“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4
That was a verse from my last blog entry and I wanted to talk about it today because there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the promise behind it.
The Heart Wants What it Wants
Each and every one of us has a deep, intense, heartfelt desire. Leave a comment and let me know what it is that burns within you because I’d like to join you in prayer. Perhaps you have a family member you hope will get saved? Perhaps it is an addiction you hope to overcome? A goal weight you’d like to reach? A health issue? A destination you’d like to travel? For me, it is the yearning for a family of my own, a loving husband and children.
Trust in the LORD and Do Good
The surrounding context of Psalm 37 tells us to wait, have patience, trust in God, commit our way to Him, don’t worry, and rest. It speaks about trusting God’s plan and waiting to see what He will do, aligning our will with His will. When our mind is united with His mind we are becoming more like Him. His desires become our desires. THIS is delighting ourself in Him.
Delight ~ Hebrew word עָנַג
de·light / dəˈlīt
- To please (someone) greatly
- To be exquistely happy about
- To make merry over
- To give pleasure to
To delight yourself in the Lord is to serve Him with enthusiasm (Ephesians 6:7, Colossians 3:23). To have exceeding joy in your salvation (Psalm 51:12, Psalm 13:5). Letting Him satisfy your every need (Psalm 23:1, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33). To live contented with what you already have (Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6, Philippians 4:12) rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) and be thankful (1 Chronicles 16:34, Philippians 4:6).
According to His Will
When we are delighting in God and submitting to His will, He blesses us with provisions, protection, deliverance, guidence, stability, and peace. But Psalm 37:4 is not a quid pro quo verse. Jesus said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). Notice He said IN MY NAME. He didn’t say, “Ask me anything and I will do it,” but only if it was according to His will.
There are many examples in scripture of unanswered prayer. For example, we read the story of Paul’s thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Paul asked God to remove it three times but for one reason or another, God chose not to say “yes.”
Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane with droplets of blood pouring out of his sweat glands in complete anguish. He prayed earnestly, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Obviously, if God had answered THAT prayer then all of us would be going to Hell!!!
Sometimes God chooses not to answer our prayers, even when we’re delighting ourselves in Him and trusting Him with our whole heart. But because we know and trust that He “works all things together for good” (Romans 8:28) we can praise Him and thank Him even when we are experiencing great pain.
Hillary Scott wrote this song right after she had a miscarriage which was the hardest trial she had ever gone through. She said in an interview, “Even when it hurts… God’s will is what’s best. Sometimes we don’t understand God’s promises until eternity. His ways are so much bigger than our ways. He sees the whole picture.”
When we are trying to pray but can’t find the words to say we can say these four words:
“Thy will be done.”
Be Still and Know
It’s hard to count it all joy when we’re distracted by the noise. That’s why Jesus intentionally rose early before anyone else to have his regularly scheduled time to be alone with God every morning. Jesus disciplined Himself to do this because quiet time with God was of utmost priority to Him. We can’t get lost in the business of life and put God on the back burner. We need to be open to hearing His “still small voice.” Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” If we aren’t listening, we’ll miss it.
Where is Your Delight?
It’s frustrating when we’re still single with verses like Psalm 37:4 laying around that seem to offer so much hope. Yet despite our unanswered prayers to the desires of our heart, God has a plan for “those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.” First I’d like to ask you: Where is your joy? Is it in a relationship with a human being or is it in a relationship with the Lord? There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship but our delight must be FIRST in the Lord. If time with God it is not a priority in your life then your joy is not in the Lord.
Second, are you “trusting God and doing good?” I read a statistic that only 5% of people are saving sex for marriage. I don’t know the statistic, but many believers choose to be unequally yoked with unbelievers and live impure lifestyles. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). God might choose not to bless you if you haven’t turned over all areas of your life to Him. When we repent of our sins and walk with the Lord, He removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Then he plants His desires for us in our heart. As the old, beloved hymn goes, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus!”
Third, continue to pray, “YOUR way, not my way, Yahweh! Thy will be done. Make Your desires for me the desires of my heart.” Then be still and wait on Him. Waiting SUCKS but God tells us to wait over and over in scripture. Don’t rush. Be patient. He has His perfect timing.
Finally, delight yourself in the Lord! The Psalmist sings in Psalm 73:25, “There is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” Is that true in your life?
