A change of heart

The Bible doesn’t usually dole out “if, then” statements but it does have a lot to say about living life. If you do BLANK, then BLANK will happen. When you BLANK, God will BLANK. Don’t BLANK or God will BLANK. Statements about how to live life. Warnings about what not to do and how not to do it.

One has a promise associated with it. Honor your mother and father, and your days will be long.

One has God daring us to test Him. Trust Him with your finances and He will give you more back than you have room to store.

But what about this one? Psalm 37:4.

4 Take delight in the Lord,
      and he will give you your heart’s desires.

To take delight in something is to find joy in it. Dictionary.com says that delight means “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment.” How many times have you taken a “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment” in God this week? How many times have I?

I delight in Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes (ironic because according to the word history of delight, it shares a root with the same word for delicious). I delight in a really good story. I delight in sunrises and sun sets on my farm.  But delighting in God? That seems more difficult to do because in a strict sense, He isn’t something our senses can experience. We can’t see Him. We can’t touch Him. Or smell Him. Or taste Him. Or feel Him.

I’ve heard it said before, though, that we can’t see the wind either. But we can see the effects of the wind. It’s the same with God. We can’t see Him but we can seen what He’s been up to. And I’m telling you, if there were ever someone to take delight in, it’s God. There’s no one more worthy of it. Because there’s no one like Him.

And when we finally convince ourselves that God is worth delighting in, something pretty spectacular happens. When He is all that matters, our lives take a sudden turn. And suddenly, we have everything we ever wanted.

Now, does God wait for us to turn to Him before He starts giving us everything we want? No. Not really. Because honestly, even if you turn to Him, there may be some things He holds back. They may not be good for you to begin with.

What happens instead is that when you turn to God and delight yourself in Him and in the things that He is doing, your heart changes. And when your heart changes to love the things He loves, your desires change too.

It’s funny. Because when I got my perspective right and started delighting in God and living the way God wanted me to, I realized that I already had everything my heart desired. And then I was overwhelmed when God gave me more, beyond the things that I had desired, over and above.

And that’s because He’s good. He’s so good to us, especially when we aren’t good to Him.

So whenever I feel myself unsatisfied with my life or my accomplishments or the things I have, I just remind myself that I need to take joy in God and what God is doing in my life and in the lives of others. And when I do that, suddenly the things that I wanted don’t seem to matter so much. They seem temporal and fleeting because I can see how silly they are in comparison to what God is doing in the world. And when I start wanting the same things that God wants, He answers . . . and most of the time, He gives me the other things I wanted too.

Delightful

What makes you happy? What delights you? I’m a pretty happy person most of the time, so I guess I could say that a lot of things make me happy. But what about delight? The idea of being delighted about something or taking delight in something (or someone) is a far stronger idea than just being happy about it.

Something that delights me? A good book. I know that’s nerdy but it’s true. I love a story with a twist I didn’t see coming. A good example is the book I just finished reading, Adam by Ted Dekker. Yeah. Amazing. And, of course, delightful. The story itself was great, but when this twist came along, I just couldn’t stop grinning.

Something else that delights me? Watching the teens I worked with in youth group growing up and serving God, not because their parents bring them to church all the time but because they want to. I can list the teens who are actively serving God right now, and every time I see them, I just feel all bubbly inside.

Being delighted about something or someone is an incredible sensation. It’s hard to describe in words. But first, you have to have a great deal of love for what you’re delighted about before you can even think about taking delight in it. I love stories. I love plot twists. And I love high school students. But I don’t love them because I take delight in them; I take delight in them because I love them.

So when I read the verse of the day this morning, this is what it made me think of.

Zephaniah 3:17

17 For the Lord your God is living among you.
      He is a mighty savior.
   He will take delight in you with gladness.
      With his love, he will calm all your fears.[a]
      He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

God takes delight in us.

I don’t think we really understand how incredible that is. I mean, if I were God I would take delight in the galaxies that I made or all the different fish in the sea or all the different plants and processes I created and put in place. I wouldn’t take delight in humans. Why would He take delight in us? Why would He love us first, above everything else that He made? We’re the ones who have wrecked the world He gave us. We’re the ones who dishonor Him and turn our backs on Him. We’re the ones who blame Him unjustly for the probelms we’ve brought on ourselves. If I were God, I wouldn’t want anything to do with me.

So I’m very glad I’m not God. Aren’t you? =)

I just can’t wrap my head around how anyone could take delight in me. I have failed so many times. I’ve failed other people, I’ve failed myself, I’ve failed God even. But He keeps giving me more chances to get back on track — not to prove myself (because God doesn’t want me to prove anything to Him) but to live for Him, more chances to experience His blessing, more chances to trust Him with everything that’s important to me, more opportunities to stretch my faith longer and deeper.

I am speechless that anyone could love me that much. Knowing that God really does take delight in me — not in my potential, not in my actions, but in me as a person — is life-changing, mind-altering, earth-shaking. And it helps me remember that whatever He does, He does for a reason.

Maybe things aren’t going the way I want them to. Maybe my life isn’t what I wanted it to be. Maybe I want things to happen that haven’t happened yet. But behind all the things I want and dream and expect, God is in control. He knows what He’s doing, and He loves me. There are days I don’t feel His love, but those are the days I have to believe in what I know to be true because my emotions and feelings are just as broken as the rest of the world.

Behind every dark place in my life, the truth remains that God loves me. And because He loves me, He takes delight in me. And it’s not for anything that I’ve said or done. It’s not for any dubious beauty that I possess. It’s not for the promises I’ve made Him or anything I’ve given Him or anything I might do or become for Him in the future. It’s because He has chosen to love me. So, in gratitude, I choose to love Him back.