The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:1
Have you ever felt you weren’t accomplishing what God wanted you to do? That you have let Him down and not fulfilled the life purpose He has given you?
That’s exactly how I felt recently. I was taking stock of my life and my accomplishments—or lack or them. I felt God had given me so many opportunities over the years and I had not followed His leadings as much as I should have.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have not just been sitting around doing nothing. There have been countless occasions over the years when I was led by God to be in the right place at the right time or do the right thing, blessing others as well as being blessed.
But that morning, I got pretty hard on myself for not doing more of what I knew God wanted me to do.
In tears, I asked God to forgive me for failing to live up to the purpose He had revealed to me. I prayed for the courage and strength to follow Him more faithfully.
God spoke to me.
And right there in the midst of my self-condemnation God spoke to me. It was so clear and so direct. And so reassuring. And I know it came from God because it is the last thing I could have come up with to reassure myself.
God said to me: “You are right where I want you.”
I felt like I had accomplished so little—that I was just dog-paddling in circles. How could I be right where He wanted me? But the message came again and again.
Now the tears flowed more freely but they were tears of joy, tears of hope, tears of gratitude. I had to admit God had been preparing my heart all those years to serve Him. He had been washing away the hurts and fears, had served up big slices of humble pie and was constantly guiding me each step of the way.
The outward picture of my life, my personal accomplishments, etc. were not the point. My heart was right where God wanted it—faithful and willing to do His will.
My simple prayer
For many years I have prayed this simple prayer:
Dear God, prepare me for what You have prepared for me.
And He has.
I suddenly thought of Moses out in the wilderness before he returned to Egypt to deliver the children of Israel from slavery. He was out there 40 years before God spoke to him in the burning bush and told him to go before Pharaoh. During that 40 years, it must have seemed to him that he wasn’t accomplishing much, but God was preparing his heart for a higher purpose.
We may try through human wit and will to put ourselves in a position to do what we think God’s will is. But God knows our innermost thoughts and He alone can fully prepare our hearts to serve Him. And He does it on His timetable. If it takes God 40 years to prepare my heart to serve Him, that’s fine with me.
The next thing I knew, the poem below almost wrote itself. The words just flowed onto the page.
Moses to God: Just Before the Burning Bush
Well Lord, it’s been about 40 years
and it seems I’ve been wandering in this wilderness forever,
just taking care of sheep.
There was a time when I thought You had grand things for me to do—
important deeds to accomplish.
But here I am tending sheep.
Well, if that’s where You want me,
That’s where I’ll be. I sure have learned a lot, though.
It’s gotten to the point where I have to trust You
for every little detail about what to do each day:
where to go, where not to go,
where to find enough water and grass to feed the flocks.
I couldn’t do it without You, Lord.
Thinking back, I can laugh now
about how I used to try and figure everything out all on my own.
(I thought I was so smart, being the Prince of Egypt.)
I sure made a mess of things when I didn’t ask for Your help…
or didn’t follow Your directions when I did ask.
But You were always so incredibly patient with me—
why I don’t know—and You still are.
I sure am grateful, Lord.
You know, I’ve learned a lot watching and tending these sheep.
When they follow the shepherd, everything is fine.
When they go off on their own, accidentally or even on purpose,
they usually get into trouble.
I guess people aren’t too different from sheep.
When they follow You as their Shepherd, You take care of them.
And when they don’t—well, we know what happens.
They get in trouble and You rescue them.
Lord, I don’t know exactly when I realized
that I am one of Your sheep and that You are my Shepherd.
But I sure do appreciate You taking such good care of me.
You always guide me and provide everything I need.
And You’ve protected me so many times I can’t count them any more.
You’re the only Shepherd people should follow.
I wish I could help everyone understand that.
The world would be such a better place.
I know, I know… there I go again, doing all the talking.
What’s that Lord?
You want me to go over to the back side of the desert? Again?
Okay, that’s fine with me. Let’s go.
I was there just the day before yesterday
and it looked the same as it has for 40 years.
But whatever You say Lord.
Well, there’s Mt. Horeb—just as beautiful as ever.
Wait a minute. Something’s going on up there.
It looks like…It looks like a bush is on fire,
but… it’s not burning up.
I’d better check this out!
If that’s okay with You, Lord.
I’d love to hear your experiences on how God is preparing your heart. Please share in the comment box below.