I wrote a post a while back that never saw the light of day–and for good reason. It was written in a fit of depression as I tried to express my exhaustion with the burden of hope. In it I suggested that hope was something I didn’t want anymore. In fact, I said that I wanted to crush it dead and rip it out of me. It took a while for me to realize that what I was really exhausted by wasn’t hope, it was myself.
I have an ongoing struggle with trying to discern what God wants from what I want. You hear it all the time, people say, “If it’s God’s will, he’ll open a door.” The problem with that advice is that God isn’t the only one opening doors. I can open doors on my own and Satan certainly opens them all around me, all the time. It’s figuring out which one to walk through that is the problem.
Quite a few times in my life I’ve tried to walk by faith and walked through an open door only to find a precipice waiting. I’m still bruised from those falls and these days I find it harder and harder to take those leaps of faith. I feel like I’ve trusted God and he’s let me down, let me fall. Why should I bother trusting him again?
This week, over lunch, I discussed this with a wise, old friend of mine. How do I tell the difference between what God wants and what I want to see? He chewed his food and didn’t reply for a long time. I wasn’t sure if he’d heard me or not. Then he looked at me and said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” He shrugged, as if to imply that there was nothing more to be said. He was right. My first reaction was irritation, I hate having scripture quoted at me, but as I opened my mouth to offer my ‘yeah, but’, I realized that I had nowhere to go.
The mistake I’ve made is trying to find a way to align what I want out of life with what God wants out of me. I have always tried to find a way to serve both desires but I can’t serve both God and myself and I’m sure that far too often I’ve ended up serving only the latter. My efforts to serve myself have been consistently confounded and in retrospect, I don’t know that I have ever sought the kingdom first. Therein lay the root of my depression.
When I wrote that I wanted hope to die, what I was really trying to say was that I wanted my self-service to die. I want to be dead to my own desire and alive in God’s desire for me. That’s not an easy prayer. In fact, it’s damnably hard to pray that and mean it. But I pray it. If only by rote at times, I pray it. And my hope is that one day my desires and his will be one.
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.