1Sam. 8:7- The LORD said to Samuel, “Do everything the people request of you. For it is not you that they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king.
Discerning the intention of the heart is one of the most difficult tasks in the spiritual life. Often we like to try and discern the hearts of others, but what about our own? Many times we might just assume that our intentions are pure. But we might be surprised when we reflect more deeply into the intentions of our heart.
This is something that I struggle with once in a while. Sometimes I want to quit my job and thrust myself into full time vocational ministry. I think it would be premature to do this. But I can justify it over and over in my mind instead of waiting on the Lord to provide the right season and place. Or, more recently, I was searching for a vehicle, and had plenty of opportunities to buy something that wasn’t practical for me or my family. But I can tell God that,
- “I need this….[fill in the blank].”
It is difficult to discern the intention of my heart.
This is the exact problem that Israel had. In 1 Sam. 8 Israel complained about Samuel’s sons who ruled as judges over them. The complaint was legitimate since Samuel’s sons were not living according to the Covenant. They were ripping people off, unjustly accepting bribes instead of protecting the freedom and welfare of God’s people.
The problem was not their complaint but the true pursuit of their heart. The elders of Israel used the current problem as a smokescreen to hide the true intention of their heart. What they really wanted was to be like the other nations. They weren’t so concerned about justice and honoring Yahweh and his Covenant. So God gave them what they thought they wanted and in the long term it did not work out so well. They pursued idols instead of God, the one true God who would not let them down.
How about you and me? What is in our hearts? When we face obstacles do we use the current crisis to hide the true intentions of our heart? In other words are we trying to manipulate God by presenting our current problem to him so that we can get what we want?
If we want to live true spiritual lives before Christ, then we need to be honest before God about our intentions. God knows if we are seeking to do what is right or if our hearts are turned away from him. Often times, the most spiritual thing is to endure suffering in the midst of adversity and to wait for God to provide. When we try to take actions in our own hands we can make our suffering worse in the long run, but if we wait on the Lord he will provide for us.
In my desire to enter full time ministry, I am waiting on the Lord for the right time and place. I choose to do this. He will provide in the right time. I am keeping my eyes and heart open for the right opportunity as I browse for jobs. With my vehicle, I prayed and after looking at hundreds and hundreds of vehicles online, I finally found a great vehicle at a super low price that is in excellent condition. And I didn’t have to take out a loan. It was paid in cash, and I have money left over to spend on it in case it breaks down. God provided!
Where are you struggling to trust God’s provision? Will you wait patiently instead of trying to manipulate your circumstances? God knows the “smokescreens” of our heart.