There is a funny story I’d like to share with you. My roommate in college gave me a poem for Valentine’s Day. The last line of the poem reads thus:
Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine
I joked, “Can we just give God 999 hearts and save one for Mathew?” (At this time, my ex-husband was my boyfriend.) We both tilted our heads back with deep, belly laughter but then we both got quiet and serious. There is no room to give God 99% of our heart and keep 1% for ourselves. We have to give Him our WHOLE heart.
He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). He longs to bless us with good gifts (Matthew 7:11). But first He wants us to be completely satisfied in Him (John 6:35; John 7:37-39). When He is the object of our desire, we will have more of Him! Draw close to Him and He draws close to you (James 4:8).
After four dates over the course of a month with a gentleman I will refer only to as The Prince, we ended our relationship last night. As heartbreaking as it was, I kind of expected it. Not because there was anything wrong with him (he was the best guy I’ve dated thus far) and not because I didn’t think I deserved him (I know I am worthy of such a man.) It was because we weren’t compatible.
“If you and I got married, it would be a good marriage… but it wouldn’t be a GREAT marriage.” -The Prince
I asked him why not and he said because I was very “sensuous” and that there wasn’t anything wrong with that but that he simply wasn’t and he didn’t feel that we fit together because of it.
True. In fact, I was concerned before we even went on a single date that this would happen just by looking at the answers to his questions on his online dating profile. However, I decided to be open to the possibility of him despite his shortcomings because he was a drop in the ocean… a one-of-a-kind gentleman that is extremely hard to find, maybe even less than 1% of the population. Someone I was beginning to lose hope still existed in the world… a unicorn if you will.
Sometimes the heart needs more time to accept what the mind already knows.
He self-proclaimed through his answers on the dating site that he didn’t care for art, music, poetry, cologne, fashion, or physical touch… which is pretty much everything I live for, especially the latter. I was worried it was doomed from the start seeing as how I am the type of person who always has music playing throughout the day and I’m often found singing or dancing to it. I have a collection of over 300 fragrances and I’m always burning candles or scented oils to keep my home smelling comforting and inviting. My book shelf has a solid section dedicated to poetry and I have several books filled with my own poetry.
“You need to be more picky…” -The Prince
That’s the third time I’ve heard a man say that to me in just six months.
Why are men in my town so darn picky? They want so much… they want their “ideal.” I don’t even think it exists. I’m being reasonable and logical. I know that the man in my head is a figment of my imagination. I know he probably isn’t out there but I know I can get pretty darn close and The Prince was as close as you could possibly get, minus the fact that he’s not touchy-feely. I just don’t think I’d be competely happy in a marriage with someone who didn’t scoop me up all the time and tackle me with kisses. So he was probably right in letting me go, as sad as I am to say it outloud. I wish I weren’t so needy. I wish I didn’t have such high expectations. I wish the man for me wasn’t such a polar bear in a snow storm.
There were men in the past who were literally perfect but who struggled with porn addiction and that’s something on my non-negotiable checklist. The good news is that I’m getting warmer. The men in my life keep getting better and better, The Prince being the cream of the crop.
What I learned in this relationship is PATIENCE. He was definitely slow to warm up and it taught me complete reliance on God. Rest in Him and wait on Him while trusting in Him. I wanted things to move on my own timetable but I had to keep relaxing and being patient. I also learned the way I am supposed to be treated. I don’t think I’ve ever received such treatment from a man before. I was treated like a queen… never once did he make me feel uncomfortable. He intentionally pursued me, taking his time with me and was polite and kind and gentle and spoke God’s truth in love to me.
After this experience, I’m disappointed but not disenchanted. My heart is weary and wants to take a break but I know that I have to get myself back out there otherwise I’m never going to find my needle in a haystack.
What do you want to be true about your life a year from now, and what seeds do you need to be planting today in order to make that a reality?
I know that I want a man like The Prince… someone who is wise, hardworking, and intelligent. Someone who has hidden the Word of God in his heart, has a deep respect for His commandments and honors the Lord with his choices. I simply did not know there were still single men out there like this! The seeds I can be planting right now to harvest a better future are reading my Bible and praying for my future husband every day, and using the gifts and talents God gave me for His purpose. I need not squander my time but I still need to allow myself quiet rest with the Lord so He can reveal to me His calling.
Also, I need to stop being so hard on myself. I didn’t do anything wrong in my relationship with The Prince… he just wasn’t the one God has for me.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…
but that which is embryonic and mercurial and yet undefined is intangible. Still sweet, but abstruse and therefore unnerving.
We need labels. They give us a sense of security. We cannot live comfortably in the realm of unknowing.
