“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
This verse keeps coming to my mind lately, partly because I have discovered it to be true, and partly because I think it’s often misunderstood. Taking delight in the Lord sounds like something that should be obvious for all Christians. But how often do we really delight in God? We might praise him, worship him, even surrender to him, but delight?
My daughter is a delight to me. She’s a strong, talented, beautiful little girl who loves Jesus and demonstrates her love to others through cards, hugs, and words of encouragement. She brings me joy just because of who she is, and my relationship with her blesses me more than anything she could ever do for me (although I am counting on her to feed me and change my diapers when I’m old – the boy, not so much). As much as I delight in my daughter, God delights in me even more! Zephaniah 3:17 tells me, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Does it seem strange that the God of the universe would delight in us and sing for joy because of us? Recently, we enjoyed a day of free fun in a nearby city. My parents had borrowed our van and filled up the gas tank, so our gas was free. The city of Boise was offering free outdoor activities and goodies at one of the parks, so we enjoyed an afternoon of free fun. After getting a free car wash, we headed to dinner at a restaurant with a gluten free menu. The kitchen messed up on our order so many times, and even brought out our potatoes with gravy containing flour at one point, that the manager gave us our dinner and appetizer for free! (We still tipped our waitress.) All the way home I was silently laughing as the Holy Spirit so clearly said to me, “This one’s on me. I am able to take care of all your needs. Today, I want to bless you.”
Right now, so many things in our house are falling apart: the garage door, our camera, the car, even our old dog. We haven’t had a paycheck in 10 months. But even in the midst of all our uncertainty, how can I not delight in a God who delights to be in my presence and longs to give good gifts to me? Our circumstances cannot rob us of our joy when we are continually in the presence of the One who spared nothing to demonstrate his love for us (Romans 5:8). He is active and present in all we do, if we’ll simply look up to see him.
The second part of the verse contains the promise that with our delight in God comes the fulfillment of our desires. The part that I think is misunderstood is that God doesn’t just give us whatever our fleshly hearts desire. My fleshly heart desires financial security, which is obviously not a high priority to God right now. The great mystery of this verse is that as we delight in God, his desires become our desires. His will becomes our will. When we are in agreement with what God desires, he will fulfill those desires!
There are two similar verses in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” But Luke 11:13 gives a slightly different version: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Yes, God desires to give his children good gifts – sometimes, even a free dinner. But the best and most important gift he desires to give us is his Holy Spirit! It is the Holy Spirit within us that allows us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds (James 1:2). My spirit-filled desire is to know and serve Christ, and I praise God because he gives me the desires of my heart! As he fulfills his desires through me, it increases my joy and delight in him.
I have no idea what (in the world!!) God has planned for our future. It is still a total mystery to me. But I know his presence today, and that is enough.
When was the last time you paused to meditate on just how much God loves and delights in you?
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