Dannah Gresh: I want to share with you today some deep thoughts about lies we believe about guys. As I was approaching this True Woman event, God really put on my heart to speak to you from a fresh perspective. I’ve never shared this teaching before.
As I was having my quiet time with the Lord through the summer, He kept saying to me, “Dannah, I want you to go to the young women at this fall’s True Woman event with fresh emotions from your heart that you’ve wrestled with.”
I was, like, “God, I’m a few years . . . I’m not that much older, but I’m a few years older than they are, so I’m probably dealing with different things.”
He said, “No. At the root of it, it’s all the same.”
Since I began a dialogue with the Lord about what it is that’s at the root of guys that’s at the root of something I’m struggling with, do you know what I felt God revealed to me over the summer? The root of all the lies that you believe about guys and anything else in your life is desire.
I want you to write that word down—desire. It can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing. In fact, I have a definition. I want us to start this day with two definitions that I think are pretty important as we go forward in looking for freedom from the lies that we believe.
The first definition I want you to see is the definition for desire. A desire is anything we wish for, long for, or crave for. Desire in itself could be holy or unholy.
So, can you see from that definition, that desire can be good, but desire can also be bad?
I also want you to highlight from that definition that it’s something we long for. Now, how many of you know that there are things that we just can’t stop thinking about—they consume our thoughts all day long, and we’re just waiting for the next moment when we can exercise our mind muscle to think about those things?
Girls, it could be three days before “happy week”—if you know what I’m talking about—(laughter)—and you could be thinking about chocolate or a Papa John’s pizza and you’re craving it or you’re longing for it. Okay, that would be a mini-desire.
Then there are these big desires that we have. I sat down with my 16-year old daughter Lexie a couple of nights ago as I was unwrapping this teaching. I said, “Lexie, you know that feeling you get when you like a guy but you don’t know if he likes you back?”
You want to know, but if you’re a girl like Lexie, you have given God the reins of your heart for these teen years of your life, so you’re not going after every guy like a boy-crazy maniac but you’re waiting on God. So Lexie does not feel released at this time in her life to explore guy/girl relationships, but she had moments thinking, “I wonder if he thinks I’m as cute?” You know that emotion, right?
I’m continuing, “Lexie, what is that emotion? What do you call that desire? It’s, like, a big desire. It doesn’t go away for a long time, and it does not go away with a Papa John’s pizza. You know what I’m saying? (laughter) So what is that called?”
She sat there quietly for a long time, and then she said, “I don’t know. I bet the French have a word for it.”(laughter) She said, “Because the French have words for everything. Did you know there’s a word in the French vocabulary for being alone out in the woods? It’s not like being alone anywhere. It’s being alone out in the woods. So I bet the French have a word for that feeling of desire for a guy and wanting to know if he likes you back, but I do not have that word.”
There are things in our desires that we don’t have words for. Do you know what I mean? There are things that . . .we don’t know how to say what we’re feeling, and I want to tell you that today I’m grappling with, wrestling with a desire that I don’t have any good words to describe.
I really want to start out our time together with prayer to ask God to bring our desires to the surface so that at the end of today He would be the object of that desire, and anything within the way of that would be moved—moved by our choice and by our will. Would you pray with me?
Father God, I thank You so much for this time to be with these beautiful young women, for Your Word to provide truth, for the coming revelation of that truth for each of our hearts.
Lord, there are, like, 500 of us in this room, but You’re going to make this teaching applicable to each of our hearts. You’re going to let Your Holy Spirit come into this room and interpret Your Word for exactly where we are today.
Will You do that, in Your power and in Your might and in the name of Jesus Christ? Amen.
All right, along with that word desire, I want you to write down this word: the word is delight, and I want you to understand the definition of delight as we move into the Word today. To delight in something is to dwell on something until it becomes a desire. You see, the delight is what happens before desire can be. It is the process of birthing desire. Again, it can be either holy or unholy.
Just as Erin delighted in the idea of having someone who would never leave her as a teenage girl, as she delighted in the idea of having someone who would be faithful to her because she had felt abandonment as a young woman through her parents’ divorce. She chewed on that. She wrestled with that. She dwelled on it, and it became her desire to never be alone, to never be abandoned again.
Well, that’s kind of a good thing, right? God does not want us to be abandoned, and, as she shared in her testimony, He promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV). It’s a promise of His Word. So, right there in that very, very, very simple experience that Erin just shared with you, we can see that there was a good peace in that desire and yet it went wrong. It went awry. It became an unholy desire, right? It gave her lies that she could believe on and dwell on.
