Saturday, November 24, 2012

Desires of My Heart

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Twenty years ago I was in my first year of medical school. It would turn out to be my only year, but I didn’t know that at the time. After I had surrendered to God my desire to be a doctor, with a willingness to go anywhere and do anything for Him, God had clearly opened this door for me to attend medical school. So I thought that my becoming a doctor must be part of His plan.

God had transformed my jealous heart and planted within me a desire to give my whole life to Him during my freshman year in college. I roomed with my sister the next year when she joined me at the University of NC. Then we both decided to transfer to the University of MO the following year because of my parents’ move to the Midwest.

In Missouri, through a campus fellowship group, I met Charly and my first impression was this guy seems kind of obnoxious because he was always full of energy and bouncing off the walls at our weekly meetings. But God showed me another side of him during a three hour conversation in my dorm lobby one evening, and I was deeply impressed by his heart for God and for people. We enjoyed spending time together that spring, and after Charly’s summer exploration trip to China, God confirmed that He had given us like hearts and seemed to be leading us in the same direction.

We treasured the one year that we had together in a dating relationship before Charly headed East, immediately after graduating from college in 1992. We didn't really know what the future held, but our thinking then was that after he completed two years of language study, he would return to the US for us to get married. Then he would wait for me to finish medical school, residency, paying off my debt...and we would go back to China together.

But God was going to change those plans by asking us to lay down our greatest desires. Each other. Serving Him in China. Being a doctor.

Back in the days before Internet (hard to imagine now), most of our communication across the ocean was through handwritten letters with occasional expensive phone calls. The most memorable one was at the end of my first semester when Charly called to wish me a Merry Christmas. He then shocked me with a question I was totally unprepared for. “Have you ever considered not finishing medical school?” A long silence followed as I processed his words and their meaning. “No,” I finally replied. Then another long silence before Charly asked me to think and pray about it. He shared that God had been confirming in his heart that China was where He wanted him to be. Our original idea about his coming back to the US to wait 8-10 years for me didn’t seem to be His plan.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

I identified the two greatest desires of my heart as marrying Charly and being a doctor. Now I would have to choose. I couldn’t have both.

Looking back, twenty years later, I remember how trying to discern God’s will at that time was one of the most stretching experiences of my life. But it was a time that ultimately brought me closer to His heart. And gave me confidence in hearing and following His voice. He enabled me to see that surrender and sacrifice, while difficult at the time, can actually become a joy.

During the heart-wrenching months that followed the Christmas phone call, I sought the Lord in prayer, in His Word, and through godly counsel. I knew that God had created me with a compassion for people. When they had physical needs I wanted to help them get better. But God had also given me an even deeper concern for their spiritual needs. While I had envisioned being involved in ministering to people’s physical and spiritual needs through the open doors of medicine, I came to see that God was giving me a desire instead to partner with Charly in a discipleship ministry.

Also, I questioned that if I invested 8-10 more years in medical training and paying off my debt, where would having a family fit in? I realized that when I had children I wanted to be able to be home with them. They would be more of a priority to me than practicing medicine. So why invest all the time, energy, and money required to become a doctor, if I really desired to be at home to raise and disciple my children? As I sought God’s will for my life, He took my desire to become a doctor and gave me even greater desires related to marriage, ministry and motherhood.

So while God had led me into medical school, He also seemed to be leading me out. His ways are higher than our ways, and oftentimes mysterious. Not everyone understood or supported my decision. But it was clear to me that God wanted to me to make this tough decision to please Him and not people.

I am still thankful for all that He taught me during that year of medical school, including a deeper dependence on Him and a greater understanding of the complexity and awesomeness of the human body through dissecting cadavers in Anatomy class. We really are fearfully and wonderfully made! Miraculously, after Charly and I were married in 1994, God provided, through our 4th of July fireworks sales, wedding gifts and extra gifts from friends and family, so that we were able to completely pay off my $9,000 medical school debt. When we left on the plane for China in October of 1995, with 4 month old CJ, we were debt-free.

I have never regretted my decision to give up medical school. And I am especially thankful this year--CJ’s last year of high school--that God has given me the gift of 17 plus years of being home with my children. Living in China and home schooling have been great blessings to our family. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

He delights to fulfill the desires of our hearts as we delight in Him.


  1. So wonderful to look back and see how God leads!

    1. Thanks Julie. Appreciate your encouragement!



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