Often, as a Christian, you’re asked a lot of funny questions. “How’s your heart?” “When was your last quiet time?” “What’s your enneagram?” There’s nothing wrong with these questions, but they are a regular occurance for Christians. One question I’m often asked is “How is God working in your life?” In fact, you’ll probably have more opportunities than you ever want to answer that question. For me, this question has been one of the most paralyzing questions I have ever had to answer. Now I have to go back through the last week or month and remember a time that I’m confident God was doing something in my life. For the optimists out there this might not be that hard, but for cynics like me, I really want to be sure that it was God working. So how can I recognize when it’s God working in my life or just me?
One great way to recognize God’s work is through conviction. We all go through moments each day when we can identify a pang of guilt or a thought that challenges something sinful we’ve done. Actually, during a given week I can estimate that roughly half the people I ask this question to will be convicted over a lack of bible reading and prayer or not sharing their faith when they had the opportunity. The problem is that if we’re only experiencing a convicting God, then we’re not experiencing the true God. He is not an invigilator waiting for us to cheat on our exam before he says anything.
Another way to recognize God at work in your life is if you experience: a desire for God. One of the most common and least recognized ways that God is constantly working in our lives is in giving us a desire for him. It’s easy to think that a desire for God is something that we conjure ourselves. It’s our heart producing those desires and our heart is part of us, therefore, we must be producing the desires ourselves. Scripture, however, paints a different picture. In Ezekiel 36:26 God promises to give us a new heart. Earlier, in Ezekiel 11, God promises to remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. God is the one changing our hearts and giving us new desires. When we recognize that God is convicting us of not reading our Bible or praying to him, then we can also know that the change of heart necessary to desire to read our Bibles and pray has already been done by him. We would not be convicted of these sins if we didn’t desire to know God.
On the cross, Jesus began the work of changing our hearts. Our old sin-desiring self was nailed to that cross and died there. In Jesus’ resurrection we now have a new nature, one that desires to know and enjoy God. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” This is the work that God has done in our hearts and continues to do every day, changing us into people who desire him more and more.
While God has started and continued to change our desires, it is a process we can partner with God in. God commands us to change our own hearts by becoming tenderhearted (Eph. 4:32). So how do we obey God in doing something he is already doing in us? We respond by leaning into the desires he is giving us. When we feel a desire to read our Bibles, then we open them up and behold the glory of God within the text. When we feel the pull to pray, we respond in prayer. When we want to share our faith, we thank God for that desire and we share our faith when the opportunity comes. No matter where you are in your walk with God you can be confident that a desire for God is a desire from God. Lean into those desires and discover the joy of following where he leads your heart.