Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices! (Psalm 37:3-7, ESV)
“Love God, and do whatever you please.”—Saint Augustine, “Sermon on 1 John 7, 8″
Wait. Read those again. How can both statements be right? What helps us know whether our desires are really God’s, too? And for that matter, if our desires really are God’s desires, what reasons might God have for not fulfilling them?
Hold the thoughts you’ve just had. You’ll need them later on.
We’ve spent the last several Mondays exploring how God’s built each of us—our gifts, our passions, our desires, and the things God wants to accomplish through us. Today, we look at all those pieces God’s given us and start figuring out how they all fit together.
One great indication of how it all comes together is from Frederick Buechner’s book Wishful Thinking: “The kind of work God usually calls you to do is work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world needs most to have done. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
So, think about the gifts you know God’s given you—or that others say they’ve seen in you. Where are others confirming what you’re seeing? Or, what are they consistently noticing that you haven’t, but now you’re starting to wonder if they’re on to something?
Then think about this: What gets you excited? Who’s God given you the biggest heart for? What can’t you imagine not being able to do?
So, then: What are some ways your gifts and your passions could come together for God’s glory?
It might be something you’re already doing. It might be something you’ve thought about but haven’t yet taken the next step with. For that matter, it might be something you’ve thought of just now. And you might think of something that seems totally off-the-wall at first—but don’t throw it out just yet. Don’t feel you have to come up with the perfect answer; just start throwing ideas out there. You never know what God might use you to bring out.
Now, let’s come back for a reality check—not that God isn’t revealing something huge that He’s already prepared you to do, but to realize that God’s work isn’t a magic formula but… well, work:
I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:23-27, ESV).
• Why is it important to have both desire and discipline when running a race of any kind? How do—or should—the two work together?
• Reflecting on today, which do you need more in your own race—whatever that looks like—desire or discipline? Or is it something else?
• What could most help you in training for your race right now?
We’ve considered some big things. Some of you are ready to jump right into something new and exciting. Some of you might be feeling recharged after thinking about things that matter to you and you’re already involved with. Yet others of you might be thinking, “All this is great, but I still don’t have a clue what to do next.” And that’s OK, too.
The only wrong answer here is, “God doesn’t care about where I’m at.” God wants to use every good thing in our lives to reveal His goodness to others. So take the time to share with others what God is doing in your life, and to pray for your situation. Invite God into the process. After all, He’s the one stirring all this up within you to begin with. As Dallas Willard said in The Divine Conspiracy, “To trust the real person Jesus is to have confidence in him in every dimension of our real life, to believe that he is right about and adequate to everything.” May God bless what He wants to do through each of you!
Good afternoon, Mr. Simmons,
I am writing to let you know that our church, John Gray Memorial United Church (Reformed) in West Bay, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands is presently using your series, Growing out: from Disciples to Disciplers for our Bible Study material, and it is making a tremendous difference in our congregation. We are so blessed that God has used you to produce such profound study material – and I’m sure he has other great works for you to do also.
We are in the middle of Book 3 – Growing in your Gifts, lesson 6 and now moving into lesson 7, and I was totally blown away by the quote by Augustine from his “Sermon on 1 John 7, 8”. My initial thinking was that those two phrases could not go together so I decided to google it and lo and behold I found your exegesis on it. Amazing! Thanks so much for that too. It will make it so much easier for us at Bible Study tonight.
Keep up the fantastic work – and maybe you and your good wife might like to visit us here in the Cayman Islands. We are 3 small islands south of Cuba and northeast of Jamaica with lots of beautiful people. Come on down and see us!
Katherine D. Jackson
John Gray Memorial United Church
Wow, Katherine, thanks for your kind words. I really needed them right about now. I’m really happy to hear that the series is making such an impact on your church (which is, of course, the goal :)).
And there are certainly worse places we could visit than the Grand Caymans. Maybe we can make our 30th anniversary down there (we’re coming up on 28).
Also, check out the link for “Lay It Down: The Book” on this site. Just put it out last month,. I’m hoping it’ll fit your bill for the “other great works for you to do also.” I’m pretty proud of it, anyway.
Thank you again, Katherine. If you have any other questions/comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.