The Desires of Your Heart

Cosmos - ShelliBourque

Desire: The natural longing that is excited by the enjoyment or the thought of any good, and impels to action or effort its continuance or possession; an eager wish to obtain or enjoy. (Source)

Our affections, or desires, are perhaps the greatest evidence of whether or not our life is found in Christ. Our pious words can lie. Our noble actions can deceive. But our desires are truth sayers. Though often hidden behind a facade of righteousness, our desires reveal and sometimes betray our heart.

Want to expose idols in your life? Take a long, thoughtful look at what you really, really, really want. Our desires act like pointers to God or to a myriad of false gods, from accolades to security, comfort to wealth, popularity to power.

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. [Psalm 37:4 HCSB]

There are a host of false teachers who will try to lead you to believe that God is not much more than a genie in a bottle whose greatest desire is to give you your every wish. Perhaps you know these lies are the stuff of fairy tales and this is not what David meant when he wrote that line of the psalm. You realize that it means God will give you new desires.

And you’re scared.

Scared because you like the desires you have now. You want Him to fulfill these desires, not give you new ones.

But notice, God is not merely saying no to the desires you have; He is giving you new desires. He is not coercing and forcing you to accept new desires. God works inside you to change what you desire so that your desires align with His desires. But they are still YOUR desires. And they are your DESIRES. You WANT to do them. And the desires you now have will not be taken from you; they will simply no longer be, well, desirable.

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. [Philippians 2:13 HCSB]

So don’t be afraid of the desires God will give. Recognize that changed desires are evidence of your salvation. Trust God with your desires, knowing He always acts for your benefit and His glory. And enjoy the blessing of God’s working out their fulfillment.

Have you discovered that old desires have lost their appeal? Has God given you a new desire that astounds you? I would love to hear about it!

On Dignity

Dignity - ShelliBourque

I’ve heard it said that books do not change us. It’s paragraphs and sentences that have the greatest impact. Golden nuggets of wisdom and truth, small enough to  be remembered, pondered, and digested into our lives. I came across just that sort of sentence two months ago and I am still marveling at the truth and grace in the words.

Lisa Leonard shared an exchange with her husband in which she lamented that she will always change diapers. Their oldest son was born with a disability that will likely require that he be diapered his entire life. If you’ve had even one child to diaper for two to three years, you can appreciate how daunting it must be to  face seemingly endless years of diapering. Her husband posed the thought that diapering their son may be one of the most important things she does all day. Thinking of all the responsibilities she carried, Lisa couldn’t imagine how this could be so. Her husband explained:

Think of heaven. David’s body will be whole. He won’t have a disability. And imagine him saying, “Thank you, Mom. You gave me dignity when I couldn’t care for myself.”

Dignity. It is a word seldom used and yet it is full of beauty and grace.

When God created Adam and Eve, He bestowed upon them His very nature. Countless animals were created before them, many with beautiful form, powerful limbs and regal stature. But none compared to mankind, formed by the hand of God to bear His image. As the pinnacle of His creation, mankind was the most dignified of all creatures possessing beauty, intellect, creativity, love, compassion, morality.

When Adam and Eve sinned they saw that they were naked and they were ashamed. They attempted to hide their shame by covering themselves with fig leaves. God sacrificed animals to provide them with skins that would restore their dignity. Even though marred by sin, the dignity of mankind is important to God. We reflect the image of God when we serve in ways that bring dignity to one another.

  • Caring for the physical needs of a mentally or physically impaired child
  • Bathing and diapering an elderly parent
  • Providing a home and a family, even if temporarily, to a foster child
  • Treating an elderly person as if they were eighty instead of eight
  • Recognizing a student’s learning disability and not embarrassing them in front of other students
  • Showing compassion and individual attention to a patient in a hospital bed
  • Paying the bill of someone about to have their electricity turned off

As Lisa’s husband pointed out, it is not the seemingly grand accomplishments that are the most important. Sometimes the most important act of service we can perform in a day is the one that seems most mundane, yet is the one that allows us to reflect the image of God to others and extend dignity to one of His beloved.

