Push and Pull: An Inventory of My Worldly Desires and Fears

How, and how often, do you take inventory of your thoughts? Of your motivations?

. . . of your fears?  

After all, these things are abstract and often take deep thought and earnest reflection to understand. Unlike our cars or other possessions that beep at us when they need maintenance, our hearts and minds do not always tell us when something is out of alignment or when something needs attention. In some ways this is unfortunate, because being connected to the true condition of our hearts and minds is essential.

These inventories are critical in highlighting areas where I am stuck. Where my fists are clenched. Where I am stubborn. And where I am missing out on the blessings that come with surrender.

When I pray Psalm 139, “Search me oh God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting,” that is my desire. To be led in the way everlasting.

I long to experience the peace and freedom the Father designed me for, that Jesus made possible, and that the Spirit makes accessible. I long to experience His love in greater depths.

To taste the living water that my soul thirsts for.

But I struggle to stay in those green pastures. Just this morning I listened to the awesome song, Shall Not Want, by Maverick City Music, and I read Psalm 23:1-3, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

I want that, but have been feeling anxious about some things and have been struggling to be present. My fears are getting in the way of love, of relationships. I am struggling to surrender, to be led beside quiet waters so my soul can be refreshed. I have had a hard time surrendering, a hard time abiding.

So I pray and I listen. Search me oh God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. And how am I doing in my response to the natural difficulties that come into my life? When stress, anxiety, or trauma enters my life—what am I leaning on? How do I find this peaceful place of surrender when the world turns upside down?

When I take inventory of my emotions, I find that most things fall into two categories.

I believe most of what limits my experience of God can be simplified into my worldly desires and fears – what is pulling me and what is pushing me.

Let's prayerfully take inventory of our minds – to assess the condition of our hearts. Let's take the time to practice together what this self-reflection looks like. Let's take the time to play the movie forward, and use our imagination to explore the fulfillment of those things that are driving us, and see where they will lead us. Let’s evaluate the validity and the soundness of what is pulling and pushing our decisions, calendars, emotions, finances, minds, and hearts.

First, let me assess the worldly desires that may be pulling:

What about the fears that may be pushing me:

These inventories, evaluated with care, help, and intentionality, are critical in showing me areas where I am stuck. Where I am not trusting the Spirit, and missing out of the fruit of the Spirit of joy, peace, patience. Where I am limited in experiencing what I am longing for. The truth is, when I take control, I miss out on the better life that comes when God takes control.

In James 4:14-16 we are reminded that worry is something we are lovingly commanded to turn from:

“14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

This posture of surrender is the narrow and hard path. But it is the only way to find real love, peace, and freedom. In surrender, we take the posture of humility. It’s saying, “I can’t.” In humility, I trust, or let, God and others love me.

I can’t experience this love without trust. Trust unlocks love.

The pursuit of worldly desires and fears will continuously block us from experiencing God’s love. The evil one uses these desires and fears to confuse us, slow us down, and distract us from what we were built for and what our Father longs for us to experience.  

Here is an inspiring charge from Andrew Murray in his devotional “Abide in Christ:”

“Yield yourself today to the blessed Savior; surrender to Him today the thing He is asking of you. Give up yourself in order to abide in Him. He will bring you to Himself. He will keep you trusting and abiding in Him. You can trust Him.”

I will leave you with some final questions as you take inventory of your own hearts and minds, but I want to offer some wisdom, too. Often, shame is nearby when we choose to reflect on our lives. So before we reflect, I pray that the Holy Spirit would remind us that we are holy and dearly loved saints, and that reflection simply shows us places we are being invited to experience more of God’s love. Help us to see ourselves clearly, knowing we are secure and beloved.

Now, a few questions for us to sit with:

  1. What worldly desires are pulling me?
  2. What fears are pushing me?
  3. Where is God inviting me to surrender, to unclench my hands so he can pour out his peace?


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