So, what I want you to do right now is to take just a moment, and I’ve already asked the Holy Spirit all morning to do this for you, but will you just write down one word that is symbolic of a desire that you are struggling with right now? Now, before you do that, I want to share with you a desire that I have had my whole life that I’m struggling with an awful lot right now.
It’s a desire that I’ve had since . . . I can’t even remember when it started . . .but it’s a desire to have a horse, a beautiful horse. In my mind’s eye, when I was little, this horse was a beautiful Palomino, with just perfect pale, tan skin and that blonde mane and that blonde tail.
I don’t remember the first time I had that desire, but I know I was very young. I do remember the first time that I began to dwell on it, the first time that I began to chew on it. I wasn’t very old. I was not 8 or 10 years old yet.
Growing up, I remember watching my uncle who was a competitor in Quarter Horse reining. He was a champion. He has these beautiful, amazing animals that he is friends with, rides with, and wins with. I was a very small girl when one day we came to his, and I saw him sitting on top of this beautiful horse.
For the first time, he asked me, “Do you want to sit on this horse?” I remember him crawling off of that enormous creature. It looked so huge to me. It was like a skyscraper. He lifted me up into that saddle, and I sat there. I remember thinking, “I’ve got to get me one of these.” (laughter)
That was the first time that I began to really dwell on the idea of having a horse. From that point on, I was hooked. I needed a horse. I remember being 12 years old and getting my very first Briar horse model. Do you know the Briar horse models? Have you ever seen them? They’re little plastic toys.
Some of you have the horse bug in here, don’t you? I can see it. A lot of little girls have that horse bug.
Did you know I vetted my husband based on the fact that one day he would allow me to have a horse and he would be part of that dream with me? I was already engaged to Bob when I said, “Oh, honey, there’s this one more thing, one more little test you’ve got to pass.” He said, “Yes, I’ll dream that dream with you.”
Well, I’m 42 years old, and I still desire to have a horse. I’ve never had one, and I would like to have one, but it’s an unmet desire, and it’s the kind of a thing that sometimes my emotions can get out of whack with if I’m not careful.
I wonder if you can understand what it’s like to want something that’s just out of your grasp. Maybe it’s a 4.0 GPA. Maybe it’s to be the best athlete in your school. Maybe it’s to have a perfect SAT score. Maybe it’s that guy that you’ve noticed. Maybe it’s guys in general that parents have taken off the table.
But do you know what it’s like to have a desire that won’t go away and you know you can’t have what you desire? What is that desire? Write a word down right now.
While you’re finishing that up, I want you to turn to Psalm 37:4 (ESV). It’s a verse that’s going to be very familiar to you, but I want to take you a little bit into the Hebrew language, and I want to also show you how some of these words are used in other parts of Scripture. So maybe they’ll illuminate what God wants to do with your desires today.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Delight yourself in the Lord—remember, to delight yourself is to dwell on something until it becomes a desire. To delight yourself is to give muscle to desire, to build the muscle to have the desire. And remember, it can be either holy or unholy. So, to understand God’s heart on it, let’s take a look at how the word is used in Scripture.
First, I want you to look at this: in the Hebrew language, the two words “delight yourself” together were the Hebrew word anag. I don’t know if I’m saying that right. I have a Hebrew dictionary for my Bible that I use all the time, and, girls, I’m totally driving without a license when I use it, but I’m hungry enough for God’s Word that I want to know exactly what He’s talking about. Sometimes it’s so different in the Hebrew language, and it illuminates so much.
Listen to what the word delight means in Hebrew: It means “to enjoy, to be delicate, to become soft and pliable.”
Now, I want you to picture that with me for just a moment. When we dwell on something, don’t we become moved by it? If we dwelled long enough on a Papa John’s pizza on a day when we’re choosing to fast, girl, let me tell you what, by 5 o’clock, you’ll be eating Papa John’s pizza! You know what I’m saying? If we choose to chew on it mentally, if we choose to dwell on it, and we choose to make it the focus of our attention, eventually the desire overrides us, and we’re going to have that thing, right?
It makes us, if you will, vulnerable. Delighting in something makes us vulnerable to it. I want you to write that down. I want you to know that what you choose, the pictures you hang in your bedroom to feast on every day, whether it’s a picture of a horse, or a picture . . . what’s that cute little guy with the weird hair, Justin Bieber? (laughter) . . .the dude has weird hair . . . It will make you go that direction! The girl who keeps saying, “He can write backwards; he can ride his bike backwards.” Okay, she might be dwelling on Justin Bieber.