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me  in;  I was naked and you clothed  Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited  Me.’ [Matthew 25:3 HCSB]

Adversity as Blessing

Shipwreck - ShelliBourque

Sagging and water-stained drywall. Just days before we uncovered the unthinkable in our bathroom, we discovered the telltale evidence of a roof leak in our hallway upstairs.

Clearly we are facing adversity of the homeowner sort. It would be easy to become discouraged knowing we are facing interruptions to our daily routines, time spent with numerous contractors, and our own repair work over the course of several weeks. Even more is the hefty expense the repairs demand.

Yet, in the midst of the adversity, there is much for which we are thankful. We are grateful that one leak was discovered quickly before more costly damage occurred and that the other was uncovered during a home improvement project. Were it not for the project, several years of a slow leak would have continued to go undetected and caused even more damage. We are also grateful for friendly and helpful contractors, and an emergency fund to pay them.

Despite the shock, inconvenience, and expense, we are keenly aware that trials do not determine our character. Instead, adversity reveals and refines our character.

Adversity Reveals Our Character

It is easy to exhibit godly character when life is easy, pleasant and going as planned. But what happens when trials come? When leaks spring forth, relationships falter, wealth is lost, or health fails?  Anger, worry, pride, fear. Gratitude, patience, faithfulness. From one end of the spectrum to the other, our character is most easily seen when life is hard. Like steam that whistles from a pressure cooker, our character wells up from within and bursts forth in its truest and unveiled form when the pressures of life bear down.

Like the water damage we uncovered, our sin is exposed. It is scary to see ugliness spew out. But it is good. It is good to have these opportunities to see the hidden sin within. Only when it is exposed can it be addressed.

Adversity Refines Our Character

Once our sin is exposed, we can try to hide it, ignore it, or wish it away. But it doesn’t go away. Had we chosen to ignore and simply put new materials over the damage we uncovered, it would make everything look pretty for a while. But without fixing the problem, the water would continue to cause damage. The next time it became exposed, it would be even more ugly, more rotted, and more expensive to repair.

The same is true in us. When we ignore our sin, it festers within. Anger leads to bitterness, worry leads to fear.

Instead, when adversity exposes our sin, we can take the opportunity to face it in all its ugliness. We can repair our misshaped faith, we can remove our rotten pride, we can replace our self-centered notions. We can allow God to refine us in the midst of adversity through repentance, prayer and godly counsel.

Are you facing adversity? What is it exposing in you? Instead of cowering, boldly turn to God. He desires to heal the pain inflicted upon you. He desires to remove the chains of bondage that hold you. He desires to give you rest as you cast your burdens upon Him. He desires to graciously teach you His ways.

Yes, adversity is hard. But it is also a blessing. Could you, would you, see it that way?

Hidden Below the Surface: Exposing the Sin Within

Water over rocks - ShelliBourque

My gut wrenched with equal parts dismay and relief. As the layer of tile was peeled away, the blackness continued. When would it end? How much farther did the damage extend? Shocked at the sight, I knew I shouldn’t be surprised. Hadn’t I said for years there was something wrong in our bathroom, even joking that is was possessed? After all, I’m a fairly clean-seeking person and yet even using bleach in the tub couldn’t keep the mold away for long. Isn’t that the reason we had planned this bathroom remodel in the first place? That silly tub with it wall tile a bit too far up for a good seal of caulk to keep water from seeping behind it. The one that had the original enamel wear off and the glaze repair peel away. The one that forced us to rip out all the tile so that it could be replaced.

Yes, I knew something was wrong and I felt relieved that we hadn’t been wrong to gut everything. But this. I never imagined this.

Continue Reading

In Which I Discover My Place in the Kitchen

Baking Artisan Bread - ShelliBourque

Boulangerie de Bourque

We decided if we ever open a family bakery this will be its name. I think it has a fabulous ring to it and baking for a living doesn’t sound nearly as farfetched as it once did.

My husband has always been the cook and a baker. Chocolate chip cookies are his specialty. I, on the other hand, have only specialized in being the cleaner upper in the kitchen. And a mighty fine one at that. He cooks; I clean up the mess. It’s been our thing for over twenty years.

Until now.

Continue Reading