was still a thorn that was affecting His sovereignty over my emotions towards the opposite sex. I ignored this issue as if telling God that there was no need for Him to fix it. That it was okay the way it was, hidden and untreated.
“We are torn—all of us—between the self-exalting pride of our hearts and our fearful, self-doubting sense of inferiority.” – John Piper
One morning, I woke up from an utterly vivid dream feeling restless. The dream involved a man whose character I looked up to (but never felt attracted) and that caused me to panic. I immediately prayed to God and asked for His guidance, that I may not be distracted by the details of the dream and may my heart just focus on pleasing Him.
I went on with my day like the usual, but it was difficult. Day after day, no matter how hard I tried not to think about the man in the dream, it troubled me all the more. Weirdly, I grew attracted to him and it pained my heart that I needed to act natural every time he was around. Many nights I cried out to God, asking Him repeatedly to ease the burden in my heart, especially when interacting with this man. Two weeks passed and I still didn’t have peace.
Finally, I poured out to God again. I prayed aloud in my room and let my soul speak its heart’s desire until I heard myself say aloud to God, “Help me bless my future husband. I want to be a good wife, Lord!”
Right after I said that, I froze. I was surprised to catch myself declare such strong statement. Was that desire there all along? Was it where God was calling me to? I just knew that all this time, God wanted me to humble myself and give to Him every ounce of fear that I still keep inside. He was, after all, pursuing me. He was teaching me to trust Him. Surprisingly, I was no longer awkward around the man afterward.
Here comes the part where I actually asked Him, “If this is Your will, how do I guard my heart, God?”
Reading the Scripture led me to the following revelations: seek His wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:7-10), believe in His power (John 14:1), stand firm in faith (Matthew 19:26) and let not the enemy steal the joy of obeying God (John 10:10). Because there is peace where He calls His people, my heart knew that this is God moving in and through my season. He is preparing me for something.
In case you’re wondering where I get inspired apart from the Bible, I also read other people’s testimonies and commentaries to quench my thirst for more bits of wisdom. For an instance, below are my most recent Google searches:
- How to know your next season
- When we think we obey God but we actually don’t
- When God wants you to surrender your emotions
- How to surrender my heart to God
- Making God the Lord of my heart
- Lordship over emotions
I stumbled upon this post from Cup of Joy website entitled “Obedience When You Don’t Understand.” The author relates to the story of Peter and Jesus in Luke 5 when Jesus told Peter to cast down the nets at the sea again even though Peter knew that he won’t catch anything at that time. But regardless of what he thought, he obeyed Jesus. “Simon [Peter] answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5)
Have you experienced a moment when you know things are not going to work out because you tried it previously but then in a snap, God will prompt you to do the same exact thing again? And in your head, you bargain with God and explain to Him that you failed many times in that area before. You somehow doubt that another attempt will hardly make any difference.
Guarding [our heart] is not about avoiding a potential romance, or turning down a career offer. It is not simply about staying where it’s comfortable and safe. When you guard your heart, you hold God first when circumstances that are seemingly better than Him arise.
I love it when the author stated that God is not threatened by our questions. Indeed, what God wants from us is not our intellectual capacity to comprehend His word but our unending appetite to obey and trust Him. It’s all about our heart for Him.
From this sharing, I realized that guarding is not about avoiding a potential romance, or turning down a career offer. It is not simply about staying where it’s comfortable and safe. When you guard your heart, you hold God first when circumstances that are seemingly better than Him arise.
That leaves me wondering now. As for us women, what if due to the high walls we’ve created in the idea of guarding ourselves, we become less responsive to God’s leading?
There are things that God will allow us to experience so that we may see His movement. In the face of our uncertainties, we miraculously gather more strength to lift up our hearts to God every day. We are confident of His plans because it is not in His character to confuse us but to expose us to His light.
In the blog post from Project Inspired website entitled “3 Signs That God May Be Taking You Into a New Season,” the author shares the common scenarios that may occur when God is telling us to move forward in life. Well, only be careful in interpreting these signs. Not all signs are from God, so these events don’t always mean a thing. It still takes a lifetime relationship with Him to find out so we pray to God for a higher sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and a growing familiarity with His voice.
In a world that is noisy, how do we distinguish our own desires from God’s?
Guarding, in the English dictionary, means to “watch over in order to protect or control” or to “take precautions against.” Yes, we should guard our hearts. We should take care of it, lead it and control it towards God’s will. But sometimes we tend to overdo the guarding that we assume full control. Unknowingly, we teach our hearts to become unfriendly to new seasons that God possibly wants us to enter. Instead of obedience, we could be living in resistance to His command and possibly be turning a blind eye when God opens a door for us.
As said in Psalms 119, a young man can keep his way pure when he guards his ways according to God’s word. So whether in transit or in full halt, as long aswe abide and delight in His will, peace will follow in any season.
“I place my world in Your hands. You come and steady my heart.”
Bethel Music’s Nearness