But whatever’s in front of us is what we’re going to become vulnerable to. Do you hear what I’m saying? Do you understand what delight is for you today as a young woman of the new millennium?
Now, I want us to look at a couple of places in Scripture where the same exact word is used. In fact, I want us to go back to one passage in Scripture that Nancy and I used very heavily as we wrote Lies Young Women Believe. It’s Genesis 3:6, so turn in your Bibles to Genesis 3:6, and we’re going to find where that word anog is used once again.
Remember, it is a word that means you are focusing on it; you are becoming more delicate; you are becoming soft and pliable toward the object of desire that is out of your reach. You are becoming vulnerable.
In Genesis 3:6 (NIV), it says, “When the woman” . . . who’s the woman in this passage? It’s Eve. “When Eve . . . saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable”. . . guess what word that is . . . anog . . . “desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”
How many of you know that was not a good moment in the history of mankind? But Eve chose to become focused on, to dwell on, to chew on, to delight in the fruit, and when she dwelled on it, she became vulnerable to it.
Girls, that’s how our emotions get out of whack when we dwell on the things that we shouldn’t. It was a piece of fruit. Now, God had already said that everything He had created in the garden was . . . what? . . . good. I believe that tree had a good and noble purpose if Eve and Adam had waited for God’s timing to receive it, and I don’t know if that would have been at the end of time, but the fruit would be still good. God had declared the tree good, but He had also put limits and boundaries on the use of the tree just as He has put limits and boundaries on you and me in this day and age.
There are things that God has for you that are good in the right time, but now is not that time, and if you choose to dwell on and delight yourself in those things before it’s time, you are making yourself vulnerable to the lies that Satan.
Good things in our lives can become unholy desires. A great example of this is Abraham and his son Isaac. God says that the fruit of a man’s womb is good, that children and offspring are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3, paraphrase). So, when you look at the relationship of Abraham and Isaac, it should be this beautiful thing, and yet God says to Abraham, “I want you to sacrifice that son to Me” (Genesis 22:2, paraphrase).
Why? How can a child be bad? I can tell you. There’s a little heart inside each of us, a spiritual heart, and in that little heart there’s a throne. Who is supposed to sit on that throne? God is supposed to sit on that throne. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV).
The throne of your heart was crafted for the God of the universe. It was not crafted for a son. It was not crafted for horses. It was not crafted for perfect GPA, and it was not crafted for a guy. Anything that attempts to sit on that throne of your heart becomes an unholy desire, whether it could possibly one day be good, because it’s competing with what God desires to have for us and that is Him.
So, does God want you to stop delighting in things? Does God want you to stop desiring things? I don’t think so. Let’s look at the word desire in that passage: Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires.
The word desire is the word misala. It means to wish for, to long for, to crave. It’s the definition I gave you just a few moments ago, and God wants to give you what you wish for, what you long for, and what you crave, but more than He wants to give you things in your life, He wants to give you lasting passion, lasting joy, and the only thing that will truly give you lasting passion and lasting joy is a consuming desire for Him.
So, here on this earth, your purpose as a true woman is to glorify God and to enjoy Him, not just on this earth, but for forever. God wants you to enjoy Him forever. I want to share with you that sometimes the only way to enjoy God forever is to crucify those desires that either sitting on the throne of your heart or are getting awfully close.
Four years ago I was on a mission trip. I was on a “never-the-same-mission trip.” It’s a mission trip that Susie Shellenberger, the former editor of Rio, the new editor of Susie Magazine designed. It’s one of the coolest trips you’ll ever go on. In fact, Lexie, my 16-year-old daughter, went with me. She was about 12 at the time that we went . . . it was four years ago. We went to Peru, and we had such a fantastic time.
During the day, each day, we were ministering to Peruvian children who were very underprivileged. Lexie fell in love with this one little Peruvian girl who always wore pink. She was covered in pink from head to toe every day, and Lexie was always doing this drama that shared the gospel. On the last day, the little girl came up to her and in Spanish and English together, they were able to figure out that this little girl wanted so badly to be like Lexie. So Lexie painted her face to kind of match Lexie’s face from the drama.
Lexie also got the opportunity to pray with that little girl to receive Christ, and God gave her just enough Spanish to be able to do it with her in her native language. It was such a cool thing.
