Growing up, I had a lot of goals for my life. As a young child, I, like nearly all my female peers, aspired to be a veterinarian. Now, I don’t even particularly like pets, and I find myself glad I wasn’t forced to stick to that goal (or any others I made for that matter!). Along with the goals I set came desires for the things I could attain in this world- status, riches, an education, a home, a family. While none of these things are inherently wrong and all can be used for God’s glory, I have come to learn that in setting these goals and pursuing these desires, I set myself up for failure in the long term.
I set myself up for failure when my end goal is ME– my happiness, my fulfillment, my wealth, etc. in Philippians, Paul teaches what (or rather, who) should be my end goal:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (Philippians 3;7-8).
Not only am I to make Christ my end goal, but I am also to make all other goals, aspirations, desires, and all things of absolutely no importance to me in comparison to the best prize. The end goal of every day of my life and every decision that I make should reflect a heart that desires only one thing, the ultimate rewarwd-the One who paid it all for me.
While Paul spoke to the end goal in Philippians, David speaks to the desires of our heart that come alongside our goals. As a new Christian, I interpreted Psalm 37:4-5 in a completely different way than I do after years of pursuing Christ.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
When reading this verse before maturing in Christ, I thought, “Oh, good! I just love the Lord and he will give me everything I want!” But that’s not what David is trying to teach at all! Rather, he teaches that when I delight in the Lord as my end goal, God doesn’t automatically give me the objects of my desires, but he places the right desires within my heart. He fine-tunes my wants and wishes to mirror His will until I want nothing more than to live for him and serve him with everything I have.
And that is when I can call all my previous desires “dung-” waste, undesirable, detestable. Those things I have spent my whole life aspiring to achieve and attain couldn’t mean less to me than they do now. Of course, dreams, hopes, and wishes for earthly things remain, but if these things don’t line up with my end goal: to know and honor Christ, then it’s not so difficult to let them go. It’s not so difficult to leave my home and go to a land that needs the gospel, and not because this task will be a breeze, but because it lines up with both my end goal and the desires God has placed within my heart.
Don’t think for a minute that I have mastered this mindset. I am learning and growing in this area everyday. It is a constant, daily battle to maintain the right goal and focus on the God-given desires within me. Like Paul, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.
Praise be to God for His continual working in my life! I pray that this simple lesson is a blessing and a help to someone today.