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In the last 24 hours, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my future. Several factors have contributed to this introspection, which I shall innumerate here:

  1. It suddenly occurred to me that I’m graduating in a month and a few days and have no job lined up.
  2. It not-so-suddenly occurred to me that I’m living with my parents, and if I don’t get a good job, could very likely continue doing so into my 40’s. (Hi Mom! Thanks for taking care of me! Love you!)
  3. I’m about to embark on a super-secret mission. Ok, not really, but I did get myself involved in a potentially awesome project with about 2,000 of my newest friends. (Or I’ve joined a cult. Check back with me later.)

So anyway, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my future, and I caught myself doing something I’ve done countless times before with very poor results: Negotiating with God.

This was what I caught myself saying tonight: “Ok, fine, I’ll stay in New Jersey, but can I at least travel a lot?” While on the surface this may appear to be on par with your typical parent-child negotiations (“I’ll dust the living room, but I want an extra half-hour of TV”), I think it points to something much more significant, and something a bit more troubling.

You see, in negotiating with God, I am essentially telling Him what I want, as if He doesn’t already know.  I’m acting as if the God who created my heart and soul doesn’t know my deepest desires more intimately than I do. I’m trying to psych God out, trick Him into giving me what I want.

An often-misused scripture says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 ESV). We like to use that verse as justification for being self-centered and for why Christians should always be happy. But when we stop thinking with our human brains, and start thinking with our Spirit-filled brains, we see that this verse is much more than an excuse for a tantrum when something doesn’t go the way we want.  This verse teaches us a couple of important principles.

The first is that God wants to be our joy, our complete satisfaction and the One who gives us pleasure above everything else.  The second is the implication that we don’t have to tell God the desires of our hearts.  He already knows what makes us tick and His sovereign plan, which is always for our good, includes the fulfillment of our deepest desires.

Now I’m not going to get off on a tangent about how our soul’s deepest desire is for God Himself.  That’s, perhaps, another conversation for another time.  My point is simply this: I don’t need to negotiate with God.  He already knows what I want. He already knows what is best for me and what will bring Him the most glory. I need to trust that when I have truly found my delight in Him, my desire and His desire will be the same.

How have you tried to negotiate with God? How did it turn out?

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