Every night, when our hearts were just bursting full of good things, we would gather together. It was kind of like a big youth rally. Barlow Girl was with us that year. Lexie was Barlow Girl. Matthew West was with us that year, and then all these great Bible teachers. I was honored to be one of the Bible teachers that year.
On that trip, how many of you know that sometimes when you are out to minister for the Lord that He says, “Oh, by the way, I’m going to do some work in you, too, girl.” Has that ever happened to you? Well, that happened to me on this trip.
On one particular night, Susie delivered this fantastic message on crucifying our desires of this world so that our desire could be for God. Now, just before we’d been on that mission trip, my husband and I had looked at a plot of 12 acres, a little tiny horse farm. It wasn’t really . . . you couldn’t really call it a farm. It just had barely a horse stall and some land. But I’d been searching for that dream for so long.
Do you know that as we looked at that property and tried to crunch the numbers, God made it really clear that as He has entrusted the ministry of Pure Freedom to my husband and I and also the ministry of a Christian high school that our finances weren’t ever going to be free enough to be able to afford a plot of land like that.
I went to this mission trip kind of . . . have you ever been a little frustrated with God? “God, I mean, really. I’m working myself silly for You, and the only thing I’ve ever said is I want a horse.”
He said, “No, that’s not true. You wanted a husband; you wanted kids; you wanted a house. Don’t you remember all the things you wanted?”
“Do you remember how faithful I’ve been?”
“This one I want you to take off the table.” I felt Him saying that. Have you ever felt God say things to you?
Well, Susie delivered this amazing message that night that was all about crucifying our desire and how sometimes we have to just let go of the thing we want most so that God can be glorified. Do you know that immediately following that message a young woman from Canada stood up and shared about her life-long desire to have a horse.
It was like God was saying, “Are you getting the picture? Have I turned the volume up loud enough yet?”
Have you ever cried yourself through the night? I just burst into tears, and then I couldn’t stop. That night I got down out of my bed in Peru, and I kneeled on my knees. I remember the feel of the tile under my knees on the floor. I remember that feeling of the cold tile, and I remember the skinny little blanket, and just saying, “Okay, God. It’s off the table. This desire doesn’t fit into Your plan. I’ve waited these 38 years, and now I’m telling You it’s okay, I don’t need that. Will You help me not want it, because I want it so badly, Lord.”
Have you ever cried those kinds of tears? Maybe at an athletic event, maybe when you get a test back, maybe when that guy you had your eyes on had his eyes on someone else, maybe when your parents put the reins on your heart to protect you. Did you cry those kind of tears?
Do you know that from that night on I never dreamed about a horse again? It was bizarre how the Lord delivered me from that desire. It was just done; it was over, finished.
I want to tell you that I had this kind of cool little ministry going on, but then it just exploded in the last four years, just exploded. When I said, “God, You can have all of me, all of me, all my desires.” In the last four years, we’ve ministered to Zambia, Africa, one of the most AIDS-ravaged nation in the globe. We’ve reached 75, 000 students with the gospel and with the message of abstinence.
Our Pure Freedom curriculum for teenagers has really taken off, and 20,000 churches have used the curriculum that we produced with Moody Publishers in their churches.
I’m in negotiations right now with a ministry in England who wants our team to come train them to do the Pure Freedom events all over the nation of England, which is so godless and so in need of morality.
The Lord has just exploded things as I’ve given Him my desire. One of the neatest things we do now is we minister to tween girls. How many of you have seen how tween girls are under attack by the culture and how the enemy is trying to make your 7-year-old sisters dress like they’re 17 . . . and not cute, modest 17 year olds, mind you?
The Lord has just burgeoned that. Tomorrow night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we have an event. I have a teen that goes and does them. I’m kind of the architecture of the event. There will be 3,000 little tween girls and their moms in Tulsa, Oklahoma, tomorrow night will be listening to God’s truth about their beauty that Erin is going to share with you in just a little bit today.
Something came to life when I crucified my desire. You see, in God’s economy, death is life. Sometimes He wants you to experience that in a very real way. Sometimes He doesn’t want you to just read about it in the pages of God’s Word, but He wants you to experience it.
You know that moment in Peru when I gave that to God, it was my Mount Moriah. It was my moment like Abraham’s moment of saying, “God, my desires will all be focused on You, and there will be nothing in the way.”
How many of you have something in your heart that’s either sitting on the throne of your heart or it’s awfully close to the throne of your heart, and it has no business being there? How many of you have something like that? That’s a lot of hands.
