I finished the book, The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge, but I have not finished this new journey I am taking this year. It's only just begun.
I have no idea where it will take me- this journey to understand why God would give us desires and dreams, how to know what these desires mean, if our dreams take us away from God or if they are from God's heart, directly from His heart to ours. I have a lot of questions. (But then again, I always have. Ask Bill. He hears them every morning. Early in the morning. )
As my son gets ready to pursue his dreams in the field of media communications and film, I am constantly telling him, "Go for it!" I want him to have as direct a route as possible to his dreams. I would rather he not have to encircle the same mountain over and over, wondering if he can give himself permission to go after his interests, and use his talents in a field where, to him, the possibilities are endless.
I was a personnel consultant, years ago. I placed office support, executive assistants, office managers, in corporate positions where we had obtained a job order. I would have a description of the job and of some qualifications they were looking for. The rest was up to me to find the person who could possibly fit into this position and make that company glad they had utilized my services as a consultant.
One day a guy came in who I'll call, Dan. He had no experience, really. He was a bit lifeless and dull, did not know how to shake hands firmly or present himself well, at all. My boss told me to file away his application. But I could not. Something in me told me that he just did not know himself, or know what he could do. That's why he had not come to life yet. I felt I could coach him a little and get him into an office support position.
First I had him practise shaking hands with me. I directed him to look me in the eye. I told him he had something to offer and that this company he was interviewing at would love to have someone loyal, steady and consistent. That's how I saw the back side of his weaknesses. If people say you are dull, then maybe they don't see that you are steady. If people think you are boring, at least you will not be wildly burning your bra or jumping off a bridge in a foolish daredevil attempt. If someone says you seem uninspired and limp with desire, then maybe nothing has opened your eyes to the wonder of all God has put into you.
So I coached Dan. He interviewed at a couple places, and was hired. I look back at that job I had, the number of people I placed, and no one stands out in my mind like this one candidate. This one placement was more of a success to me than the other well paying placements I made.
Sometimes we are lifeless and boring because we are bored and life is dull for us. Our desire for Life itself is gone because we have mistakenly thought God meant for us to live a staid, rote existence of denial, self restraint, and duty. Someone once said that the definition of a puritan is someone who fears that somewhere, someone, is happy.
"Once we realize what a precious thing this is, the heart's desire, we must see that to guard it is worth our all. To neglect it is foolishness. To kill it is suicide. To allow it to wander aimlessly, to be trapped by the seductions of the evil one, is disaster" writes Eldredge.
There's a cycle of coming alive to all that is in our heart, voicing it- or learning to trust God enough that we voice it to Him, taking it to Him in full assurance that He knows the way we should take. Then, last but not least, is the learning to release that desire of your heart to God. Not so that He can stamp on it and scold you for wanting something. But so that you can see how all your longings, in the end, are summed up in longing for your soul's greatest joy in comfort and companionship with Him. The tastes of our longings being fulfilled here and now are foretastes of heaven. If no appetizer is ever served, will our hunger be kindled enough for the feast that awaits us?
I dare to learn what my heart's desires are. I voice them to God, and while doing so, learn to hear my own heart and what it longs for. It may frighten me to yearn for something that I do not know for sure is in God's plan for me. It may unsettle me to hear myself speak my heart's desire aloud and wonder if I sound ridiculous or if I am roaring with faith.
But I'll take the risk of bringing everything in my heart to Him. It's going to be an exciting journey, with appetizers served freely along the way.