Stone heartAbout a year ago I traveled to speak to a group of women in Alabama. As soon as I arrived one of the women greeted me warmly, “We just loved reading your book, Bravehearts.” I answered, “Thank you. I wrote that book almost six years ago. A lot has changed in my life since then.” Innocently she replied with her sweet Southern accent, “Well, we can’t wait to hear! We just hope it’s all good!”

Something in my heart twisted. The past six years rewound through my brain. There had been a lot of disappointment. Shattered dreams. Heart ache. But I knew my final answer, “I wouldn’t trade these last six years for anything!” I knew that God had been in the process of showing me what I most deeply wanted.

We begin our adult lives with a lot of ideals for how life ought to be. When the real crowds out the ideal, we turn in our dreams for a few schemes of how we can get what we want. I could certainly recount the ways that I had tried to fix my life, save my life, create my life, keep my life on track – all bringing me to the resolution that I could not set myself free. I must be set free!

Jesus issues an invitation for us on this journey of desire: “Come! Is anyone thirsty? Come! All who will, come and drink, Drink freely of the Water of Life! (Revelation 22:17). He waits patiently for thirsty women – like us – to discover that He is the true longing of our hearts.

When I am asked the heart wrenching question, “Why doesn’t God give us what we want?” I know that I am not smart enough to answer that question for everyone. But I am learning that God knows the context in which I am most likely to develop an intimate relationship with Him. For me that has been learning in some humbling and humiliating places that God really does love me when I am good for nothing. His love for me has compelled me to begin to want Him when He seems good for nothing. In other words, I want Him when He is not acting like a vending machine in my life, giving me everything that I ask for. I just want Him, because I love Him.

I remember sitting with a group of women not too long ago talking about this. One dear woman who had just unexpectedly lost her husband of thirty years to a heart attack said, “Well, if this is God’s context for me, then ‘No thank you.’” Her honest response reminds us that it is scary to believe that He is wooing us – loving us – in the most painful times of life to Himself.

Henri Nouwen wrote, “The hardness of God is softer than the kindness of men, because His compulsion is our liberation.” God is relentless in freeing us from ourselves so that we might be free to want Him. I used to believe that we were all desperately searching for God, but my experience of redemption in the broken places of my story has taught me the deeper truth is that God is searching for us. Redemption does not mean that God meets our needs and then our souls stop longing. We don’t give up craving. We give in to craving God.