Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2
Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Those words have been ringing through my mind repeatedly. I have been on such a long journey to build my faith. I’m exhausted in so many ways, tired of facing yet another obstacle. I’m ready to see the final outcome, to move beyond these days of struggle.
Jesus is the author—the writer, the creator, the initiator—of my faith. Jesus is the perfecter—the one who knows what it takes to make my faith strong enough, complete enough, to get me through the rest of my days on this earth—of my faith. I don’t know how to make my faith grow. I don’t know what it takes to get me to a place where my faith is unshakeable, where my faith can move mountains. I didn’t initiate my faith, and I don’t know how to complete it. I don’t know what is necessary to make me useful to my Savior. I don’t know what it takes to make my faith mature and complete.
But Jesus does.
Today, I was texting a friend, a friend who has been with me since the beginning of this journey. She was the voice of encouragement and hope and wisdom in the earliest days of heartache and pain. Over the last few years, we’ve lost touch. But this week, I felt compelled to seek her out as a faithful prayer warrior for some things that are weighing heavily on my heart.
As we texted back and forth, I said, “I can truly say that the greatest desire of my heart is to be used by God.”
Even as I typed those words, I was struck by the reality of that statement. God has brought me so far in my faith. He has changed my heart in so many ways. My life has been pummeled and pounded repeatedly. The result has been a stronger, more mature faith—one that has been tested by the trials of this life.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Psalm 37:4-7
You see, four years ago I was newly divorced. The hurt and pain were excruciating. The loneliness left me in tears regularly. I was struggling to find my way through the chaos that had become my life. I remember one day being so overwhelmed that I simply told my kids I needed to go running. They begged me to stay, but I simply couldn’t. Running had become my escape, my coping mechanism, my place of solitude where I could meet with God. Despite the bewildered looks on their faces, I laced up my shoes and walked out the door.
As my feet began to pound the pavement, it didn’t take long for the tears to begin streaming down my face. With every step, I cried out to God. I told Him of my hurt and pain, of my loneliness and despair. I told Him that I wanted to desire Him more than anything else—but I didn’t. My heart’s desire was for a man to love me, to hold me, to care for me. By this time I was sobbing. The pain was overwhelming. I poured out my heart to God.
Then, I heard the sweet sound of His voice whisper to me, “It’s Ok.”
It’s ok to long for a husband. It’s ok that your greatest desire is not for me. It’s ok that you are lost and confused—and even angry with me. It’s ok that your faith is not perfected. It’s ok. As quickly as the tears had come upon me, they began to dissipate. I felt an overwhelming comfort and reassurance that God saw me, that He held my tears in His hand, that He was going to see me through this journey. In that moment, I knew that God has a very special man in my future, that my heart’s desires will be reality…in God’s time.
So often we focus on verse 4: Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart. But, do you see verse 7? Be still and wait patiently for God to act. Yes, God does give us the desires of our heart, but He does so at the perfect time. He answers our prayers in His time, when He knows that we are fully ready to receive those gifts. He provides the desires of our heart when our faith is at the proper strength.
How does our faith reach the proper level?
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
The last five years have been full of different types of troubles: financial woes, relationship woes, job woes. I have sold my house, moved my children to a new community, finished school, changed jobs a couple of times, changed churches, endured adultery and divorce, been financially devastated, financially secure, endured accidents and pain. My life has been a whirlwind of changes—some good and some bad. But, the one constant has been the love of my Savior who has carried me through every step of the journey. He—the author and perfecter of my faith—has known what was needed to grow my faith.
Today, as I came to a realization that my greatest desire is now to be used by God, I realized that my prayer four years ago has become a reality. I still desire a husband, but that desire pales in comparison to my desire to be used by God. The tears began to flow again today as I realized how far I have come.
As I crawl into bed tonight, I will still long for someone to reach out and wrap his arms around me. In the morning, I will wake up and long to curl up next to someone who knows me completely —and yet loves me–morning breath and all. As I go to church tomorrow, I will still long to have that special someone reach over and gently take my hand as we bow in prayer together.
But, even more than that, I long to stand before my Savior one day and hear His voice say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.”