John asked me to write a quick intro to this post partly because I pressured him to write the post. That was because what he said on a phone call one day seemed so crystal clear, so profound and yet so simple, that it just had to be shared. Do you live on the cruise ship or the battleship (a great analogy our friend Gary Barkalow uses to describe how we approach life)? Or more accurately, do you realize yet that the cruise ship is a lie. (Even more so than the cake…)
And it was John’s comment, almost passingly, that he no longer even considered the issue which made him mostly immune to the kind of self-absorbed hang wringing that was plaguing our friend. What you expect determines 90% of what you experience – know now that this is a world at war and so much will make sense almost overnight. -Chris Skaggs
“Life just hasn’t turned out the way I had hoped.” I have heard that from several people lately, often in conversations with friends once the chitchat and small talk turns to deeper things of the heart.
We all have dreams, aspirations and hopes. We keep going through disappointments and detours. Think of all the things you set out to do all those years back as a little child. You were going to save the world with a cape and some spidey underwear, the outlaws were going to fear you as you rode into town with your mighty posse. Nothing was going to stop you from becoming that famous explorer who discovered the cure for whatever ailed society.
In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
that he channels toward all who please him. Proverbs 21:1
But life has a way of killing even the strongest desires…except those that God places in our hearts.
Recently I finished an incredible study of the book of Daniel with my wife Kristine. I thought I knew the story well but as we dove in the details and richness of the story began to form.
Daniel’s life turned out very different than he expected. We get a good description of Daniel in the first chapter. “young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.”
As a privileged teen in the royal courts of Israel he had a life ahead of him of promise and stature. He was on the track to a successful life filled with learning, opportunity and leadership.
It all changed though with the Babylon’s invasion and kidnapping. Daniel was among the ones chosen to serve a foreign king because of his giftings.
He spent the rest of his entire life in exile serving godless men. He did it all in the shadow of our mighty God. He constantly kept close to God’s heart and through it found his true calling and desire. And in it he did God’s will.
Many times in the book a scene is played out where Daniel is seeking God on the river bank. It is a picture of a man, face turned toward the holy hill in Jerusalem in a far off Land. God meets Daniel over and over with his own presence and with mighty angels. There is evidence of long times of despair and loneliness, but Daniel never wavers.
What is never seen is Daniel losing heart. He is steadfast in his pursuit of God. And that is the difference. Yes, like every man, I am sure he had his moments of doubt. But I don’t think he let them last long or become deep enough to take root in his outlook on his existence. He knew who he was, and he knew his calling. God did mighty things with him as a result. The events that happened because of Daniel’s faith in God are still rippling out through time. We even received glimpses of the end days and all God has planned because Daniel opened his heart to God instead opening it to despair and resignation.
Life did not turn out the way Daniel planned. I do know that God probably spoke great things to him as a young boy, to a young boy’s heart. We can choose where our hearts wander when detours hit. Do we fall into despair or do we choose to get closer to God?
In those stolen moments with God what is he speaking to your heart? What is he slowly cutting away and revealing? As he whispers, confess to him the plans you have been holding on to. Turn your question away from “who am I” to “Who are you Lord”. Ask him how he can redirect your desires. I know you won’t be disappointed. In fact I know you will be thrilled. He will change the world with you. The truth is that you will find your self. You will realize who you truly are once you find him. Jesus said to his disciples “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
Lets, lose it together.