When the bible says that God gives us the desires of our heart, it’s true. It’s just that we are often too stubborn to recognize the desires of our heart. The Book of Sirach is part of what is called the Apocrypha scripture and appears in the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible. It’s considered a book of wisdom, but this book doesn’t appear in Protestant bibles. These books are controversial, with some doubting whether they are divinely-inspired – which is why they didn’t make the “cut” in the Protestant bible, I suppose. But even if it didn’t pass muster to make it into the scriptures, I still think this is a verse worth reading, even though I admit that my interpretation is probably a bit unconventional:
Don’t follow your inclination or your strength, in order to walk in the desires of your heart. Sirach 5:2
This is how I read this verse. “Don’t follow your inclination” – because we have to grow up and into our true, authentic selves. All sorts of influences have gotten us off track, teaching us that we want the latest gadget, or the newest style house, or a killer tennis game so that we can climb that ladder that is standing right in front of us, enticing us to scale it at all costs. “Don’t follow your strength” – maybe because we’ve learned how we can win at life, we forget to ask whether winning is our ultimate goal. Just because we CAN muscle our way through something, doesn’t mean we WANT TO or SHOULD.
“…in order to walk in the desires of your heart…” Ahhh, there we go. For us to discover the desires of our heart, it’s going to require more than our inclinations and strengths. The Holy Spirit will guide us, our community will round us out, our accountability partners will challenge us, to look beyond the obvious and discover, perhaps, the profound.
Today, let’s pay attention to the smaller, quieter, less obvious voices in our lives. The ones that don’t tell us what we want to hear all the time, but help us find our true selves, the “us” that loves God and others at least as much as we love ourselves.