One of my favorite times as a kid was the week of my birthday. Yes, I anticipated the actual day of my birth and all the presents that came with it, but the excitement of opening the mailbox to a colorful envelope with my name on it spun my mind.
And of course it was because I wanted to read all of the nice things my relatives said about me. I mean, that’s why kids love getting cards, right? It doesn’t have anything at all to do with the possibility of money stashed inside.
I have to admit that many cards went unread when I found what I really wanted – that crisp $5 or $10 or sometimes $20 bill. I was just a kid making eight bucks every two weeks for allowance which, I know, is more than some and less than others. But my birthday week was like hitting the jackpot and I couldn’t wait to collect my winnings and head to the store.
I remember the voice of my wise mother, “I wouldn’t spend your money on anything right now because your birthday is just a few days away.”
“Huh?” I’d respond, the smell of new things chasing away whatever it was she mumbled about. “Sounds good.”
Sometimes I’d listen and other times my compulsion would win and we’d leave the store with an item that was possibly already wrapped at home for me. But experience often seems to be the best teacher and one year I learned a hard lesson. I bought something for myself that my sister had already bought for me. She was sad and upset and I felt like a jerk. I’d robbed her of the chance to give me a present she knew I would love. I wish I could say I learned my lesson.
One morning not too long ago, I was spending some time with the Lord when he showed me a picture of a wrapped present. The paper was a variety of bright colors and the bow was perfectly tied on top. I felt myself lean forward, preparing to run and rip the box open. I didn’t know what was inside but I had a sense it was something I really wanted.
That’s when I heard the Lord say, Don’t rush to get something now that I’m planning on giving you later.
I can’t remember hurting my sister again by buying things so close to my birthday but there have been many times I went out and grabbed what I wanted when God was planning on giving it to me later.
There will always be the exception but I’m gonna trust that most of the desires of our hearts are not evil. Physical, emotional, spiritual; it doesn’t matter. It’s okay to want things and it’s okay to dream but it’s important to remember this:
Getting the desires of our hearts will never be as good as it can be when we allow God to give them to us.
Don’t rush the timeline God has laid out. If we do, we’ll have to deal with the consequences. They might be easily managed or put us into serious trouble. The consequences vary but there is one that remains constant – the disappointment God feels when we don’t allow him to give us the things we desire.
He loves us so much and it brings a ton of joy to his heart to see the smiles on our faces when we unwrap the presents he has carefully purchased for us. Think about the emotions we feel when our kids open gifts we put thought into. If you don’t have kids, consider how you feel when it’s someone you care about opening what you know is gonna make them smile. Magnify it exponentially and we might have an inkling of how God feels in that moment.
Now imagine they open the box, glance up with indifference and say, “I already have this.”
Yeah, I could say not to rush the timeline because of things like God’s perfect timing and it’s okay to trust him because he loves us and what we care about. Those things are true and important but when we dig down deep enough to the real foundation, we find relationship is what everything else stands on.
Relationship says: Don’t go out and grab the desires of your heart using your own schemes and devices because it hurts God’s heart.
God wants to give us the things we desire in an assortment of ways. So let’s put away our own schemes, devices, compulsion, impatience; and let him.
Jesse and Kara Birkey