This is what God’s Word says to you: 1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we have asked of Him.”
Now that’s a kind of interesting prayer because God says, “If you ask Me for something, I’m going to give it to you.” But He says that we’re supposed to ask . . . how? . . . according to His will. How can you ask according to His will if your desires are consumed by things other than Him? How can you know what His will is if you have not dwelled on, focused on, become vulnerable and pliable to the heart of God?
You cannot know His will if you are so focused on issues of beauty that your bedroom is plastered with pictures from Vogue Magazine. You can’t. You’re chewing on and dwelling on something that is not of God. Now, I believe He wants you to be beautiful. You are an expression of His beauty and His creation, but our desires can be so easily out of whack, and they can become so vulnerable to the counterfeits.
A couple of weeks ago I was praying. We have a huge financial need in our ministry right now. This month is a bad month for us. I was praying with my staff . . . there’s two of us . . . well, really, there’s two and a half of us . . . my husband half works for us . . . no, there’s three and a half . . . there’s me, Eileen and Melanie, and we were praying. It was just about on my heart to pray for this financial need, “God, meet this need. God, fill our bank account. God, give us the money to pay our bills,” when the Lord gave me a really clear vision of taking . . . I had a shipment of books coming in. It’s about $26,000 worth of books that if they sell would be a great thing. Right? Having $26,000 in the bank account would be great.
Do you know what I knew at that moment as I was praying, as I was with the Lord? He wanted me to give them away. I don’t know how to explain this without sounding like a Christian nut, so you can just think of me as a Christian nut, but I’m sitting there thinking, “Lord, where do You want me to give them away, to whom do You want me to give this stuff away?”
I saw in my mind’s eye, it was a picture of just this brick building, and it was all broken down. You know how those old brick buildings have those dark windows that have glass in them, but it doesn’t look like they have glass. . .I don’t know what it is about them. Do you know what I’m talking about, what kind of brick building? I felt my heart just interpreted it to be the projects in New York City. I don’t live far from New York.
I thought to myself, “Lord, do You want me to go to New York City and give away these books?” I began to dwell on that to see if it was His will. I dwelled on it all day, and I became passionate.
How many of you have ever had an experience where you start to get a sense of God wanting to do something, and you just become giddy? You start to become joyful and laughing about it, and you know it’s absolutely insane or impossible, but you are going to do it. Maybe it’s to be a summer missionary for Child Evangelism Fellowship or a mission trip where He’s called you to, and there’s no way you’re going to have the money to do it, or you’re changing your school type, and you’re going to do something adventurous and out on a limb to be a home schooler or a Christian school student, or whatever, but there’s just this certainty that God’s calling you to do something, and it’s scary, but you’re so excited.
Well, it was that kind of day for me, and all through the day I began studying, and I began learning that most of the little girls, 8 to 12 years old, in those projects in New York have just a mom, not a dad, and that mom is working silly to make $24,000 a year, which is hardly anything. That’s not enough to feed her family on, and she never has $12 to go to a Secret Keeper Girl Event with her daughter, and two tickets would be $24.
She doesn’t have $20 to buy a kit to teach her daughter godliness and purity, and she doesn’t have the relationships around her to do that, but the research says that if we give her the tools, and if we give a bunch of moms in that area the tools, that those little girls grow up to be pure, and those little girls grow up to be certain of their beauty when they are the most at-risk little girls in the entire nation.
So I was up until 1:30 in the morning praising the Lord that I was going to have the opportunity to give away $24,000 worth of books when I don’t have the money to pay my bills this month.
Have you ever had that kind of enthusiasm and insanity? (Laughter) The crazy part is I went to my husband the next day, and I said, “Honey, I think God wants me to do something.”
He said, “How’s that going to work?”
I said, “I don’t know.”
He said, “I’m in,” (Laughter) because he sensed God’s Spirit, too.
So I’m running this campaign to raise the money to give the books away. I’m going myself; I’m not sending my team. My team is coming with me, but I’m going. Girls, we’re going to take this $26,000 worth of books, and we’re going to . . . you know what? The books are just a gimmick for us to get the opportunity to lay hands on these girls and to introduce them to their Savior, if they don’t know Him, and if they do know Him, to tell them that He walks with them and to release them from all the things that Satan has planned in their future and to call out God’s future for their life.
