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Enjoying the Almighty
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" - Psalm 37:4
Did you ever look at Psalm 37:4 and say in your heart, "I agree"? Then you walk away and ask the question, "How?" I understand the dilemma. How do you enjoy God? How do you delight in the Almighty? How do you rejoice in an invisible, omnipotent being?
I can't say I'm an expert or that I have arrived, but I am enjoying God in a deeper way this season more than ever before. I am really delighting in the Lord. The cool thing in this whole business of delighting is the blessing of simply enjoying God and His presence without any admixture. It's like getting a Jamba Juice without any boosts. Well, maybe not quite like this, but you know what I mean.
My whole Christian life up to about a year ago was filled with trying to achieve things. I was a great 'striver'. Pastors are notorious when it comes to living in the jittery realm of adrenaline rushes and building monuments to God, hidden under the guise of unselfishness, washed over with holy sound bites from the pulpit. Honestly, I'm sick of the hypocrisy. Maybe you are, too. I strove to study the Bible, disciple young believers, lead people to Jesus, graduate cum laud at seminary, win awards, build a church, teach theology, attend conferences, teach apologetics, write articles, lead worship, preach messages, be a senior pastor, and anything and everything that would further the Kingdom of God as I understood the Great Commission to be (Mattthew 28:18-20). Maybe you have done the same.
Little did I know that I was delighting in achievement rather than God. Yes, there were times I delighted in God, but more often than not I enjoyed checking off my to-do-list. At times, I also enjoyed the applause of men rather than the applause of heaven. Let's be honest, we all like it when people like us. The sounds of heaven get drowned out by the laughter and clapping of friends and strangers. The only way we can readjust is to spend face time with God and make him a priority by giving him the first fruits of our day, preferably the first few hours. Time with God equals the right perspective on life, the right perspective with people, the right perspective on who we are. Many pastors (not all) lack perspective because they are caught up with people, programs, and principles.
In my past religious life, I rejoiced in appearing spiritual and productive over really experiencing the blessing of an in-depth walk with Jehovah. Busyness and wrong priorities can do this. The outward took precedence over the inward. Things get blurred. In this season, God stripped away my titles, my awards, my responsibilities, my false personages, my former job, and every type of hollow security in order for me to gain more of Jesus and become authentic again. Actually, he gently asked me to give up my false securities. I listened and obeyed. I thank God for hearing at the right time. He's not so subtle when he really wants to get your attention a second time ~ if you know what I mean. First time obedience is a good thing if you value your life.
Paul states in Philippians 3:8, "More than that I count all things as loss in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus My Lord. For whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ." I finally understood what it meant to count all hings as dung in comparison to knowing Jesus. How did I come to this place? How did I start to really delight in God?
The pain of dying to false securities can either make you bitter or better. I chose the latter by turning to Jesus with my anger, frustration, and praises. In the simplicity of praying out all my concerns during breezy, night time walks in my neighborhood, the Lord started to direct me to my relationship with Him. He reminded me that being right and accepted by him were the basis of joy and delight. I reveled in God's forgiveness of my sins. I confessed and repented; I felt clean again. I exulted in God's unchanging love for me (Romans 8:38-39). I bubbled over with joy as I understood that I had eternal life (John 5:24). I rested in my sonship (Ephesians 1:5). I delighted in the important things again.
He even revealed his meticulous care over creation and his wisdom in how he put it all together. I started to praise him from deep within. As I looked at the trees, mountains, sun, moon, and stars, I could understand David's heart in Psalm 8. I even wrote a few songs during my times in His presence. It was a humbling and joyful experience.
Anger cropped up its ugly head at times (it still does), but I laid them aside and turned to God over and over again. The enemy and our flesh are relentless when it comes to pulling us back into pride and rage. There were times when my prayer walks lasted into the wee hours of the morning. I found by coming back to the simple joy of understanding my salvation and God's love for me, it completely extinguished any negative emotions. Peace then returned. Perspective regained.
God's love, forgiveness, and all other spiritual benefits can never be taken away (Ephesians 1-3). If we build our securities on them, we erect our lives on a strong foundation. Other things can be stolen, destroyed, and seized from our lives. The loss of the temporal has the potential to cause pain in this life. That is why Paul and we suffer the loss of all things. It's only natural to suffer, but it's the path toward real joy. Affliction turns us to God. Once we delight in our eternal God and in his eternal love, we become like a strong, immovable mountain (Psalm 125:1). Ministry or life built on this foundation will endure any type of trial, liberate from pleasing people, and infuse a spirit of thankfulness and joy, not obligation. The Bible states, "The joy of the Lord is our strength." It truly is.
The second part of Psalm 37:4 is that He will fulfill the desires of your heart. Honestly, it becomes a non-entity when you start to enjoy God. It truly is the chief end of man (Westminster confession). The Spirit of God and his Word start to dance a wonderful waltz in your heart. Joy grows. Peace envelops. Love overwhelms. Depth happens. God's favor overtakes your life.
It's time to let go and delight.