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The following is an excerpt from Asha Junot’s book, This Hope: A Journey of Getting to Know God.
In the summer of 2009, I packed up my little blue Corolla and headed to Louisville, KY from Gainesville, FL. Twenty-year-old Asha was headed to spend the summer serving with Love Thy Neighborhood (known then as the HOPE program).

That summer is one of the defining experiences of my life. I got to know God, myself, and others like never before. The work at the shelter was a big part of the summer, but we also spent lots of time with our neighbors, served at church, read books, and studied Scripture together. A daily quiet time was built into our schedule and the importance of sticking to it was made clear. We could use the hour to read or reflect or spend time in nature or in God’s word. Journaling was one suggestion given by the then Program Director (Hey, Jesse!), and that suggestion forever changed my life.

I started journaling that summer in a pink giraffe-print hardcover with a lime-green spine. I’m on journal number 19 now — a mid-century-modern-print hardcover with “First you dream, then you do.” written in gold foil on the front. Each one holds the highs, middles, and lows of life; the extraordinary days and the ordinary ones. And the more excited or upset I am, the messier my handwriting gets.

In the 70 months my husband Jake and I tried, waited, hoped, prayed, and longed for our child, my journals were my lifeline to God. The journal entries from that journey are the bones of my book, This Hope: A Journey of Getting to Know God. At first glance, it’s a book about 70 months of infertility and adoption, but the heart of This Hope is a messy, honest conversation about life and longing and the ways God meets us and invites us to get to know him in the middle of it all.

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
This is a tough verse. And it’s one of the most commonly taken out of context. (I’ve done it many times myself.) Yes, I believe it does mean that the best things come from delighting in the Lord. But I have also come to learn that “he will give” can mean two things. Not just that God will fulfill the desires of our hearts, but that he will first place the desires in our hearts. He will give them to us and then give them to us.

So when I cried out to God, asking if he could see how much I wanted to be a mother, his answer was, “Yes.” And even now, the depth of his yes blows my mind. Yes, he could see how much I wanted to be a mother. He could see it more than I could because that desire was placed there by him. He wanted me to be a mother even more than I wanted to be a mother. But I wanted it, and so I wanted it now. And he wanted it even more, so he wanted it at the perfect time. Which, it turns out, was not now. Now was the time for planting good seeds into good soil. The seeds of his love and kindness and holy patience were being planted.

6/10/2016 …Lord, don’t you see how much I want this? Don’t you see this desire of my heart?
To which you replied: “Yes. I see it even more clearly than you can. I know the depth of that desire more than you ever could. I placed it there. I desire it too. I desire it more than you. I desire it for you. It has not wavered because it is true and it is from me. If anything, it’s grown and deepened as you’ve grown closer to me. ‘Delight yourself in me, and I will give you the desires of your heart.’ I will give them to you. I will place them in your mind and heart. Yes, sweet child, I see how much you want this.”
God knows you more than you could ever know yourself. A truth that becomes less frightening and more freeing, less scary and more sweet the more we get to know him. And the more we get to know him, the more we can be excited about our dreams instead of annoyed by them, because we realize more and more that those dreams and desires are gifts themselves. Reasons to hope and to lean in to the one who loves us the most and to wait with joyful anticipation for a surprise party that we know is happening but we just don’t know when we’ll walk into it.
It’s human nature to start resenting or regretting or retreating from our dreams the longer they go without being realized. We think that because it isn’t happening right now that it never will. We beg and plead because it’s too painful. If it’s never going to happen, please just take this desire away. We scream and cuss at God and tell him he’s cruel and unloving. (And it’s okay because he can handle it.) And the truth is that some of our desires — even the ones placed there by God himself — will never be made manifest on this earth. But in eternity with God, every desire will be fulfilled in him. He is our ultimate desire — the desire to which all other desires point. Desires for love, for family, for legacy, for friendship, for health, for comfort, for stability, for peace, for safety, for reconciliation, for life — they are all most fulfilled in God.
That can be an infuriating truth. It can seem like one of those scripted Sunday school answers that actually makes us feel worse and not better. But getting to know God — getting to know the heart that made ours — means getting to know our desires in a new way. It means seeing them for what they truly are: gifts given to guide us to our hearts’ deepest and most true desire of knowing God, knowing love.

This Hope: A Journey of Getting to Know God is available as a physical book and ebook right now on Amazon, and the audiobook is available for pre-order.

Asha lives with her husband, toddler and hound dog in the Sunshine State. She writes weekly on Substack about taking hold of wonder, connection, and hope through imperfect faith in the perfectly faithful One. You can also connect with Asha on Instagram @ashajuneoh.

*Fun fact: Asha served that summer with LTN’s Co-Founder and Executive Director, Kiana Brown! Check-out the photo to get a glimpse into 2009 😉