Playing by the Rules

My focus was on getting through my struggle as fast as possible and learning whatever God was trying to teach me to get the prize at the end.

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Despite my renewed outlook on hope (described here and here), I had been operating under “optimistic-hope.”  I was hoping God would do things my way, in my time frame, under my conditions. Every month that came and went when He didn’t give me a child, I wondered how much harder I had to try to be a “good Christian.”

“Of course, God will give us [fill in the blank]. Why wouldn’t He? He’s the giver of good gifts after all. I just need to read my Bible more, pray more, go to more Bible studies, and then He will grant my heart’s desires.” Can you relate? But, God is not a big, blue genie, steaming out of a magic lamp whenever our knees hit the floor. He is our Creator and Father, Alpha and Omega, omnipresent and omnipotent. Not a Disney character voiced by Robin Williams.

Have you ever found yourself playing the legalism game too? No, I don’t mean the one where women only wear skirts and men can’t have the incorrect number of tassels on their robes. I mean the game we subconsciously play with ourselves. The game of trying to be the best godly person we can be by attending all the Bible studies, church services, and prayer meetings. Our rear may be in the seat, but our hearts are still captivated by our personal desires (Romans 12:1-2).

My focus was on getting through my struggle as fast as possible and learning whatever God was trying to teach me to get the prize at the end. Getting through the pain is not the key to getting what we want though. When getting what we want is at the forefront of our minds, God’s will has no place to prosper. I was not giving up my desires and placing them in the Father’s hands. “I’ll do what I’m supposed to do to be a better Christian, and you give me the desires of my heart. That’s how this works, right?” WRONG! Bible studies, church, devotions, prayer, and godly mentors are all fantastic and necessary for a godly life, but if our hearts are not prostrate, our efforts are in vain.

We must daily die to ourselves and our worldly desires (Luke 9:23). Our desires may not be bad either, they could be great, fantastic dreams, but they are the desires of our hearts not God’s—or at least not yet. Don’t get me wrong. I’m probably one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet. The problem arises when our dreams become more important than God’s will. We must hold our dreams and desires loosely, allowing God to form our hearts and dreams with His will.

Instead of holding our dreams and desires to our chest in clenched fists, hoping God will make them reality, what if we held them with open, outstretched hands? But, what if He doesn’t give us our desires—what if He doesn’t heal our father, give us the job, or heal the infertility? But, what if He gives us something so much larger than our dreams could ever imagine, what if He knows better than us, and what if He sees the future? Because He does. What if we turn our gaze from our desires for our lives and put our hope in the Lord’s promises, not just for this life but for eternity? Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to hand over our fist-clenched desires, knowing that the King of the Universe holds them in His hands.

Release the grip. Give it to the Lord.

Die to self. Live for Christ.

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, 

let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’.”

Luke 9:23, ESV



This is an updated edition of a post originally published on

Featured Image by Mihai Surdu

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About the Author

Hi! I’m Danielle. I'm a northern girl raising my family in the south. If you catch me, I'll let a Boston style "wicked awesome" slide out. I embrace my awkward, loud self, and don't apologize for being me. As my little girl says, "God made us all unique in our own way." I’m a full-time working, home school mama married to my high school sweet heart. We actually met at a home school group. Yes, we were those kids. We have one beautiful, pink and pony loving daughter. She is the light of our lives. I am a therapist at a psych hospital. I wish I could share all the stories of what happens there with you, but there is this silly thing called HIPPA. Believe me, you name it, I’ve seen it! Coffee is my emotional support drink – it’s been with me through all my storms and every therapy session. But, my Lord is the reason I rise every morning.