A name imbues meaning and significance. With words God breathed life and filled the emptiness of space with light, land, and sky. Ann Voskamp reminds us that the first man’s first task was to identify the animals, “releasing the land from chaos, from the teeming, indefinable mass. Naming offers the gift of recognition. “
A definition imparts substance to that which has no essence. A name would manifest purpose, coalescing a real relationship into existance. Until then, it’s still a relationship, though I’m not sure what to call it.
Three gentlemen asked me just this week, “I’d like to take you out on a date. Are you seeing anyone?” My response: “Not really, kind of, sort of-ish, it’s hard to explain you see.”
‘Tis better to err on the side of caution and be patient. Just respond and let him lead. This is what I must keep telling myself. I long to feel something real but just as the nature of what we are is impalpable because it’s “too early to tell,” anything conceived predevelopment would be counterfeit.
Time will tell. Until then, I will enjoy that which is undefined.
I love this scene in the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” when Andie discovers the wilting plant in Ben’s apartment. “Oh, no… our love fern; it’s dead! You let it die. Are you going to let us die?” It’s a funny scene and makes a great point that relationships are like plants: if you don’t water them with care, they wilt and eventually die. Even old married couples must go on frequent dates to keep a relationship healthy. So too we ought to make dates with God. It’s important to always be aware of His presence at all times but especially when we need Him to soothe our aches. It’s so easy to worry when we aren’t focused on the fact that God is with us and in control. We need learn about who He is so that our heart can be sensitive to what He might be trying to tell us throughout the day.
I realize that, even though I’m praying daily, I’m not intimately conversing with God. I’m talking to Him, but I’m not really hearing His response nor trusting Him in the silence that follows my prayers. I cry out to Him daily but it seems I’ve found myself in a purgatory of sorts where God just wants me to make a decision instead of sitting in limbo and it doesn’t really matter which way I choose, just that I take a step forward on the path. I constantly wonder what it is He wants me to do. Does He want me to continue waiting for my husband to have a change of heart? Clearly, my husband has made up his mind and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it. As my pastor and many close confidants have suggested, “Would you really want to be reconciled with someone who you’d be unequally yoked with? Maybe you should see this as a blessing in disguise.” My husband has actually called me a few times to chat because he misses my companionship, but he doesn’t want to be reunited as husband and wife. Three times he has asked me if he could borrow the money he needs for the divorce because he doesn’t have the funds for it. I refused each and every time because I still have a little sliver of hope that “until death do us part” will still happen. Some people are telling me I should just divorce him myself so that I can put it behind me, wipe the slate clean, and start over fresh. Well-meaning people have told me, “Why shouldn’t you be happy and have the family you always dreamed of? You can’t move on if you keep pining away after a man who has already divorced you in his heart.”
I would wait for years and years if I knew for sure he’d return to God and to me. But how long, Oh Lord? How long must I wait? At the mall where I work I see children giggling and swinging from the hands of their parents. There is a deep yearning within my soul for that connection between mother and child and to share my life with a partner in whom I would be his helpmeet. I hate to say “time is running out,” but it really is if you think about it. At my age, there are not many eligible bachelors left and even fewer are God-fearing men. I recently gave my cousin the book “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy and now I’m thinking it may be time for me to re-read it. At the moment I am reading “Where is God When it Hurts? A Comforting, Healing Guide for Coping With Hard Times” by Philip Yancey. So far it has been encouraging but I haven’t yet gotten to the part that tells me why God allowed this to happen. I keep wanting answers! All I can rest in is the fact that Job was a righteous man who found favor in the sight of God and even he had to endure great suffering which was appointed to him for a purpose though Job, in his entire lifetime, never found out what that purpose was.
It bothers me that I still don’t know the specific plan God has for my life. (I know that everyone has the same purpose: to serve and obey Christ with sincerity of heart and serve others, especially “the least of these” (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 25:34-45) and to share the gospel (1 Peter 2:9, 3:15-16, Mark 16:15). Maybe it doesn’t matter exactly what I do as long as I “work at it with all my heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 6:7). When I was in college I believed I was called to be a teacher and minister to troubled youth. I wanted to help young people and give them hope so that they didn’t have to experience the same torment that I did at their age. Many young people are searching for answers: Who am I? Why am I here? If I can be there for them during those difficult questions and maybe lead them to discover for themselves the answers, I will feel as though I have made a difference in the world. Five years ago I took failing the Praxis exam as a sign that the Lord didn’t want me to be a teacher but to be a stay-at-home wife and serve my husband faithfully by his side in whatever he needed me to do. I regret that decision today. (Not getting married, no, I shall never regret that. I regret not furthering my education.)
