Take delight in the lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Here in Portland, OR, snow is a novelty. We are a snow-loving family and so when we see even a 10% chance of the white stuff in the forecast, we get excited. We engage in all sorts of ridiculous shenanigans trying to magically get snow to materialize. Like many other families, we flush ice cubes down the toilet and wear our jammies inside out. My husband swears that not remembering to get the snow tires put on the car is a surefire way to ensure it snows (but of course, he does it anyway because he’s The Daddy and that’s now he rolls). My daughter insists that she can channel Queen Elsa and make snow and ice appear with just a stomp of her foot. My would-be Jedi Padawan believes he can use The Force to choke the snow right out of the clouds. Personally, I have learned that it’s more likely to snow if I’m not expecting it, so I try not to expect (which is a bit of an oxymoron, but whatever). In any case, we will try everything in our power to make the snow we so hope for materialize.
It’s tempting to take this same approach to Psalm 37, verse 4, which says, “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” At first glance, that scripture can make it seem as if taking delight in the Lord is the spiritual equivalent of flushing ice cubes down the toilet. If we delight ourselves in God, then we can get what we want, as if Godly delight-taking somehow magically moves the heart of God to see things our way.
Now, there is probably a kernel of truth in that approach. Scripture teaches us that prayer and praise can move the heart of God. For example, the Old Testament tells about several times when Moses changed God’s mind and kept Him from wiping out tribes upon tribes of Israelites in His Holy fury at their disobedience. God is, after all, a loving father and friend and as in any relationship, our conversations, interactions, and feelings matter to one another and can hold sway on the way things unfold.
However, if we stop there, believing the only thing at play here is the need to say a few flattering words to or about God in order to get on His Most High Holy Good Side, boy we are missing out. Not only we will end up staring out the window with our jammies on inside out wondering why it’s not snowing, but we will miss out on massive amounts of grace and blessings that are waiting for us.
In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says that where our treasure is, so will our hearts be also. If we store up our treasures in the world, the world is where our heart will be and the world is what we will value. The same is true of our delight. If we are taking delight and pleasure first and foremost in the things of this world, then our hearts and their desires will conform to the things of this world- which are not always good for us.
The world is fallen and full of sin and brokenness and baggage, both other people’s and our own. Heart’s desires that are born of that mess can easily be motivated by jealousy, lust, a need to prove ourselves, the desire to amass worldly treasures, or any number of attitudes of heart and mind that are not healthy for us. Asking our Heavenly Father for these desires can be a lot like my kids asking for a lollipop right before dinner: I can’t grant it, because it’s not good for them.
But if we start delighting in and treasuring the Lord, then our hearts will start to align with His and our desires will start to look a lot more like His heart. God is a good, good Father who made this world and everything in it, including us. His heart is not just about how things are, but about how they should be. His plans are for our good and for His glory, and if we start desiring things in alignment with that, they will be healthy and fortifying and good, good, good, good. It’s like my kids asking me for an apple or a carrot: heck yeah, I’m going to grant that! It’s healthy for them!
Aligning our hearts with God’s can sound a bit daunting, but this verse from the Psalms lays it out for us: if we work on fixing our eyes and placing our delight in the Lord, it will open the door for Him to do the heavy lifting in our hearts.
For some of us, the assignment to delight ourselves in the Lord may be fairly easy, just a reminder to dig deeper or return to something we’ve been doing for years. For others of us, however, we may feel like “delight thyself in the Lord” is easier said than done. Maybe we’ve tried before and failed, maybe we are new to the Kingdom and don’t know where to start, or perhaps we are feeling a bit disgruntled toward God for one reason or another and delighting in Him sounds about as appetizing as eating a mud pie or running an ultra marathon in heels.
I promise you that no matter where you are with this, God will meet you. Take a moment right now to breathe in and out, close your eyes (it’s ok to stop reading for a minute), and say, “Lord, teach me to delight in You. Lead me along the paths you’ve laid out just for me that lead to You.” If you’ve got fear, doubt, bitterness, straight up anger, or anything else hanging around, don’t even worry about it. Come as you are, bring it right along and offer it to God, He will listen intently to what you have to say and He can help you sort it out. He’s perfect like that, even and especially when we are far from it.
If you know where you want to start in your delight-taking, great. If not, here are some ideas:
- Blast some Lauren Daigle or Trip Lee whatever floats your boat and sing (or rap) along as loud as you can.
- Watch your kids play and marvel that God made them yours.
- Notice the beautiful sunrise, the rhythm of the rain, the wind through the trees, or the petals on a flower- all God’s handiwork.
- Make a list of blessings or start a gratitude journal.
- Go for a run. (I hear this works for some people, I am not one of them)
- Read your favorite passage of scripture and picture yourself there with God (my favorite for this is the 23rd Psalm, I will sit in a green pasture beside still water all day any day).
- Read some Psalms of praise (100, 139, 37, 27…there are tons, just google it)
Work on memorizing passages of scriptures that lift your heart
The delight will find you and you will find it because when we seek God, He will be found by us. It’s not on our own strength, it’s on His, we just have to show up. It will change us. Sometimes, the shift is slow and almost imperceptible as He works on our hearts. But His promises don’t fail, our delight will rest more and more in Him and our heart’s desires will line up more and more with His heart.
And then, we just let it snow. Inside out jammies optional.