I have a friend who pastors a Vineyard church near Philadelphia. He is one of my favorite people in the world to talk to…other than the fact that every conversation seems to include, “Hey, you should move to Philadelphia and plant a church.” Even as I talked with him as we have been wrestling with church planting in Ireland, his response was, “Are you sure you’re not supposed to plant in the Irish part of Philadelphia?”
Normally, I just laugh. Sometimes I say, “No, but thanks for asking.” However sometimes he asks a few too many times & I end up saying something like, “I am never planting another church! I did it once, it is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I am never doing it again.” While I definitely felt it when I said it, and while I wasn’t actually telling God I won’t, it is one of those things you say & immediately think, “maybe not the smartest thing I’ve ever said.”
So what does that have to do with losing weight & eating Doritos? Well, I want to lose 20 pounds because I need to schedule a physical soon & my doctor is going to yell at me about being fat if I don’t lose some weight. But an even greater desire of mine is to eat Doritos. I also want one of the new iPads when they come out in the fall. And I want the Red Sox to win the world series this year. I want…you get the idea.
Now when I turn to Psalm 37, I read this:
3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
We could use that verse for a justification for being a bit self focused. All I need to do is delight in God, & I can have all the stuff I desire. Then of course when we don’t get it, we need to figure out if we are actually delighting enough…or are we delighting properly.
In chapter 4 of his letter, James writes this:
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
So, putting those two together, a large part of delighting in God is desiring what he desires. (And while I’m pretty sure God would rather have the Red Sox win the world series than the Yankees, I’m having trouble finding a scripture verse for that.)
When I read Psalm 37, I think there is a bigger meaning as well. If you asked me at anytime over the past 12 years if I would ever want to plant another church, I would have told you no. I have planted two campus ministries & one church & I was done.
Yet, as I drove to Belfast that Sunday morning last summer and the idea of planting in Ireland came up, it wasn’t dread, or anything like that. It was from the start a really strong passion and excitement.
I think that passage is not so much about God working through our list of wants, and much more about Him giving us a desire to be in on what He is doing. That He actually changes our hearts to care about what He cares about. Neither Liz or I have forgotten how tough it was to plant here in Ithaca, nor do we simply believe that this time it’ll be easy. But we do believe that we’ve been given a desire that wasn’t there before.
On Sunday we encouraged people to pray that God would send laborers into the harvest…and to follow that up with “Here am I, send me.” That prayer should probably come with a warning label. It’s a lot easier to desire more Doritos & a smaller waistline.