Saturday, January 2, 2016

Following Your Heart

I hear people say "follow your heart" all the time. I see beautifully made pictures on Facebook with that quote, and I see well-meaning people give that piece of advice to struggling friends. Follow your heart. It sounds so simple and it would make life so much simpler if we could just decide to follow our hearts. I'd love to follow my heart and do whatever I felt like doing! It presents itself as an ideal solution to our own happiness. But beware those sugary sweet words of advice; they'll end up tasting sour as vinegar.

The problem with following our hearts is that our hearts are deceitful. Jeremiah 17:9 says "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Our hearts lie. We look inside ourselves and we think we know what we want and/or need, but it's not the truth. God knows what we need, his plan is sovereign, and always for our good (Jeremiah 29:11). Jeremiah says we don't even know how bad our own hearts are. Think about that for a minute-- our hearts are deceiving us already and we're blinded to the fact that they are deceiving us, so we can't even understand how bad our own desires are! I'm not saying that everything we want or desire for ourselves is bad, but we are inherently selfish beings and we don't ultimately know what is best for us. Because our hearts are deceitful, it is vital to pray for God's leading and his wisdom in our lives. We have to be discerning about whether we are following our own hearts or listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit whispering to our hearts. When we are open to being obedient to God's voice in our lives, it is truly amazing how our own wills are brought into alignment with his. We then start to desire what God desires for us. In this way, we are no longer so disappointed when things we thought we wanted don't come to pass.

Here's an example: a couple of years ago, we had the chance to move to Canada (where my husband is from) and take over a family business. We were so excited and couldn't wait to get everything in order and ready to go! We prayed about it often. Although it seemed like exactly what we wanted and had ever hoped for, we still prayed God's will over it. Through the months it took to try and get everything settled, we prayed for God's will to be revealed even though we really wanted to move. After several months of planning and praying, we found that what we thought had been our hearts' desire in moving turned out to be contrary to the will of God, and in praying for God's will, he had changed the desires of our hearts and we no longer wanted to move. Amazing how he does that! Something we thought we had so wanted ended up being something we didn't want after we prayed for God's will to be revealed in our lives.

It's easy to get caught up in your own desires, your own plans, your own hopes and dreams. There's nothing wrong with having desires, plans, hopes and dreams. We just have to realize that they may not be what God has planned for us. However, when we pray for his will to be accomplished in our lives, and truly desire to be obedient, we won't be disappointed if our own plans don't come true. God's plan is always the best plan, and when we desire nothing more than to walk in his will, we will experience the fullness of God's blessings for us.