Girls, let me tell you something, I am going to do this thing through the power of the Lord Jesus because I have learned that in crucifying my desires that I can ask anything and have confidence that He will answer. Do you have that kind of confidence that if God put something on your heart today, you could know, and you could walk into dark places.
Abraham didn’t know where he was going when he headed to the Promised Land. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know where I’m going with these books, girls, but I am so going. Can you even have this much of an inkling of how excited I am about this? (Laughter) I am so full of joy I can’t stand myself. I am so full of joy that sometimes my husband is like, “Just get out of bed. If you’re going to have to start singing to the Lord, just do it downstairs in the basement, please.” (laughter)
I want you to know that it’s because I have learned to crucify my desires, and I’ve cried a lot of tears.
John Piper says this: “God is most glorified in me when I’m most satisfied in Him.” Memorize that. “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.” This is not a new battle for me, girls. It’s a battle that I’ve had to wage so many times because I lose it.
When I was in college, and I was dating a guy who I thought might be my husband, his name was Bob Gresh . . . you can kind of tell how that worked out, right? (laughter) . . . God called me to walk away from him because he was sitting on the throne of my heart. For ten long months we didn’t know if we would ever be back together again. I wrote on the doorframe of my dorm room, “Jesus is enough. God is sovereign.” I was crucifying that desire.
Have you crucified your desires?
All right, there’s some good news. I don’t want you to think that this good news is necessarily your news. There are things in my life where I’ve crucified a desire, and God has not answered me in the way that I wanted, but this summer we were looking for new property for our Christian high school. A donor has given us land, and we’re going to buy this new property.
As we were looking for this new property, I saw what looks to be the same farm that I looked at right before Peru, only it had been painted. It wasn’t blue wood anymore, it was like a tan wood. I thought, “Oh, that’s funny. That farm is for sale again. That’s so cool.” I didn’t think a thing about it; I didn’t have a desire for it . . . nothing, but I did print it out to show my husband to say, “Oh, isn’t this cool. The house is for sale.” And I wrote “Dream House” on it.
So we’re looking through all these papers of all these properties that we can buy for Grace Prep High School, and he goes, “What’s this?”
I go, “Oh, that’s that house that before Peru, remember, we looked at?”
He said, “Let’s go look at it.”
I’m like, “Honey, you know, like that’s ridiculous. We’re not even doing that anymore. That’s not in the plan anymore.”
He’s like, “It’s just looking.”
So we drive out. It wasn’t the same property; it was a different property. It looked similar. It was 10 acres, had a little tiny 4-horse stall barn, in perfect, immaculate condition. They used it to breed Morgan horses. There was a big, beautiful horse riding ring, 10 acres ready to be fenced in for horses, and a cute little house about the size of mine.
When we got to the property, the owners were there, which was a little embarrassing to us because we’re not even interested in buying the property, right? The guy goes, “Oh, come. I love to show my property.” So he shows us around. It’s adorable. We’re like, “It’s a bigger dream.” But you know what? I didn’t feel a thing, not a thing. My desire was so crucified and so dead, I didn’t even feel a thing.
We’re about to leave, and this older gentleman, probably 70-75, looks at my husband and says, “Make me any offer.” I don’t know if you know that, but in guy talk, that’s like, “You can have me; take me.” You know that movie . . . You Had Me at Hello? If you don’t know it, you’re too young. I just showed you my age. You Had Me at Hello—Jerry McGuire . . . never mind. (laughter)
Anyway, so my husband figures out, “What if we could trade mortgages? What if we could take the payment for our 8/10 th of an acre and a house and make the same payment for 10 acres, a horse barn, a house, a barn full of John Deere tractors, which, you know, every guy . . . it’s like me/horse; Bob/tractor.
So we make this snowball offer. My realtor is totally ashamed to take it to them. She’s like, “I can’t.” Bob says, “He said, ‘make him an offer.’”
So we make the offer, and the guy goes, “That’s really low.”
We go, “Yeah, we know.” But that’s all right. We’re not offended because there was nothing in our hearts. We didn’t need it.
Within 24 hours, the guy calls and says, “You can have it. You can have the farm.”
Girls . . . one week ago, I am the owner of a 10-acre, immaculate, beautiful horse farm that you all can come ride at because I’m insane enough to say, “Hey, just come on out!” (Cheers and applause)
Now, here’s something. I don’t have a horse yet. (Laughter) The desire has returned, and it is powerful, and every day I’m crucifying it to do the work of the Lord because I am not allowed to be consumed by it. Do you know that as I’ve received this gift, my prayer has now been, “Thank You, God, but, God, please don’t let this gift get in the way of my desire for You. Please don’t let these horses distract me from Your calling in New York City and Zambia, across this nation and in England. Do not take my desire for You away, Lord.”