Do you ever feel like you’re just waiting waiting waiting for your life to actually start? I have always felt that the Lord set me apart for a special work though I know not what. I have known this since the age of 16. 12 years ago I was going through an immense inward struggle as I fought an intense spiritual battle. I will not get into the specifics with what I was wrestling with, but one night it all came to a head and I didn’t want to live anymore. I was seriously contemplating suicide because I was ready to be in Heaven with the Lord where there would be no more tears or pain. As I sat selfishly on my bedroom floor with my head in my hands, trying to think of the least painful way to kill myself I could have sworn I heard God speaking clearly to me in my mind. He wasn’t yelling at me or telling me I was foolish for pondering such a thing. His voice was tender and gentle. He whispered, “I LOVE you! Your life is precious to Me. Don’t end it. I am the One who decides when you die. I will take care you. You can get through this; you can do it. I want you to do great things for Me. Just wait and see what I have in store for you… just wait! I have BIG PLANS for you!” Those two words “big plans” have never left my mind and I’ve always wondered when they would come to fruit or if they are already taking place as I type this. As God set apart prophets and leaders like Jeremiah and Moses for “special work,” I wonder if I, too, was called for a special work or if my special work is just living out a simple life without complaining, but being thankful and praising God in all things.
Sometimes I think, “What am I still doin in Tucson making a lousy $10 an hour? I should be in Connecticut living near my family and friends I grew up with working at a great job making a decent living.” (But many people tell me $10 is a lot more than most people make and I should be thankful that I make that much.) However, it never seems like it’s enough to live on. There’s so much I want to do! First of all, I want to be debt free and second I’d like to have my own mode of transportation. Last but not least, it is my dream to just save up a bunch of money and buy a big, beautiful house and open it and my heart up to a bus-load of orphans. The Bible commands us to help the orphans (James 1:27). It’s what everyone is supposed to do, not just certain people who are called. Someday I’m definitely going to adopt but until that time has come, I help provide financial grants to loving, Christian families who want to make a difference in the life of orphans with a percentage of the profits from my business Eskimo Kissesz. Of course I want to have my own biological children as well and be the kind of wife who rubs my husband’s feet when he comes home from a long day of work, take a hot bath with him, and then cuddle all night long after a wonderful home cooked meal. But I digress.
Newsflash to self: life is NOW. We are to be making the most of what we have in the moment. We cannot wait ‘til tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. Do the best with what you have and the rest will come later in God’s timing. If you keep waiting for some big “AH HAH moment,” it will probably never come. Sometimes you just have to choose to walk toward the door and open it yourself. Find your identity in Christ and you will never again wonder who you are. If you aren’t content with where He has placed you right now you will continually try to find fulfillment and satisfaction elsewhere- in things or in other people. For some reason the saying, “bloom where you are planted” just came into my mind.
Everyone says they’re proud of how strong I am for going through this without tearing down my husband or speaking ill against him. I confess I don’t feel very strong. I feel the pain is too much to bear sometimes, but I know I must stand firm and always remember that God will never give me more than I can handle (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). I also need to bear in mind that the Lord is taking care of me, and wants me to lean on Him. Whenever I start feeling totally hopeless it is good to remember that Christians all over the world have suffering even worse than I do… some are in prison and some are being tortured for their faith. My heart breaks for them. I pray that they will have some reprieve soon.
God has called me to eternal glory in Christ, and while He allows me to suffer on this earth, it is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to me on that WONDERFUL SOMEDAY! Oh, I simply cannot wait for the return of my KING!!! Eventually He will restore me and make me strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10). It is so encouraging to know that one day my suffering will finally end. In the meantime, I need to watch my attitude and conduct, always being prepared in season and out of season to witness both with my lips and with my life. I’m so thankful for the many opportunities lately that I’ve been given to share my faith and encourage other believers going through hard times. The Devil is poised to pounce, and he would like nothing better than to catch me with my guard down so I have to be extra sober and vigilant now than ever before. I have fallen into darkness one too many times, but I am trying to remain on the illumined path and not stray into the thorny weeds that grow alongside. When I doubted the Bible was the absolute infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God, it was the most depressing time in my entire life. I didn’t want to get out of bed or do anything. But praise the Lord! In Jesus Christ I have found eternal peace of mind, true, unconditional, everlasting love and joy. I have no limits in Christ and I have unlimited freedom in Christ. I have broken free from the chains of bondage and I have found security in the knowledge of His grace. Amen!