Monday, January 30, 2017
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4(NLT)
So often I’ve seen this verse’s context so badly distorted I want to find a rooftop and scream: that’s NOT what it says!
A Christian, not very mature, but a believer nonetheless, to the pastor with a complaint. He says: Pastor, I don’t get it; I’m really happy, I think even delighted in the fact that the Lord wants to give me my heart’s desires. How come there’s no Cadillac SUV with all the upgrades I want in my driveway. How come all my problems didn’t go away and why did Donald Trump become president, and not me?
Now, you know that conversation is a little more exaggerated than the one I usually get. But it acurately displays how wrongly we can get it about our relationship with God. And more often than not, the problem is that we dwell on the last half of the verse, because that is where the goodies are kept…our heart’s desires! Let’s face it, when a child runs into the living room on Christmas morning, the first thing he does not include admiring the wrappings –she will not check the window to see if it snowed. No…a child will run right to the presents under the tree and see how many presents are for me!
And therein we find why the Cadillac does not show up in the Christian’s driveway; we have tried to make God a vending machine…and God rather takes exception to that!
So, what does the verse mean? How do we interpret it correctly? The key is in the word delight, which is directly tied to desires. Both are “heart” words; both are found at the very center of our being. To “delight” in the Lord is to match our heart’s fondest hopes and dreams (our desires) to what God’s heart loves.
One author said: we should seek our happiness in God—in his being, his perfections, his friendship, his love.[ii] In short, it is the relationship with God that should be most important. When that is so, every bit of true wealth or success will have nothing to do with a Cadillac, but rather experiencing joy, happiness and peace in the Holy Spirit.
Children are an incredible source of wisdom if you pay attention. I read an article about a survey[iii] given to about ten-thousand children between 7 and 13 years old. The survey asked the kids to put a list of about 20 items in order from what they wanted most, to what was least important. There were tangible things like new bicycles and video games. But there were also intangibles like four hours in the park flying kites with Dad, and a family walk. Overwhelmingly the children rated everything relational (like a family walk, or a friend’s visit) way above the toys. In fact, of the entire list of 20, nothing in the top five choices cost a penny! Sorta makes you wonder why you maxed-out your MasterCard™ to make Christmas “happy”!
Matching your desires to God’s desires for you (which are far better than anything you could dream up anyway) is a sure way to get every desire, simply because you’re willing what He is willing for you.
How can that combination fail?
If you’ve ever wondered about why some of the things you’ve asked for in prayer seem to have been ignored by Heaven, the first place to go looking for answers is what desires you find stored-up in your heart. Then ask: Is this where my delight lives?
[ii] Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1999, Parsons Technology, Inc
[iii] The source of the survey is uncertain (not documented), but I believe it was Focus On the Family