It’s probably going to be a long time until I have the horse because I can’t afford the fence right now.
Are you in a season of waiting? Maybe you’re in a season of really needing to crucify something and take it complete off the table. Maybe you’re in a season of waiting.
Would you bow your heads with me?
Lord, God, I thank You so much that You give us desire and that desire is created by You. I thank You that we can trust You with that desire.
Lord, if there’s anyone in here today who needs to crucify desire, I pray that You would give her courage to do that.
Lord, if there’s anyone in here that’s in a season that I’m in, where they have been obedient to crucify a desire, and they are now in a season where, Lord, You’re giving them freedom to move forward in a desire, but the waiting is there, and it’s painful, and it’s hard, give them courage to continue to press into their desire for You and not to be consumed with the gift that You’re in the process of giving them, Lord.
Interpret Your Word to each heart in this room, in Your holy name I pray this, amen.
As we were praying it made me think, we are talking about desires. Right?
I have wrestled with this desire of having a horse. I’m in the process now where God has blessed it, and I’m waiting.
Maybe you’re in the process where your parents are willing to grant you what you’ve desired, and they’ve been putting the reins on you for a while, but now you’re in that process of waiting.
Maybe you’re in that time where I was earlier in my story when you need to just crucify that desire, to take it off the table, and to let God have that desire.
Amy Carmichael, a missionary in India, said, “It is safe to trust Him with the desires that He creates.” In other words, it’s a safe thing to trust God to fulfill the desire which He creates.
That is what I want to challenge you to do in this session . . . to trust God with the desire that He has created in you or for you because probably at the root of your desire is something good that God can do, but it might just be time to let it die, or to let it rest.
Now, in a little bit if celebration, I have to say that I have two parts of my dream that have come true. One: I’ve ridden English and I’ve ridden Western, and I have decided that I’m a cowgirl. Any cowgirls out there? (cheers and applause) So, in celebration of the Lord blessing me with this vision and this dream, I went out to buy cowgirl boots.
Now, here’s the thing: Did you know cowgirl boots are really expensive? I can only afford half a boot. You can see mine are short. They don’t have that cool little tip at the front because when I looked at the prices, the tall ones with the tip at the front, I had a heart attack, and I was like, “Well, maybe I’ll buy half a boot.” They’re called “gypsies.”
I also found something left behind on the farm: Do you know what this is? It’s a bit. I have my first bit. I’m so happy. I love this bit. They probably left it because it’s horrible or something, but I love it.
Now, here’s the thing about bits: We can take a 2,000 pound horse, and you and I can control or direct it if we put bit in their mouth. Right? This is kind of like a horse dwelling on something, and when they put this in their mouth, and they chew on it, they become pliable or vulnerable to whomever is controlling the bit.
Some of you have bits in your mouth called boy craziness, and some of you have bits in your mouth called worldly beauty. Some of you have bits in your mouth that are outright sins, secret struggles that you’ve never told anybody about. You’re struggling horribly with something that nobody knows about, and you’re pliable and you’re vulnerable to that thing. Why? Because you’re chewing on it. You’re dwelling on it night and day, and it has become that which directs your life.
What do you do if you’ve identified a desire that’s unholy or it’s not the right time for you to have it? What do you do with that? Well, I think there’s a woman in the Bible who gives us a really good example of what to do with it.
If you have your Bibles, turn to Luke 7. I want to just read this story to you, share two quick things about it, and then ask you to respond to the Lord with it.
Luke 7:36 (NIV): “When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
There’s a woman here in this story who was consumed by desire, and what we know of her is that not only did that desire overtake her, because she became vulnerable to it, pliable, soft, delicate towards sexual sin. . .the word in verse 37—sinful—is the Greek word hamartalos which means frequent, heinous, habitual sin. She was known for her sin.
We don’t know if she was a prostitute; we don’t know if she was the woman who broke up many marriages in the community. We just know that she was known for her sin. She was an outcast because of her sin. And yet, when she hears that her desires have been unholy and have been controlling her, she comes to the One who can free her. She comes to Jesus Christ and she comes with something.
What is it that she comes with? What does she bring with her?—an alabaster jar. Now what do we know about alabaster jars?
