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Love God, and Do What You Want

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 ESV)

While sitting in silence recently, contemplating my Lenten devotional, I came to understand something that had been worrying me for nearly my whole life.

It’s been my dream to write books ever since I realized that books come from people writing them. I’ve planned to do it, poked away at it, spent time and money and credit hours on it, and frequently felt guilty for doing so. Last September, circumstances finally came together to allow me to quit my day job and write full time, and it’s been fantastic.

I felt like God was clearly orchestrating it, but I was also worried. How could it be that God would call me to do something that I already want so desperately to do for myself? Isn’t my Christian life supposed to involve sacrifice and hardship, suffering and persecution? (Apparently, this is another way to phrase the fear I wrote about last time, that God would send me to Africa against my will.) It’s so hard for me to believe that my Call could also be the thing that I want most in the world to do, even though that’s part of how you even figure out what your Call is!

The reason I’ve always been so hesitant is that I’ve also sensed some unholy longings mixed in with my desire to get published. Sure, I wouldn’t mind fame or adulation, but even more than that, I want to write something that will outlive me. I’m seeking immortality, but on human terms: a reason for people to remember me after I die. (Seriously, you guys, I remember journaling about this at least as early as high school.)

In short, what I want is significance.

Not coincidentally, significance is one of the fundamental human needs. When I wrote about finally understanding Psalm 37:4, what led me to the revelation was realizing how all the things we want boil down to one of four fundamental needs (safety, love, autonomy, and purpose [or significance]). Delighting ourselves in God fulfills the desires of our hearts—not every single thing we might want, but all of our deepest needs.

What I needed to learn was that I wasn’t wrong about my Call, nor was I wrong to feel a sense of unease about my yearning for temporal glory. I was only wrong to think that my conviction about my motives meant I had misidentified the Call.

With constant vigilance and guidance from the Spirit, Christians don’t have to be concerned about impure motives. Instead, we can act from the safe place of being loved and fulfilled by God, without needing others or our work to meet our needs. As St. Augustine wrote, “Love God, and do what you want.”

It’s tempting to think that I’ve solved the riddle and now there’s nothing standing between me and best-selling stardom. In reality, there will still be many bumps in the road—opportunities for me to remember that only God can satisfy me. After all, the walk of faith is filled with suffering and trials; I just don’t have to go looking for them. And when they find me, I’ll be ready to recognize them.

Abigail can be reached by email here. She really wishes she’d figured this out sooner, but better late than never!

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