This has been one of my favorite Bible stories for years, but I never knew much about an alabaster jar until my man, a few years ago, bought me one. When I say he bought me one. . .he is the best gift giver in the entire universe. He is such a creative, generous gift giver. And he knows this is one of my favorite Bible stories, so, a few years ago for Christmas, he gave me this whole box of stuff.
The first item in the box was Dead Sea scrubbing salt. I thought, “Ooo, it’s a manicure kit or spa kit.”
Then the next box contained a scroll of that Bible passage from Luke 7 about the sinful woman. So I’m thinking, “Dead Sea salt, a scroll about my favorite Bible passage . . .” and I knew, because of what a great gift giver my husband is, that he had bought me an alabaster jar.
I was so excited; I couldn’t wait to open it. So I open up this exact box right here, and I unwrapped, very tenderly, so excited, and I pulled this out, and it’s like, “Cool! Is that the lid?” (laughter)
My husband’s face dropped, and he’s, like, “No. That’s the very expensive antiquity that I purchased for you after searching high and lo throughout the entire globe. That’s it.”
This is an alabaster jar from somewhere in Egypt. It’s dated about 130 B.C. so it’s probably a lot like the alabaster jar that this woman brought. You can see from looking at it that it’s only about 2 inches tall. It’s made of alabaster, which is just a hard stone, kind of like marble. It has a very tiny, itty-bitty hole on the top, and inside this hole would be something that was very, very, very expensive in the day. It might have been just oil.
There were different levels of alabaster jars. Some of the women of that day had a clay alabaster jar, and they maybe had olive oil in them because that’s what their family could afford. This woman probably had something like myrrh or scented oil in it that was very costly.
Now, on the top of the jar, the flat surface where there’s just a kind of a mouth, that would have a big dollop of wax on it, and the father would have used something to seal it. Now, maybe it was just a rock, if they were a poor family, and it was just a clay jar, but if it was a wealthier family, and this probably was a wealthier family because she had alabaster, it would have had a family seal that had closed that.
Now once you sealed this off, this was symbolic of the woman’s future. It was symbolic of her ability to be a wife. It was a symbol that said, “I’m available.” The seal was symbolic of her life being sealed off and still waiting for that one man. If the seal was broken, this piece of her dowry was useless. This piece of the promise of being a wife and mother was gone. A woman was seen to have had little value without this.
So when this woman, consumed by her desires and shame of living a heinous, habitual sinful life, comes to the Savior, not only is she bringing the sin and saying, “I’m finished with pursuing my own desires,” but she’s bringing her future. When she ripped the seal off of the top of that jar, she was saying, “Jesus is enough. God is sovereign.” She was saying, “Every desire that I have is You.” And she poured out her future on the feet of Jesus Christ.
I think that’s what God wants us to do with our desires. I think He wants us to take the seal off of our dreams. I think He wants us to rip the potential for that desire to be that which directs our lives. You see, no longer was she going to be the sinful woman, but no longer was she going to be the available woman.
What is in your alabaster jar? What’s it filled with? I want you to look deep past the surface issues of your life to the desire, the root issues of your life. If your bedroom is plastered with pictures of some guy or just the abs of some guy that you don’t even know because he’s a model in a hot ad, I wonder if your alabaster jar could be filled with not only the sin of idolization and lust. . .ouch. That hurt, didn’t it?. . .but also a dream a little bit like this sinful woman’s of being the object of somebody else’s desire.
If your night stand is filled with magazines that teach you how to get the greatest next hot fashion look, I wonder if your alabaster jar is filled with body image and beauty. If your night stand is filled with 15 books on how to ace the SAT tests, I wonder if your alabaster jar is full of intellect. You see, there’s only one thing God wants in your alabaster jar, and that’s Jesus Christ.
I want you to write a letter. As you write this letter, you’re going to hear a song by Tenth Avenue North. It’s called “Empty My Hands.” This song is from one of your sisters who blogs at LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. Last week I shared the story of my desire and how God’s bringing it to be. One of them said, “This song comes to mind,” and it really touched my heart.
As you write a letter to God about your desire and how you specifically need to pour that out on the feet of Jesus today . . . and, girls, this is a symbol of something much bigger that she did in her life. Some of you need to go home and take pictures off your bedroom walls; and some of you need to go home and quit some things because your life is too consumed with busyness to be consumed with God. Some of you need to go home and break up with guys.
What is the specific action . . . what would make you cry yourself to sleep tonight? It’s not for the sake of crying that she washed Jesus’ feet.